Range The very top of the
Mercedes has revived the Maybach name for its new flagship S-clas. Virtuozity ta kes a lok at how the ‘haves’ travel in style
There seems to be multitude of ‘lost’ car brands. Companies that once produced high-end, luxury cars for the well heeled, only to disappear into the history books. Names such as Dusenberg, Graham Paige, Gordon Keeble, Tatra, Studebaker and many more. Then there’s Maybach, which has hung on through thick and thin, with more comebacks than an ageing rock star.
Born in 1909, the brand started out as a subsidiary of the mighty Zeppelin, building engines to power the huge airships, before diverting into luxury car making. The Second World War brought things to a halt, but the company managed to get production running again, once hostilities had ceased.
It was then bought by Daimler in the 1960s to make special editions of its Mercedes models, eventually seeing a brief resurgence in 1997, when Daimler relaunched it as a standalone brand with the Maybach 57 and Maybach 62. However, the cars didn’t prove popular, selling less than 3,000 units over the whole period, before it was closed again in 2013, potentially ending the Maybach name for good.
But the brand was thrown a lifeline in 2015, when Daimler announced that Maybach would become a sub-brand of Mercedes, pushing the luxury message, whilst AMG concentrates on the sporting message.
One thing is for sure. Mercedes has certainly hit the luxury target right in the bull’s eye, as the interior of the Maybach S600 is something to behold. To say the Maybach is fully loaded would be the understatement of the year. If it exists in the motor industry, chances are its fitted to this car. There probably aren’t enough superlatives to do it justice, so we’ll just stick with extreme luxury for now.
Sliding into the welcoming embrace of the Maybach, there’s no gear selector as per many other Mercedes models (there is, of course—its behind the steering wheel, like an old-style column shift). There’s also what you think is a place to rest your hand, but is in fact a track pad for the infotainment system.
And whilst your thinking about all this, the seat starts to give you a full massage, just to keep you awake. This is no heated
seat with a roller in the back; it’s a full-on massage, with kneading and pressure.
To list everything fitted to the car would take more pages than this magazine prints, but key items are an exclusive Maybach perfume, called Agarwood for fragrancing the Air-balance system, a Burmester high-end 3D surround sound system, and special tweeters in the rear doors, which can be moved towards the passengers in a spiral motion.
At the rear, the refrigeration package takes up so much of the boot, you’d struggle to get a big suitcase in it. Had it been positioned off to one side, it would have left a decent sized boot capable to swallow the holiday luggage for an entire family.
But you do get two silver-plated, handcrafted champagne flutes to make up for the lack of boot space.
On the outside, the car is physically about five centimetres longer than a normal long-wheelbase S-class, but you’d be hard pushed to see the difference. Oddly, the doors are 66 millimetres shorter, so that the rear passengers sit behind the C-pillar, giving additional privacy. It’s also adorned with Maybach badges behind the rear doors and on the boot lid.
Wafting along the roads of the UAE, it’s exactly what you would expect: effortless. The ride is exceptionally smooth and the world outside doesn’t penetrate your lovely world, due to some seriously clever noise reduction techniques.
Of course, there’s also a Mercedes 6.0litre, V12 bi-turbo under the hood, producing 523 hp and 612 Nm of torque, so despite its mass (it weighs in at just under 2.4 tonnes) when you floor the accelerator, it accelerates like a sports car, hitting 100 km/h in just over five seconds.
Top speed is irrelevant, but it’s up there with the Mercedes S500. If you want to go at those sorts of speeds, you’ve bought the wrong car. The Maybach is all about effortless progress in extreme comfort. It’s a job it does very well.
The Mercedes Maybach is amazing, clever, strong and incredibly comfortable. But the big question is what there is beyond the badge. Almost all the options, save the few mentioned above, are available on both the S500 and S65 AMG.
It’s slightly longer and has a few Maybach badges dotted around it, but on the whole the differences between the ‘standard’ S-class Virtuozity tested in Canada at its launch two years ago and the Maybach are not huge.
Of course this may be a taster of things to come from Mercedes with the Maybach brand, but in the end it all comes down to taste. If you want a performance top-ofthe-range Mercedes, buy the AMG, but if you want the luxury, the right badge and the extra legroom, then only the Maybach will suffice.
Either way, the massage function is highly recommended.