The Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet—a hard-top/soft-top G-Wagen built atop the already suspiciously bonkers G500 4X4 Squared—is expected to surpass $500,000, making it the most expensive production SUV ever sold. Though it'll have a limited production run of just 99, it is a particularly splashy component of Mercedes' high-margin, low-volume luxury play.
True to the form of the landaulet style, the G650 has a hardtop front row with a retractable fabric roof over the rear seats. And those rear seats are of the executive variety, plucked straight from the impossibly comfortable rear row of the Mercedes-Maybach S550 has a thermally-controlled cupholders to chill the champers in that brutal Emirati heat.
At the reveal the day before the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Landaulet is imposing, imperious and slightly absurd. It's fit and finish looks like it could have been lifted from the interior of Lewis Hamilton's private jet, it has a third taillight that sticks up over the spare like the eyes of a droid and stands eight feet above ground level. It has a retractable and dimmable glass partition to separate the front and rear seats, and all the footrests and folding tabletops of the Maybach S550.
Only 99 Landaulets will be made.
Mercedes battled for years to revive the Maybach, a lavish brand from the 1930s that reflected none of the qualities of the Great Depression. In 2014, it finally hit on a successful mix of taking top-shelf Mercedes platforms like the S-Class and stretching them out into ridiculous comfortliners with kingly roominess and textures that only the softest of hands can fully appreciate.
But at Daimler, churning out high-margin vehicles like the Maybach is a way to cushion the blow of a research and development budget that has increased by 25% in a year to accelerate the production of its autonomous driving features, electric car programs, and a ride-sharing platform—all keys to staying ahead of BMW as the top-selling German car.