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Driven: The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic Wants You to Live the Good Life

Cutting-edge features, immaculate design, and a taste of the VIP experience.

LOS ANGELES—The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic embodies the sophistication of a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class in an SUV body. Poised to join the ultra-luxurious SUV club spearheaded by Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Range Rover, Maserati, and others, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is an indulgence of comfort, quality, and style. We were among the West Coast auto journos to test drive the all-new Maybach SUV through the scenic backroads of Santa Barbara and Ventura.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: Fancy and Capable Backroad Boss

Driving an oversized luxury vehicle on the tight roads of Montecito at night was as gripping as driving our long-term 2017 BMW M2 on Ortega Highway in broad daylight. Though it was challenging within some sections due to the dimly lit roads, the big-boss Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 carved its way out unscathed. The active suspension does a spectacular job of offsetting body lean, and in return, the GLS turns-in to corners leveled to the road.

We can positively say Curve mode lent a hand for the tricky maneuvering, and for nerve-wracking pockets of total darkness, the active LED headlamps work their magic by increasing their brightness to illuminate the inky path.

Our map of backroads took us on California State Routes 192, 150, and 33, and then redirected us to Highway 101 with a final detour to Beverly Hills. With an official zero-to-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds, the luxurious cruiser can hustle from a standstill to the next traffic light quickly, making the newly crowned S-Class of SUVs feel nimbler than its outward appearance suggests.

Shifting is quick and smooth, and power delivery is seamless. On par with what you'd expect from the newest addition to the limited Maybach product portfolio, the steering feedback and braking are impeccable. In a nutshell, the Maybach GLS' performance and handling are comparable to the skills of a professional chef who prepares a perfectly grilled steak with a side of sauteed mushrooms and brussel sprouts.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: Powertrain and Suspension

As fast as a falcon that protects her babies from an approaching predator, the Maybach GLS 600 can be as quiet as a mouse and so pleasant to drive. Our test vehicle rolled on 23-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber; paired with the outstanding active suspension, the Maybach GLS 600 gobbles road defects like clockwork.

Power for the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS comes by way of a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 producing 550 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque, sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The standard EQ Boost 48-volt electrical system can supply up to an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and at slower speeds, the Maybach GLS 600 behaves like a mild hybrid by solely running on electric power for a brief period.

The latest drive program, "Maybach" mode, configures the drivetrain and suspension to provide outstanding comfort for VIPs riding in back while enjoying a glass of Dom Pérignon or reading their favorite novel. Maybach mode settings include transmission tuning with fewer gear shifts, a flat accelerator curve, and shutting off the stop/start engine system. Like us, most passengers will probably not be able to note much of a difference between the Comfort and Maybach driving programs; regardless, they will be too busy being pampered in the plush rear seats to care.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: The Rear Cocoon Radiates Opulence

A ride in the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS is not another routine journey. Enveloped in the finest materials, including soft Nappa leather upholstery, natural wood surfaces, quilted Maybach pillows, and thick carpeting, the rear compartment is undoubtedly the place you want to be.

We didn't just inspect the executive rear seats; we fiddle around, and used our imagination to evaluate the Maybach experience. We buckled up into one of the rear seats for a taste of what's in store for rear passengers, and it is nothing short of the sweet life. So, reclining our private jet-style seat, we hit the calf massage button, rolled up the sun blinds, and basked in a peaceful ride from our offices in El Segundo to Malibu.

Within the seat adjustment controls, there is a button that automatically raises the extendable calf support and reclines your seat almost flat to the floorboard. Relieve some stress with a lower back massage, choose a soothing color from the 64-color ambient-lighting system, put a meditation playlist on the Burmester 3D surround-sound system, and you're good to go.

Privacy from gawkers is available via the power sun blinds, and if you desire the sun's warmth, the large panoramic sunroof acts as a natural skylight and creates a serene atmosphere. Furthermore, the air-balance system releases a signature fragrance featuring a blend of white osmanthus blossom, leather notes, and spicy tea.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: Standard Furnishings and Optional Upgrades

According to Mercedes, American consumers favor using their own tablets and smartphones, so a set of 12.0-inch screens mounted on the front-seat backs will not be available in the U.S. However, a 7.0-inch tablet from which rear passengers can control the MBUX infotainment system comes standard. Among other comforting goods are multi-contour seats with massage function, four-zone climate control, wireless charging, power sunblinds, and heated and cooled cup holders.

Additional standard equipment includes the E-Active Body Control system, augmented video for navigation, 22-inch Maybach-exclusive wheels, an extended leather package, and an on-demand all-wheel-drive system. Also included are active parking assist with surround view, and the Mercedes-Benz driver-assistance package that bundles a suite of active driver aids.

The folding tables, refrigerator compartment, champagne flutes, two-tone Nappa leather upholstery, 23-inch wheels, designo interior trim, and two-tone exterior paint (available in eight color combinations) are optional.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: Maybach Exterior Design Features

Design details that highlight the exterior are the solid chrome B-pillars, elegant Maybach badges, chrome ornamentation, and of course, the three-pointed star. A couple of our favorite exterior features in addition to soft-closing doors are the automatically extending running boards, Maybach-logo projection lights, Maybach-specific grille, and 23-inch wheels.

The power-deployable running boards extend by opening any of the car's doors, and in doing so, the Maybach GLS 600 lowers its height for ease of access. Three cool things about the running boards are that they illuminate, emerge and retract quietly, and go incognito when all the doors are closed.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Test: Pricing 

Arriving in dealership showrooms by the end of 2020, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 promises to transform an ordinary ride to the airport or a long-distance road trip into an experience fit for VIPs. Besides transporting passengers in style, this luxury SUV acts as a mobile office, lounge, and spa. Astonishingly, though, for all of the Maybach grandeur and class-above amenities, the Maybach GLS 600 starts at $161,550. That figure is far below the $210,000 entry price we estimated approximately one year ago, and it puts this luxury SUV in an appealing position against competitors.

Final note: The four-seat configuration is standard and a definite must-have; however, there is a five-passenger seating option as an alternative, but we expect most people to stick to the quad setup to maximize their pampered experience.

 

2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Highlights

  • Maybach logo-projection lights
  • Twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, 550 hp and 538 lb-ft
  • Automatic running boards
  • Classy upholstery and interior-trim options
  • Two-tone exterior paint finish
  • Maybach-exclusive 23-inch wheels

 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic Specifications

ON SALE Now 2020
PRICE $161,550/$171,600 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/550 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 538 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 4- or 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE N/A
L x W x H 204.9 x 79.9 x 72.4 in
WHEELBASE 123.5 in
WEIGHT 6,085 lb
0-60 MPH 4.8 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph