Mercedes GLS 400d, 580, 600 Maybach & 63 AMG
Elevated S classes
The flagship of Mercedes SUVs (no, the G is not an SUV) is the GLS. And Dieter drove all three, pardon four of them.
What do Carl, Rudolf and Wilhelm have in common? Yes, all three of them are German engineers, who were born in the 19th century, near Stuttgart. And without Carl Benz, Rudolf Diesel and Wilhelm Maybach I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of experiencing all the available Mercedes-Benz GLSes.
Let’s start with the oil burner bearing Rudolf’s last name. And no, my dear influencers, Vin Diesel had nothing to do with this. I have recently enjoyed the 3.0-l. straight six in the magnificent G 400d and it works flawlessly in the GLS 400d as well. One of the best of its kind in the current automobile world, with agile and smooth performance.
Add an additional R170 000 and you can have the trusted 4.0-l. V8 motor in the GLS 580 petrol version. This car is a bit of a sleeper, as the 63 AMG will in fact give you 90kW more out of basically the same 4.0-l. V8, which results in merely half a second from 0 to 100km/h, compared to the 580. On a windy road like my favourite Clarence Drive those two are very close to each other in performance. So does the AMG badge, including the signature of the engine builder on top of the powerplant, justify a mark-up of R1.2 million? You decide.
And just when you think, that you can’t top the AMG 63 GLS, you realize you can. Not performance-wise though, but in massively increased comfort. This is made possible by the 155 kg heavier and much more luxurious Maybach 600 GLS. The most opulent German badged luxury SUV in the market. There are two other Germans in the segment, albeit disguised by traditional British badges: Rolls Royce Cullinan, the classiest BMW, and the poshest Volkswagen, the Bentley Bentayga. Both significantly more expensive than Wilhelm’s namesake.
Apparently most of the weight gain comes from increasing the soundproofing of the cabin. And soundproof it is. As the Maybach is more of a chauffeur driven and less of a driver’s car, there is a Maybach driving mode for utmost comfort. Then the behemoth starts in second gear and doesn’t do the annoying start-stop. As much peace and quiet as possible for the (mostly) VIP passengers.
Under the hood beats the same 4.0-l. V8 as in 580 and 63 AMG, so unfortunately no V12 as in the Maybach S class, the only one in the Mercedes-Benz line-up, which is still featuring this powerplant. And contrary to what some of my esteemed colleagues may say in their GLS 600 reviews, this is not Maybach’s first off roader. The honour goes to the 2017 G 650 Maybach Landaulet, which featured above mentioned V12 and a couple of other specialities. The most superior game tracking vehicle ever was limited to 99 units worldwide. The 463kW/1000Nm sub-brand G is now rarer than a Bugatti Veyron. And if used ones should ever come up for sale, expect to pay significantly more than double of what the not so humble new price was five years ago, around 1.3 million. Euros mind you.
That almost makes the Maybach GLS600 a luxury bargain buy. I know it’s a chauffeur’s car, but I have to drive it. I am stepping onto the retractable running board for easy access. Inside I feel far removed from reality. A rolling wellness oasis. With champagne cooler and stainless steel flutes in the rear middle console fridge. The rear seats are 12cm further back compared to the regular GLS.
My second-favourite part of the Maybach is the grille, my favourite the Mercedes star on the hood. The first ever Mercedes SUV to proudly display the brand in this matter.
So which one of them would I choose, if I had to keep only one? If it has to be the V8, I would opt for the sensible choice, the least conspicuous 580. From all four, I would have to go with Rudolf. The GLS 400d is the perfect combination of luxury, performance, street cred and everyday usability.
Mercedes-Benz GLS 400d/580/600 Maybach/63 AMG
3.0-l. straight 6 turbo diesel/the other three: 4.0-l. twin-turbo V8, all four paired with a 9-speed auto
243/360/410/450kW(all V8s + 16kW from the EQ system) & 700/700/730/850Nm
238/250/250/250km/h (optional AMG package in the 63: 280km/h)
in 6.3/4.7/4.9/4.2 seconds
from R1 854 840/R2 025 000/R3 033 220/R3 178 120
Driven by Dieter Losskarn
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