What does the sweet smell of success actually smell like? When it permeates the interior of Mercedes’ stunning new $160,000 flagship SUV—the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic—it’s the flowery, light aroma of white osmanthus blossom, rounded off by a gentle leather note, with a hint of spicy tea.
The olfactory-minded team at Mercedes-Benz created this unique fragrance to spritz the cabin of the hedonistic GLS 600. Here is a super-luxe business jet on wheels to challenge the likes of Bentley’s Bentayga, Range Rover’s SV Autobiography, and BMW’s Alpina XB7. And while it was developed from the Alabama-built, full-size Mercedes GLS 4×4 (prices from $76,000) it’s a different animal altogether.
Just look at the thing: It has more bling than Liberace at his most flamboyant, Vegas best. It oozes opulence, from its flashy chrome grille to its shimmery-mesh air intake, from those towering polished rims to that gorgeous two-tone paint.
While the exterior will rotate heads from Worth Avenue to Rodeo Drive, the interior is the exclamation point. Climb into the back—helped by self-lowering suspension—and settle into rear thrones that recline aircraft-style, with elevating footrests, built-in calf and back massagers, heaters, coolers, and pillows as headrests. A compartment between the seats can chill a bottle of Champagne and there are even a couple of flutes—for drinking, not playing—at your disposal. To serenade you while you imbibe, the state-of-the-art Burmester 3D surround-sound system boasts 27 speakers and 1,590 watts of auditory bliss.
Arguably the biggest thrill of this mighty Maybach is the way it drives. Its power comes courtesy of a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that packs a robust 550 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque. Add to this Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which can rustle up 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of additional thrust. Pedal to the metal, you’ll hit 60 mph from standstill in a mere 4.8 seconds.
Perhaps even more impressive is the way this 6,000-pound beauty seemingly defies physics and behaves like a sports sedan through the curves. The key here is the Maybach’s E-Active Body Control, which allows it to lean into a curve, much like a motorcycle, to reduce any top-heavy sensation for those inside. Couple this with air suspension that delivers a magic carpet ride, front cameras that prep the suspension to absorb lumps and bumps, and truly impressive tire grip to arrive at a vehicle that is an absolute delight to drive.
Okay, not all is perfect. With the rear seats now positioned 4.7 inches farther back to increase legroom (the third row has been jettisoned entirely) plus their inability to fold, luggage space is minuscule at best. Picking up friends from the airport? Better book an Uber for their bags.
Here’s the dilemma: Do you go with the Mercedes-Maybach 600 GLS or the newly refreshed 2021 Bentley Bentayga? Tough call. Both have a comparable base price, similar V-8 power, and the same single-minded focus on luxury—though the Maybach definitely has the cooler rear seats. But with its interior aroma of white osmanthus blossom, the Maybach just might win by a nose.