Off-road absurdity, thy name is Maybach G650 Landaulet
When it came time for Mercedes to create its latest ultra-luxurious Maybach model, it had a few options. Having transformed the S600 Pullman and S650 Cabriolet, it would have made sense to move onto the S-Class Coupe or maybe even the E-Class, but sometimes the world just doesn't make sense. Need proof? Just take a look at the Maybach G650 Landaulet.
On the surface, the G-Class isn't the most logical base for an ultra-luxurious special edition. The current version has been in production since 1979 and, although it's been treated to a few choice improvements since, very little has changed. That means the car is still built on a ladder frame chassis, still has the aerodynamics of a brick, and handles like a baby giraffe on stilts.
Measuring up at 5,345 mm (17.5 ft) long and 2,235 mm (7.3 ft) tall, with ground clearance just under half a meter, the G650 doesn't really fit into any existing class of car. It doesn't get any easier to pigeonhole when you take the funky roof into account, either – rather than a full convertible top, Maybach has fitted a soft top that uncovers the two rear seats, while the driver (chauffeur) and passenger remain under a hard roof up front. Furthering the separation of driver and passengers, the front cabin can be separated from the rear with a sliding glass screen that transitions from clear to opaque at the push of a button.
This setup isn't unique to the G650 – Landaulet translates to small landau, and has been used to describe vehicles with a small folding hood over the rear seats since the days of horse-drawn carriages. The most recent car to run with the moniker was the Maybach 62 Landaulet, one of the last cars produced before Maybach became a badge applied to high-end versions of existing Mercedes models.
Given how loooong the car is, rear seat passengers should have an abundance of legroom in their individual reclining thrones. They've actually been borrowed from the S-Class, and include a full suite of massage programs, along with a swivelling calf rest. After all, nothing ruins the illusion of luxury like a set of unsupported calves. While they're being massaged, rear-seat passengers are able to enjoy a heated or cooled drink from the central cupholders and, if they're on a work trip, take care of business using the integrated folding tray tables. Naturally, the tables are topped with leather to stop tablets and notebooks from sliding around.
Should the lucky (crazy) rear passenger be travelling for pleasure instead of business, twin 10-inch displays mounted on the partition between front and rear can be called into action. If that's not enough entertainment, fiddling with the intensity of the interior lighting could be a good way to pass the time and, should sir/madam tire of that, they could always lower the chauffeur partition and throw grapes at the driver.
Luxurious trimmings aside, the G650 Landaulet should also be a very capable off-roader. It runs with portal axles borrowed from the G500 4x4 Squared for a whopping 450 mm (17.7 in) of ground clearance, more than double what's offered on the regular G500. Sitting on 22-inch wheels and 325/55 section tires with the usual off-road transfer case and fully locking differentials fitted, there are very few obstacles capable of stopping the Landaulet off-road.
As you might expect of such a high-end special edition, power comes from a twin-turbo AMG V12 pumping out 463 kW (630 hp) of power and 1,000 Nm (738 lb.ft) of torque. Such huge numbers combined with the G's blocky shape mean fuel consumption isn't exactly a strong point – on the combined cycle, it returns 17l/100km (14 mpg). Then again, if you can afford such an exclusive car, the price of gas probably isn't chief among your concerns.
Just 99 examples of the G650 Landaulet will be built, and the car is set to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March. No pricing information has been announced, but if you have to ask, there's no way you can afford it.
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The Merc G actually started off as a military vehicle, known as the Puch G and as the Peugeot P4 (French forces only and powered by Peugeot rather than Mercedes). The later civilian G-Wagen (or G Class) obviously can't escape from it's utilitarian origins no matter how much 'bling' they throw at it.
Guess this will be a bit hit with the uber-rich as a safari vehicle, or maybe 'gangsta rap' artists- once they've found 30-inch chromed wheels to fill out the wheel arches, that is...
Didn't know Austrians got a time machine to copy that!