Say Maybach and the image that it conjures is a saloon with thick padded carpets, willowy soft seats and headrests with pillows that seem to be stuffed with goose down, and other accompanying creature comforts all symbiotically synthesised in a steel, soundproof chariot that glides on city streets as a private jet would on a mile high air stream. Exactly why the Maybach saloon is also a chariot of choice for corporate heavyweights that range from Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani to Kumar Birla of the Aditya Birla group, and scores of other captains of industry. But what has worked superlatively for decades as an expression for super luxury is now being recast as an SUV, with the newly launched GLS Maybach 600 pointing to a trend that has picked up steam.

For one, the Maybach sedan has performed well enough to risk a different body style. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach saloon since its market debut in February 2015, delivered more than 67,000 vehicles worldwide. In 2020, around 10,500 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Saloons were sold. The main markets of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Saloon have been China, Russia, South Korea, the USA and Germany in recent years.

Image : "Mercedes-Benz AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans"

The Maybach is a German car brand that exists today as a part of Mercedes-Benz. The original company was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son before it was acquired by Daimler-Benz.

Martin Schwenk, managing director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India says: “The Maybach brand represents a special place in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, irrespective of the Sedan or the SUV offerings but with the GLS Maybach, we supplement the Mercedes-Maybach Portfolio alongside the current S-Class," he says. "We are hence offering our Maybach customers different preferences and a wider choice, with both the SUV and the saloon version of the Maybach."

So far, the bookings have been robust for the German luxe players' most premium-badged SUV which cost around 4.08 crore. "The demand for the GLS Maybach has been exceptionally high and we sold 50 units even before the launch of the vehicle in India. The strong demand for the GLS Maybach has primarily been because of the high customer interest right from its global premiere," he added. Bookings for the next lot will only be delivered in March next year, officials with Mercedes-Benz say.

Apart from the standard luxe accoutrements that include a silky smooth engine, unbelievable suspension and safety features that are the best in the industry, it's also extra bells and whistles such as a holder for champagne flutes refrigerated compartments, and even a fire extinguisher that set this rig apart. The key markets of the GLS Maybach 600 SUV are China, USA, Russia and the Middle East.

Yohan Poonawalla, chairman of the Poonawalla Engineering Group and a leading car collector and aficionado says that "Mercedes Benz has been manufacturing SUVs for a very long time, the only difference now is that they have upped the game by producing a Maybach version of it, unlike Rolls Royce, which has recently forayed into this (SUV) segment. The reason for all these brands doing so is to tap the large super luxury SUV segment that had a gap in it, however having said that for me, personally, SUVs don't do much though I do own others in the form of the GL 63 AMG and a BMW X6M," he said, adding that one would not really take a Rolls Royce or Bentley SUV actually off-roading.

Jatin Ahuja, founder of exotic car dealership firm Big Boy Toyz says the super luxury SUV category includes the Aston Martin DBX, Bentley Bentega, Rolls Royce Cullinan, the Lamborghini Urus, the Range Rover SVO has taken off in India in part because of the virgin market. These cars range between ₹3 crore to around ₹9 or ₹10 crore, depending on customisations and options, he adds.

“Most of these SUVs became available after 2019 and for a market that never existed which today is showing its demand to be greater than supply, which manufacturers didn’t anticipate,” Ahuja said, underscoring the delivery wait time today on a car like a Lamborghini Urus is 12 months, for the GLS Maybach nine months, and for the Bentley Bentega anywhere between six and nine months.

Who are the drivers? “Ahuja says it's mostly the 35-plus entrepreneurs, who are in the second phase of their lives and are ready to start enjoying wealth created earlier, in their youth. That may also explain why they might pick an SUV over a sedan they saw their predecessors cruising around in.

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