Mercedes-Benz is planning a 'super-luxury' version of its GL-Class seven-seat SUV (pictured) as part of the launch of the Maybach sub-brand. That's the clear message behind comments from senior Mercedes-Benz insiders speaking at last week's Italian launch of the new S-Class coupe.
The move sees Maybach set to become to luxury, what AMG is for performance for the Daimler brand. And SUVs appear key to the Maybach 'comeback'.
Although not a return to models badged Maybach in their own right, the plan will see a number of models offered at super-luxury specification levels and/or standalone chassis configurations.
The first new Maybach-badged model will be a stretched long-wheelbase S-Class. One of six configurations built on the new W222 series S-Class architecture
, the 'S-Class by Maybach' will remain a two-row car, unlike the three-row Pullman ultra-long-wheelbase that will top-off the big Benz sedan line-up.
A GL-based SUV/offroader is also on the cards.
Two other potential 'by Maybach' models have also been floated: a development of the just-released S-Class Coupe and from left-field, a version of the MLC-Class SUV coupe.
If the 'GL-Class by Maybach' makes it to market, it will retain existing GL architecture but receive styling tweaks and a luxury makeover. It will not, however, be S-Class based as has been reported elsewhere. That said, it could utilise S-Class technology such as Magic Body Control semi-active suspension and Curve Tilting.
Speaking at the S-Class coupe launch, Mercedes-Benz board member in charge of research and development, Dr Thomas Weber, would not comment in detail on the expansion of the Maybach brand but was happy to talk in general terms.
"First of all it's clear that we stop the old Maybach. [But] There is still a good brand image linked to Maybach – so stay tuned to what we plan to do with this brand," Weber told motoring.com.au.
"Mercedes is the mother brand and we have Mercedes-AMG [for performance]. Could it be an idea to go in a similar direction [with Maybach]?
"What does Mercedes [in its own right] stand for? Do we need the most luxurious vehicles in our line-up [to be] an addition compared to AMG... [It] could be a good idea...
"[But] It is not for official confirmation [today]," Weber teased.
The 'GL-Class by Maybach' in particular would allow Mercedes-Benz to quickly respond to super-luxury SUVs in development from Bentley, Lamborghini and even Mercedes-Benz tuners such as Brabus.
Mercedes-Benz insiders commented that uber-SUVs were one of the most common products of AMG's Performance Studio customisation division.
Key markets for the 'GL-Class by Maybach' would include the Middle East, Russia and the USA.
"Why not [apply Maybach to GL]," Weber responded to motoring.com.au's questioning.
"Of course we see the luxurious [SUV] segment has huge growing potential, and the answer then is why not? The question is how fast and how parallel we can go with production for something like this.
"You will see more in the months to come and maybe next year will be the year of our SUV offensive," Weber stated.