In the early 2000s, there were no better markers of conspicuous consumption then the Maybach. Seen as a cynical attempt to break into the ultra-luxury market after turning down the opportunity to buy Rolls-Royce and Bentley in the 1990s, Mercedes revived a luxury nameplate that disappeared in the 1930s, and began building an ultra-exclusive car on a stretched S-Class W140 chassis. The trouble was, by the time the Maybachs began rolling off the assembly line in 2002, they were being built on a decade-old platform. What’s worse, the original models, the Series 57 and 62 were huge cars with polarizing styling that that proved to be incredibly unpopular and seemed to define the term “luxo-barge.”
Ten years later, Maybach had sold fewer than 3,000 cars worldwide, and was reportedly losing over $500,000 on each car. As the cars continued to age, and the base price of the three-ton Series 57 (the smaller one) ballooned to $376,300, Mercedes decided to quietly discontinue the brand in 2013. Unfortunately, news about Maybach’s death created more fanfare than any of its cars ever did, with headlines like “Mercedes puts Maybach out of its misery” announcing to the world that the brand was finally gone.
But, last fall, Mercedes announced that it’s bringing the nameplate back. And this time, they’ve done everything right.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S600 excels in every area where the old Maybach failed. In many ways, the new car is closer to the iconic Mercedes 600 than last decade’s dud. Instead of attempting to create a new brand to compete against prestigious marquees like Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Mercedes has elevated their near-perfect new S-Class to the next level by creating a luxury car with tasteful, understated looks and an opulent interior that can make a serious claim for the world’s best.
Inside, the Maybach is more private jet than private car. It spent hours in wind tunnel testing – not for aerodynamics, but so the engineers could perfect the sound insulation and lay claim to the title “Quietest Car in the World.” Most interior surfaces are covered in hand-stitched leather (including the door panels and dashboard), and just about everything else is either wood or chrome. Standard features include a panoramic sunroof, an exclusive Maybach fragrance that wafts through the air vents, a Burmeister surround-sound stereo, and silver-plated champagne flutes. Between the rear seats, the center console has individual control panels for the climate control, and can be equipped with leather-lined retractable tables, and cup holders that can heat or cool beverages.
Mercedes promises that the Maybach’s two rear seats will create “a new dimension in seating and resting comfort for the rear passengers,” and they don’t disappoint. With 12.6 inches of knee room (over the standard S-Class’s 6.5 inches), the diamond-stitched leather thrones recline at a 43.5 degree angle, and come with Mercedes’s “Energize” hot stone-style massage system. Mercedes boasts these features will “set new standards in sleeping and resting.” As one of the few cars in the world designed entirely around the rear passengers, all of these superlatives might just ring true.
Outside, the new car wears a three-pointed star as a hood ornament, with the Maybach’s elaborate “M” logo relegated to two small badges on the C-pillar. The wheelbase is stretched 8 inches over the standard S-Class, which nearly matches the old Maybach’s wheelbase while keeping the new Benz a full foot shorter than the old car. Propelled by Mercedes’s 523 horsepower twin-turbo V12 engine, the Maybach has a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and can silently propel its occupants from 0-60 in five-seconds.
Augmenting the car’s performance, the Maybach also comes equipped with all of the new S-Class’s technical wizardry, with an all-digital instrument panel with a heads-up display, automatic breaking that detects pedestrians and traffic, and an intuitive suspension system. The Maybach also has exclusive seat cushion air bags to protect occupants that are fully-reclined in a crash.
All of the technical wizardry combined with old-world luxury make the new S600 Maybach a true contender. A $190,275 base price puts it squarely in a class with the $200,000 Bentley Flying Spur, and makes it a bargain compared to the $289,200 Rolls-Royce Ghost II. Instead of trying to create an all-new brand to compete against the most prestigious luxury marquees, Mercedes has taken an already world-class car and made it even better. The new Mercedes-Benz S600 Maybach is a true equal of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley in every way. As a result it’s something the old Maybach never was: one of the world’s best cars.
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