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So what does The Sweet Smell of Success actually smell like? 

When it permeates the interior of Mercedes’ stunning new $160,000 flagship SUV — the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 4Matic — it’s the flowery, light aroma of white osmanthus blossom, rounded off by a gentle leather note, with a hint of spicy tea. I kid you not.

The olfactory nostrils at Mercedes-Benz actually created this unique fragrance — naturally called Maybach — to spritz the cabin of the hedonistic new GLS 600. I guess it beats the earthy aroma of bratwurst and sauerkraut. 

With the new GLS 600, what we have is the Maybach of SUVs, the S-Class of sport-utes. Here is a super-luxe, super-decadent, bizjet-on-wheels, to challenge the likes of Bentley’s Bentayga, Range Rover’s SVAutobiography and BMW’s Alpina XB7. 

While it’s developed from the Alabama-built, full-size Mercedes GLS 4×4 — prices from $76,000 — it’s a different animal altogether.

Just look at the thing; it has more bling than Liberace at his most flamboyant Vegas best. From its flashy chrome grille to its shimmery-mesh air intake, from those towering 23-inch polished rims to that stunning two-tone paint, it oozes opulence. 

While the exterior of the new 600 will rotate heads all the way from Worth Avenue to Rodeo, it’s without doubt the interior that’s the exclamation point here.

Climb up into the back, helped by self-lowering suspension, and those rear thrones are pure Gulfstream G500. They recline aircraft-style, with elevating footrests, built-in calf massagers, back massagers, heaters and coolers, and even fluffy pillows as headrests. Trust me, you’ll never want to leave.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s a compartment ideally situated between the seats where you can chill that bottle of Bollinger (though Verve, Dom or Krug will do equally well). There’s even a couple of flutes — for drinking, not playing — at your disposal.

And to serenade you while you imbibe the bubbles, the state-of-the-art Burmester 3D surround sound system boasts 27 speakers and 1,590 watts of thumping, ear-bleeding power. 

As you might expect of a Maybach, the quality, the craftsmanship, the sheer attention to detail is nothing less than spectacular. Don’t even ask how many cows gave up their existence to line the cabin.

Yet arguably the biggest surprise and delight with this mighty Maybach is the way it drives. Of course it has the power; under the hood is a hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, just like the one in Merc’s GLS 63 AMG. Here it packs a robust 550 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. There are Peterbilts with less muscle. 

Add to this Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48-volt mild-hybrid system which can rustle up 21-hp and 184 lb-ft of additional thrust. Perfect when you have the need for speed to escape those pesky paparazzi. Pedal to the metal, you’ll hit 60mph from standstill in a mere 4.8 seconds.

Perhaps even more impressive is the way the lofty, 6,000-pound Maybach seemingly defies physics and behaves like a sports sedan through the curves. The key here is the Maybach’s so-called E-Active Body Control, which lets the SUV lean into a curve, motorcycle-style, to reduce any “top-heavy” sensation for those inside. 

Couple this with air suspension that delivers a true magic carpet ride, up-front cameras that prep the suspension to absorb lumps and bumps, and truly impressive tire grip, the 600 is a delight to drive. 

OK, not all is perfect. With the rear seats now positioned 4.7 inches further back to increase legroom — the third row has been jettisoned — plus their inability to fold, luggage space is minuscule at best. Picking up friends from the airport? Better book an Uber for their bags.

So here’s the dilemma: Mercedes-Maybach 600 GLS, or newly-refreshed 2021 Bentley Bentayga? Tough call. Both have a similar base price, both have similar V8 power, both have the same single-minded focus on luxury — though the Maybach definitely has the cooler rear seats. 

Maybe with its interior aroma of white osmanthus blossom, the Maybach just might win by a nose.

Test drive the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600 at Crown Eurocars of Pinellas Park, Mercedes-Benz of Tampa, Lokey Motors of Clearwater, Mercedes-Benz of Wesley Chapel, and Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota.

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