The new Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet is dialled all the way up to attack mode
A pall of gloom descended on petrolheads around the world on that bleak day in November 2011 when Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche announced that the iconic Maybach would be euthanised. This was the car that hip hop royalty, actual royalty and heads of state from around the world loved and owned. The Maybach badge was to Mercedes-Benz what Bentley is to the Volkswagen Group or Rolls-Royce to BMW – flagship statements of gratuitous luxury.
The universe has its way of mending itself though. Forward to 2014, and Daimler had a change of heart. The Maybach was reborn, christened now as the Mercedes-Maybach (hyphen not optional). The Mercedes-Maybach S600, S500 and Pullman that were subsequently released under the new partnership showed that even though the brand was consigned to the cold storage for three years, it hadn’t lost its mojo. Then at the Geneva Motor Show this year, Mercedes-Maybach pulled the covers off its first-ever SUV with Maybach signage on it – the G650 Landaulet.
So how did it come up with this steroid-addled machine? Simple. It started off with a portal axle chassis of the 4X42, threw in a meaty G65 AMG twin-turbo V12 and added the first-class rear seats from an S-Class into the mix to create a blend of a highly-capable off-road vehicle that is also one of the most luxurious SUVs within its segment.
With a ground clearance of 17.7 inches, even if you pointed this in the direction of errant cabbies who think of driving as a contact sport, you’re more likely to drive over them, rather than into them – well, almost.
Like with any G-Class, the driver’s seat is the best seat in the house. Still, that’s not where you want to be if you are prone to bouts of road rage. The V12 6-litre biturbo produces significant bite – 630hp and 737lb ft of torque that begins to kick in as low as 2,300rpm. It’ll hit the 60mph mark from a standstill in under six seconds and can keep accelerating until it gets to its top speed of 150mph.
The automatic gearbox has a seven-speed torque converter and the four-wheel drive system features three separate differential locks. In plainspeak, this SUV can scale a hill with the sure footedness of a mountain goat, ford a river with the grace of an Olympic synchronised swimming team and completely destroy a sand dune in a scene straight out of Mad Max.
If the driver’s seat is the most coveted in the G650 Landaulet, the rear seats come in at a close second. The two “first class” massage-enabled rear seats can recline nearly flat. The folding tables stow in the centre console and the thermal cup holders can keep your soy latte warm during the drive. Robbe & Berking silver champagne flutes are tucked away in another compartment and each rear passenger has their own independent 10-inch infotainment screens.
A glass partition separates the front seats from the rear. Need privacy? Flick a switch, and it’ll go from transparent to opaque. If you want to be admired by the hoi polloi instead – not an entirely irrational urge considering you are riding in one of the world’s most expensive SUVs – you can electronically retract the fabric roof that covers the rear passenger area.
There are only 99 units of the G650 Landaulet on sale, with customer deliveries beginning this month, at a jaw-slacking price of over $740,000 each. This Maybach is alive.