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

Virtuozity - - AUTOMOBILES -

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.

En­gine Power/torque Top speed Twin-tur­bocharged 6-litre V12 523 bhp @ 5,300rpm / 612 Nm @ 1,900rpm 210 kph (lim­ited)

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