Mercedes-Maybach SUV concept headed for Beijing reveal in April

Then we'll see the production version late in the year in L.A.

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Mercedes-Benz has toyed with the idea of a Maybach SUV for at least 11 years. According to Autocar, we'll finally see a concept with production intent at the Beijing Motor Show next month, the luxury SUV slated for market release next year. As has been the rumor for at least six years, the Maybach people carrier will be based on a stretched version of the GLS, which moves to the company's new Modular High Architecture with the 2019 model.

Back in 2007 when Maybach was its own brand and selling roughly 300 units per year, Car magazine reported that brand chiefs were interested in convertible versions of the Maybach 57 and 62 sedans, and an SUV. Maybach built a one-off concept based on the GL — the former GLS-Class — in 2009, but never took the idea further. The rumor popped up again in 2014, then in 2015, reaching not-if-but-when status early last year. A decade on, it's finally time to play the hand.

Even though the super-luxe SUV would sit on a stretched version of what is already a three-row SUV, it's reasonable to expect the Maybach SUV will only get two rows. That would give designers plenty of extra room for seating luxury and amenities even beyond the S-Class Maybach. On the other hand, if Mercedes sticks to the rough Maybach playbook so far, a triple-row Maybach would be the only such SUV in the mid- to upper-six-figures. The S-Class 560 4Matic starts at $102,990, the S 560 4Matic Maybach starts at $168,600. Applying that spread to the $94,500 GLS 550, you'd land around $160,000 before adding the markup for a new generation. That kind of starter pricing might make a great tweener proposition. Mercedes could focus on a range of buyers who want to go upscale from the $125,300 AMG GLS 63, without needing to worry — yet — about challenging Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Power is said to come from some version of the company's oft-applied 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out 462 horsepower in the S 560, but the 3.0-liter inline-six hybrid in the S 560e is under consideration. We'll know next month, when the lightly veiled concept takes the stand in China. The full-on production version should get an introduction at this year's L.A. Auto Show.

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