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Mercedes-Benz S-Class vs Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600


Being obnoxiously rich certainly has its perks but it also brings with it its own set of problems. One of them is choosing the right luxury car yourself.

Ahh, to have to choose between the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. It’s a predicament that many would love to find themselves in. Alas, it’s a choice reserved for those who have Rs 2.5-crore-Rs 3 crore and think, “car” not “house”. These cars are for the people who see a big bill and think “tax write-off” and not “cost”.

Would it really be possible to choose one based purely on logic? Do you compare variants and see whose seats massage more points of your body or how many drive modes you get? Probably not, but you might consider these points of thought:

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  • Be it for design or size, they’re both head turners. Onlookers can immediately tell these cars are expensive.

  • In India, you’d almost instinctively expect either one of these to be followed by an Innova, Fortuner or Scorpio loaded with bodyguards.

  • They offer very different vibes of wealth expression. In design, they’re unlikely to appeal to the same buyer equally.

  • The S-Class reads ‘old money’. Chances are, a limousine in the family is just one of those things that’s always been around in the S-Class buyer’s world. 

  • It’s big in size, big on road presence, low-slung and just elegant but even with the blingy new bits, isn’t in-your-face about any of it. It knows it’s an S-Class and has nothing to prove. 

  • The Maybach GLS takes a very different approach to luxury car style. Aside from being taller and more herculean on the road, its aesthetics are also louder!

  • It’s positively gleaming with the amount of shiny chrome on it, comes with big Maybach badges on the D-pillars to tell you this isn’t just a GLS, and the wheel size goes up to 23 inches!

  • Despite the SUV’s width and bulbous haunches, the rear 325/40-section tyres bulge outward, adding to the car’s muscular stance.

Toys Are Us

There are some gimmicks or cool but useful things on offer with both.

  • The S-Class gets pop-out door handles that sit flush with the body when locked.

  • It also gets 4.5-degree rear-wheel steering (10-degree option unavailable in India). It may sound like a gimmick but makes a world of difference while cornering or, more importantly, while making u-turns.

  • In the GLS 600, you get adaptive LED tail lights that alter their performance based on the ambient lighting conditions.

  • The Maybach GLS also gets pop-out side steps that sway out every time a door is opened. Should you want your bodyguards on them while driving, they detect the weight and won’t retract.

  • And yes, there’s the bouncy off-road mode. This is meant to get you out of sticky situations (like sand), to hop your way out, should you go dune bashing. However, it will be a party trick used exclusively on tarmac until the air suspension repair bill comes a-knockin’!

  • Both get advanced headlight setups with anti-dazzle high beams. The S-Class’ ‘Digital’ LED headlights have more functions than the GLS’ ‘Multibeam’ LED headlights. For example, the S-Class’s beams will adjust for changes in gradient ahead and it can project warning signs onto the road (technically, but it doesn’t seem to be legally permitted right now). But purely for the purpose of visibility, we couldn’t tell if one is better than the other.

  • Both get soft-close doors.

Let It Rain… Optionally

This is a section dedicated to the Maybach. If you thought the splurging ends with just the car’s price, wait for the optional extras. We’ve had a run through the GLS Maybach’s configurator and have come back with our jaws firmly on the floor. Long story short, the optional extras can add up to well over Rs 1 crore i.e. the price of a standard Mercedes-Benz GLS!

Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 Options

Price

Anti-theft protection package

Rs 1.07L

Driver assistance package plus

Rs 1.07L

Seat and armrest heating 

Rs 2.60L

Designo exclusive leather package

Rs 12.35L

Energizing package plus

Rs 2.27L

MBUX rear entertainment

Rs 5.10L

Heads-Up Display (HUD)

Rs 2.25L

Burmester 3D surround sound

Rs 8.70L

Champagne flute holders

Rs 1.71L

Folding rear table

Rs 3.84L

Rear refrigerator

Rs 2.35L

Designo Hyacinth Red Exterior Paint

Rs 1.08L

Designo Diamond White Bright

Rs 1.70L

Two-tone Maybach exterior paint 

(Obsidian Black With Rubellite Red | Emerald Greed With Mojave Silver | Obsidian Black With Kalahari Gold)

Rs 32L

23-inch Maybach forged multi-spoke wheels

Rs 12.77L

Designo Nappa Leather Interior

Rs 26L

Designo High Gloss Trim

Rs 1.20L

Wood & Leather Steering

Rs 1.26L

Sense Of Snob

  • Both feel plush and luxurious on the inside, with soft fabric or leather applied even to points you may not ever touch. They even have many sense-uplifting features in common: 64 colour ambient lighting, panoramic sunroofs (truly panoramic in the GLS 600, split in the S-Class) & loads of screens on the inside.

  • Rich as the Maybach GLS feels, the S-Class feels even better. The boat-inspired dashboard design and premium materials make it feel more special inside. The exceptions to this are piano black buttons on the steering and doors, which don’t feel like they belong.

  • The new S-Class’ cabin design is a bit daring. It’s truly modern but no longer aristocratic or old school; traits that some S-Class buyers may still prefer. Simultaneously, its futuristic experience is so immersive that it’s more welcoming for younger buyers who may have considered the S-Class to be too grown up for them otherwise. Let’s just say it’s more Silicon Valley millionaire-friendly.

  • The GLS 600 still has a bit of that old school feel, with a mix of screens and fine finish buttons. It isn’t as geeky as the S-Class, but it's still tech galore and you will not run out of stuff to play with.

  • Existing Mercedes-Benz owners will likely get cosy in the Maybach GLS’ cabin quicker than they would in the new S-Class. The catch is, it still feels like a GLS. The cabin design and quality, while still luxurious, is similar to Mercedes’ 7-seater family SUV. 

Boss Mode 

Both, of course, are expected to be chauffeur-driven cars and as such, have a lot in common.

  • Both cars offer power-adjustable, massaged, ventilated & heated seats for all occupants. They also get a boss-mode on the co-driver’s side, for a near lay-flat experience with an extendable thigh support.

  • There’s also 4-zone climate control and a rear tablet that can be used to control media functions, navigation, the seats and ambient lighting. With the rear seat entertainment screens/the rear tablet, you can also connect to the internet and stream any video/audio services (Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video etc.) via the browser.

  • The Maybach GLS edges ahead in the rear seat department. It has a greater sense of space and taller users can stretch out more in it. The taller height of entry also makes it more old person friendly to get in and out of.

  • Given that it’s a Maybach, it also has some more back seat niceties, like champagne flute holders, heated and cooled cup holders, a refrigerator and a wireless phone charger. It also has premium quality fold-out tables that are stored in the centre console. Oddly, both cars miss out on vanity mirrors for the rear passengers.

  • However, the view of the cabin from the backseat is just better in the S-Class. Never before has a car used its ambient lighting system as a trump card. The light strips emit blue/red pulses everytime you lower/raise the AC temperature, flash a red light if a car is too close while you’re overtaking, and even act as a blind spot warning while you’re getting out of the car. Activate any of the Energizing Comfort modes and you can experience the massage seats, ambient lights and sound system working together to bubble up endorphins you didn’t know you had in you.

  • While even the GLS 600 has the same functionality, the lighting setup of the S-Class can truly turn a regular drive into Pink Floyd’s Pulse concert.

We Are The Robots

  • The S-Class’s tech package is more advanced. For starters, both offer Android Auto & Apple CarPlay but the S-Class offers wireless connectivity.

Screen Overview

GLS 600

S 400d

Main Screen

12.3’’

12.8’’

Instrument Cluster

12.3’’

12.3’’

Rear Seat Entertainment Screen

11.6’’

11.6’’

Rear Tablet

7’’

7’’

  • A big talking point in the S-Class is the large portrait touchscreen. This system is notably more responsive to use and its smartphone-like interface makes it fairly easy to navigate through.

  • The S-Class’s digital instrument cluster is also something straight out of the future. The 3D mode is very cool to look at, though, it can get a little disconcerting to view on the move. 

  • This screen also shows traffic in real-time as graphical displays and the car identifies/shows cars, trucks and motorcycles on the screen. Hilariously, it will sometimes identify people as cars or show motorcycles as cars as well, until you’re within about 20-30 metres of them.

  • You can also adjust the wing mirrors without having to select them individually. Just look at them and use the adjuster on the door.

  • The GLS 600 Maybach can be equipped with a Burmester 3D surround sound system while the S-Class gets Burmester’s ‘4D’ sound system. The S-Class’ setup is the one we’d tilt towards--it’s unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Granted, the Mark Levinson system used in the Lexus LS/LX or the Bowers & Wilkins speakers used in Volvos are benchmarks in their own right but the S-Class’s seat integrated ‘exciters’ bring the concert experience home. Play your favourite song on full blast and the 4D sound system pleases the ears and body alike.

Glide & Stride

  • Thanks to its ground clearance and taller tyre profile, the GLS 600 is the more India ready limousine of the two. While it does feel ‘SUV’ i.e. body roll is more noticeable, it doesn’t feel too bouncy or floaty. Just leave it in Maybach mode and let the car figure out the rest.

  • The S-Class is also surprisingly good at dealing with broken roads. Go over a small bump or speed breaker, and the S-Class is one dunk and done, while the GLS takes an extra second to settle. But you do have to be careful over irregular speed breakers or road level changes because of the S-Class’ low stance and long wheelbase. 

  • Also, while the S-Class rides on 20-inch wheels compared to the GLS 600’s 22s (23-inch optional), the tyre profile on the Maybach is larger (by around 30mm), offering more bump absorption before the suspension needs to do its work. The S-Class’ AMG Line wheels look heartachingly beautiful but on post-monsoon pothole infested roads, you need to be extra careful.

  • Both cars have punchy engines as well. The GLS 600 with its AMG V8 has raw power at its disposal and rockets ahead at a pace that beggars belief. It’s also a near-3-ton monster running on a thirsty petrol engine, so even sedate driving will get you single digit kilometres per litre. Thankfully, it’s also very easy to drive and while you’re aware of its size, it isn’t even slightly taxing to use should you get behind the wheel yourself.

  • The S 400d offers a brilliant balance of silence while cruising, a decent engine note when you’re pushing it and with that rear wheel steering, surprisingly sharp handling. While it’s a quick car, the drama and silly fun of accelerating quickly in something as big as the GLS 600 has a novelty of its own

Side Note

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 may be a 4-seater but it has less usable boot space than the standard GLS, especially if you pack in the optional refrigerator. The spare tyre sits in the boot as well, so you’ll probably have a luggage car following you. Not a problem in the S-Class, as the spare tyre sits under the boot floor and there’s enough room for full-sized suitcases.

The Big Dotted Line

It’s hard to objectively pick a winner from the two. Both of them tug at your heartstrings in different ways. 

It would be criminal to have any glaring misses at this price point, and thankfully that isn’t the case. But when you’re offering the pinnacle of tech and luxury, the differences are complex to explain but very simply understood when experienced.

You can’t go wrong with either one, and it’s only a question of which one appeals to you more emotionally. What you’re getting here are two different personalities of a luxury car, so the right one is whatever comes closest to yours. And if you’re rich enough, just buy them both!

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 is yours for Rs 2.43 crore (ex-showroom), and options can take it to well over that, while the S-Class will set you back by around Rs 2.20 crore (ex-showroom).

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