First Class Transport

In 2002, Mercedes-Benz launched Maybach as an ultra-luxury competitor to face off against BMW owned Rolls-Royce and VW Group’s Bentley. Unfortunately, unlike its rivals that possessed legendary recognition, just a few German historians and serious classic car enthusiasts knew the Maybach name. So after just a decade and 3,000 worldwide sales, Mercedes ended the standalone brand.

While Stuttgart’s renowned luxury automaker didn’t win that first battle with its rivals in sales volume, it did establish a luxury stature for the Maybach name. Now it has capitalized on that investment by creating an exclusive model offering within the Mercedes-Benz franchise. Since its launch as an S-Class option in 2015 more than 60,000 Maybach models have been sold. Sometimes determination pays off.

2002 Maybach 57

2021 Mercedes Maybach S-Class

Lap of Luxury

Mercedes’ big GLS is an SUV that can hold its own in a competitive field that has rivals from every luxury brand, including Cadillac’s Escalade and Lincoln’s Navigator who popularized the segment. The Maybach edition takes this luxury further to face off against Bentley, Range Rover Autobiography and Rolls Royce. My first test of their accomplishment was a 60-mile journey on our scenic coast. I set the ride menu to Maybach, the Burmester 3D surround audio to play Bach and inhaled the Air Balance cabin fragrance system. Did I mention the occasional light massage from the Energizing Comfort seats?

The substantial GLS600 SUV, like most of its competitors, weighs in at a bit over 6,000-pounds and with its sophisticated air suspension system, delivers a velvet smooth ride. I wondered how all this kinetic energy might cope with a few twisting turns that were on our route. In short order, Mercedes’ E-Active Body Control, an advanced dynamic suspension control system, answered my question. The system measures curve inclination and counters the uncomfortable body leaning caused by the turn’s lateral forces. In other words, the pampered passenger(s) and chauffer are not the least bit unsettled.

THE FINE PRINT

2021 Mercedes Maybach GLS600

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  4.0-liter Bi-Turbo V8

HORSEPOWER:  550 @ 6,000-6,500 RPM

TORQUE:  538 lb.ft. @ 2,500-4,500 RPM

BASE PRICE: $160,500

AS TESTED:  $190,100

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  15-city, 19-highway, 16-combined

Arriving in Style

The GLS600 Mercedes Maybach is quite lavishly equipped for its base price of $160,500. But of course there are opportunities to elevate its luxury to “ultra” status and our test vehicle accommodated, adding Maybach two-tone paint and multi-spoke forged wheels that with the distinctive grille, announced that this vehicle was quite special. And that drama was punctuated inside with reclining rear seats separated with artisan silver champagne flutes in their own compartment along with a Champagne refrigerator and folding tray tables. Pretty much like your Gulfstream experience.

To properly test how well the Mercedes Maybach acquitted itself with an ultra-luxury prospect, we ventured up to Yountville in Napa Valley to visit Jean-Charles Boisset, a wonderfully vivacious and charming friend who knows a lot about combining Champagne and luxury. JCB’s collection includes a number of wineries in California and France producing award-winning still and sparkling wines, luxury apparel, jewelry, fragrance, spirits and gourmet nourishment from the iconic Oakville Grocery.

Jean-Charles was properly smitten with the prodigious Maybach edition dominating his downtown Yountville parking lot, especially when he was seated inside for a proper Champagne toast. And that’s exactly the experience you want when you celebrate success.