Is the Mercedes-Maybach SUV limo sedan the ultimate in automotive luxury – or just peak show car madness?
White leather, teapots and crockery in the centre console, reclining rosé gold-coated seats, limo-sized space for the two rear occupants.
Welcome to the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, the latest iteration of luxury from the revived Maybach brand.
Maybach is the ultra-luxury sub-brand owned by Mercedes-Benz. Originally known as Maybach Motorenbau, founded by Wilhelm Maybach in 1909, it was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1960.
After various trials and tribulations, it ceased to exist in 2012, with Mercedes pledging to concentrate on its plush big S-Class series.
But in 2014, its revival was announced, as Mercedes-Maybach, an ultra-luxurious sub-brand of Mercedes.
Various models have been launched, mostly based upon the S-Class platform, aimed at rivalling Rolls Royce and Bentley.
Last year a visually stunning – if conceptually controversial - cabriolet concept was launched last year, called the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6.
And last month the SUV limo version, grandly titled the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury show car, was unveiled in Beijing.
While a show car is an advance on a concept, it could still be heavily revised before actually making it into full production, assuming it does.
It seems the “Ultimate Luxury” is aimed at the Chinese market, and variations for the US, European and other markets might contain significant differences.
It’s an SUV of sorts, with a stretched three-box sedan look, and has been described by its manufacturer as a “crossover”, albeit not one you or I would recognise (for example the humbler Nissan Qashqai).
The show car combines the comfort and typical strengths of both body styles, the maker says.
These include the raised seating position and “athletic looks”. The car is conceived as an electric vehicle with four compact permanent-magnet synchronous motors and fully variable all-wheel drive.
It’s “a totally new archetype of a kind never seen before,” says Gorden Wagener, design boss at parent company Daimler AG.
“Our concept combines the DNA of an SUV with that of a saloon to produce an ultra-modern SUV of three-box design,” says Wagener. “With sensuality and pure sophistication, we have created a timeless vehicle that underscores the position of Mercedes-Maybach as the ultimate luxury brand.”
The manufacturer says the car also merges influences from the Western and Far Eastern hemispheres to “deliver an appealing automotive cultural dialogue”.
For instance, use is made of ‘Magic Wood’, ebony, which is traditional in Chinese furniture design. The same motif is also underlined by the combination of SUV and notchback saloon, which are the most successful body styles not only internationally, but especially on the Chinese market.
The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury offers a higher, SUV-typical seating position.
The interior sees an contrast between high-level sportiness and luxurious spaciousness in an attempt to create “the ultimate embodiment of a luxury dream automobile” and an “unprecedented world of luxury”.
Intended primarily for chauffeur-driven use, its design is strongly focused on the rear passengers and their well-being.
The driver's area and cockpit are reduced to the essentials. The interior is designed to create an atmosphere of luxurious cosiness with the rosé gold frame of the front seats is open, exposing the white leather to view.
With space and refinement modelled on the S-Class, the reclining seats feature a calf support, which is freely adjustable for length and angle. The crystal white nappa leather seats are enhanced by diamond stitching in rosé gold.
The wide centre console extends through to the rear. It is equipped with an integral, heated tray with teapot and cups, allowing exquisite tea-drinking enjoyment while on the road, a feature which may not make it to US or European version of the vehicle.
The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury is conceived as an electric car, with four compact permanent-magnet synchronous motors, it offers fully variable all-wheel drive.
The top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. No price has been given, but expect it to be well north of £200k.
This is a concept car that will split opinion, with most people likely to characterise it brash and way over the top.
To be blunt, however, your opinion won’t matter: the only views that will count is those of the sheiks and billionaires (and their children) who will buy it.
Belfast Telegraph Digital