Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its latest concept, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury, at the Beijing auto show where the automaker is touting its creation as "a totally new archetype of a kind never seen before."
Benz says the Ultimate Luxury combines the typical strengths of the sedan and SUV body styles, sporting a traditional three-box body riding on a raised chassis and powered by a quartet of electric motors that provide fully variable all-wheel drive.
This is actually not a new concept. Subaru tried it in the late 1990s with a crossover-inspired version of its Legacy sedan that plopped that sedan's body on an Outback chassis. We'll just say we feel like there's a reason no one else has plunked a trunk on an SUV.
Smooth sheet metal and 24-inch wheels apparently made with leftover jet engine turbines lend the car a substantial appearance. Mercedes-Benz suggests we should be wowed by the car's "majestic look" and "balanced proportions" – there's a sense of the imposing look one might more readily associate with British super-lux sedans from Rolls-Royce and Bentley, but here marketed as an SUV.
This marks Maybach's first crack at an SUV model, but it's not quite what we envisioned. In early 2017, Benz boss Dieter Zetsche told the media that vehicle would be based on the Mercedes-Benz GLS, leading us to think it would sport a more common two-box shape.
While we can get behind the way this car looks from the front, the profile and rear views look like the kind of weird one-off a Russian oligarch might pay for with Bitcoin. Why would Benz create something so bizarre? Because it combines the two most popular body styles among luxury buyers, something that Benz says is particularly true in upscale-car-crazy China.
It'd be easy to forget about that, though, once ensconced in quilted white leather seats and surrounded by rose gold and wood trim. As if channeling those Brit brands, the rear seating area features a tea service that can be hidden away in the centre console at the touch of a button.
Feeding the car's four-motor electric drivetrain is an 80 kWh battery pack that's good for 750 hp and an estimated driving range of more than 320 km, and five minutes of DC fast charging allows the battery to take up enough juice for 100 km of driving.