Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - NEWS -

We were ex­pect­ing Mercedes to build a di­rect ri­val to the Bent­ley Ben­tayga, Roll­sRoyce Cul­li­nan and up­com­ing BMW X7, but we thought it would sim­ply be a re­badged Maybach GLS.

Mercedes re­launched Maybach in 2015 to serve as a sub-brand in the range. Like AMG is linked to per­for­mance, the Maybach name is meant to be the very last word in lux­ury.

In­stead of adding an ad­di­tional layer of lux­ury to the al­ready op­u­lent GLS, Mercedes seems to be de­vel­op­ing an en­tirely new car. It’s still in the con­cept phase, how­ever, and is cur­rently called the Vi­sion Mercedes-Maybach Ul­ti­mate Lux­ury.

The Vi­sion is a strik­ing ve­hi­cle, thanks to de­sign lan­guage car­ried over from Maybach’s long history. It’s ex­trav­a­gant, ma­jes­tic and sporty. Like an S-Class that’s been sent to the gym af­ter it spent six months in but­ler train­ing.

Be­ing the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of lux­ury, the in­te­rior ob­vi­ously mat­ters. In­te­rior colours are a mix of rose gold, crys­tal white and pearl grey. Mercedes doesn’t state ex­actly what ma­te­ri­als were used but it’s safe to as­sume the leather hide isn’t sim­ply from some cow it picked up on the out­skirts of Stuttgart.

Mercedes makes no secret that the Vi­sion is all about be­ing driven. The driver’s area is ac­tu­ally rel­a­tively plain, as it fea­tures only the bare ne­ces­si­ties like air vents, a fancy steer­ing wheel and a widescreen cock­pit dis­play.

The fan­ci­est toys are to be found in the back. The seats are equipped with the kind of ad­just­ment and sup­port only found on cars where the re­tail price is given on ap­pli­ca­tion. They re­cline, have ex­tra-soft knee cush­ions and are shod in crys­tal white nappa leather.

The rear cen­tre con­sole is equipped with a heated tray with a teapot and cups. The tea tray is made of the finest ebony and it re­tracts at the touch of a but­ton.

It can also ap­par­ently sense your mood, knows what ap­point­ments you have to at­tend on any given day and will ac­com­mo­date the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence ac­cord­ingly. Un­like ev­ery other lux­ury barge, the Vi­sion has al­most no buttons, touch­screen with sub-menus and the like. It only wants to of­fer you an agree­able playlist while serv­ing you any one of the var­i­ous flavours of tea.

It’s also a fully elec­tric ve­hi­cle, with four com­pact per­ma­nent-mag­net syn­chro­nous mo­tors, one for each wheel. It of­fers fully vari­able all-wheel drive, which makes sense con­sid­er­ing that it has 550kW of elec­tri­fy­ing power on tap. Top speed is lim­ited to 250km/h to avoid any tea spilling and Mercedes claims it has a driv­ing range of over 500km.

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