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New York show: Mercedes-Maybach SUV a chance

Coming bach: Mercedes' next-generation GLS upper-large SUV could get the Maybach treatment, following the S600 sedan.

Benz sales chief says GLS-based SUV flagship is likely but not a Maybach E-Class

30 Mar 2016


MERCEDES-BENZ’S resurrected Maybach flagship sub-brand may spread to the top of the ever-growing SUV arena to take on the proliferation of super-luxury crossovers such as the Bentley Bentayga and Maserati Levante.

According to Mercedes-Benz Cars board member in charge of marketing and sales Ola Kaellenius, the Maybach badge will be reserved for the top echelon of Benz models, including SUVs.

However, while this puts the successor to today’s GLS – formerly known as the GL-Class – front and centre of the company’s plans to create a Mercedes-Benz Maybach SUV, it also flies against the expected E-Class offshoot.

This is despite a number of spy shots showing an extended version of the recently unveiled W213-series mid-sizer prototype parading around the winter testing routes wearing Maybach-style ‘formal’ roof cladding.

“I think there is scope for growth for the Maybach,” Mr Kaellenius told Australian journalists at last week's New York motor show.

“But Maybach needs to be in the highest exclusivity corner of the Mercedes-Benz family, so only on the very top end would I see potential other derivatives for Maybach, and not going downwards.

“So an E-Class Maybach, for instance, is not something we have on the cards. If or when we do more, we will stay right at the very top end.” Mr Kaellenius – who will take over as the new head of Mercedes-Benz Cars research and development following Thomas Weber's retirement at the end of the year – was surprisingly forthcoming about whether it would apply to Mercedes’ GLS.

“It is possible,” he said. “The top-end SUV is the GLS, so I wouldn’t rule that out… being based on the GLS – this is a candidate, but not a decision that we have made at this time.” The initial success of the Mercedes-Maybach S600 sedan has even surprised Daimler, Mr Kallenius claims.

“What’s interesting is that the restart of the Maybach story, with a slightly different strategy, has had a phenomenal start,” he said. “We sell more Mercedes-Maybach per month in China than we sold in our best year with the old Maybach (57 and 62).

“Of course it is a different strategy, and a different price point, but still at the very top of the portfolio. It isn’t like it is inexpensive.” The relaunch of the Maybach brand in Australia in the early 2000s saw only 13 examples of the 57 and its longer-wheelbase 62 limousines sold, which kicked off from $945,000 and $1,150,000 respectively.

In contrast, today’s W222-series S-Class-based Mercedes-Maybach S600 starts from just $448,610 (plus on-road costs), sitting in similar territory to key competitors such as the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II (at $595,000 driveaway), and the Bentley Flying Spur W12 (from $423,160 plus on-road costs).

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