Despite retaining the same aluminium, high-strength steel and composite body panels as future standard GLS models, the new upmarket SUV is expected to sport a different grille and unique headlight and tail-light graphics, as well as added chrome and individual wheel designs in a move aimed at providing it with a more premium appearance in line with the current Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.
Secrecy surrounds the layout of the new GLS, although there are suggestions it could also have an extended wheelbase in an attempt to provide it with the sort of rear leg room offered by the luxury SUV competition. The current 5130mm-long GLS has a 3080mm wheelbase – some 40mm shorter than that used by the 5199mm-long Range Rover SVAutobiography LWB but 80mm longer than that of the 5140mm-long Bentayga.
Inside, the second of the new generation of Maybach models is planned to gain a luxuriously equipped interior with appointments and materials beyond those of Mercedes' existing Designo line. Among the more unique touches will be Maybach-themed digital instrument infotainment system graphics, says an insider closely involved in the new model’s development.
Although the standard GLS is planned to offer seating for up to seven on three rows of seats, the new Maybach model is set to offer two rows of seats with dedicated seating for four, or, as an option, five.
Among the engines likely to be offered by the future range-topping GLS model is Mercedes' twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol mated to a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox, with both 4Matic four-wheel drive and Air Body Control air suspension due to be standard. Insiders also hint at plans for a twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 flagship, although this has yet to be officially acknowledged. Also under development for the new GLS are petrol-electric and diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains.
Mercedes' plan to extend the Maybach line-up to include a GLS-based model comes after strong sales of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, which relaunched Maybach as a premium sub-brand in 2014.