Mercedes Maybach S-Class

Uber luxury in an understated body

9.4
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 5 reviews
  • Huge luxury
  • Endless gadgets
  • Powerful V12 engine
  • British rivals plusher still
  • Anonymous looks
  • Running costs
 

£170,610 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

24 MPG

Review

Mercedes has already used the Maybach name to try and crack into the super-luxury class, but the old models – called 57 and 62 – failed to sell in the numbers required. Next to a Rolls Royce or Bentley, they were down on class, short on appeal and just a little crass.

The Mercedes-Maybach S600 is the latest effort and – unlike the old cars – it makes no attempt to hide its S-Class origins. It looks almost exactly the same as the standard car, which may appeal to rich customers that don’t want to draw attention like a Bentley Mulsanne or Rolls Royce Phantom.

You may have to park the Maybach next to a standard long-wheel-base (LWB) S-Class to spot that it is 207mm longer and 2mm taller. Interior space has increased significantly as result.

Power comes from a turbine-smooth 6.0-litre V12 that’ll cost lots to run and maintain, but ensures the Maybach has the kind supercar-worrying performance and silent operation that is expected of its breed.

Hinting at the length of the standard kit list, there is only one option to specify on the regular Maybach. Called the First Class Cabin pack, it nets you individual rear seats that can recline and a fridge complete with silver-plated champagne flutes.

From the driver’s seat there is little to differentiate the Maybach from a regular S-Class. It shares the standard car’s large digital displays (one of which replaces the conventional instrument binnacle found in lesser vehicles), has acres of leather and wood, and sports the S-Class’ sporty circular air vents.

The Command control system is also present and correct, although – as almost every conceivable option comes as standard – there are many more menus to navigate through than in the regular car.

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class passenger space

It’s only when you lower your well-heeled posterior into the rear passenger compartment that the extra expense of the Maybach really pays off. Here it sports a huge 159mm of extra legroom over the standard LWB car, while Mercedes’ rejigging of the rear seats increases headroom by 12mm. Buyers get a variety of leather, roofliners and trim finishes to choose from – all of which come as part of the price.

The only option available – ignoring paint finishes – is the £7,200 First Class Cabin pack. It’s hard to imagine many owners not opting for it given the price of the car. It dumps the three-seat bench in favour of two individual chairs and adds a champagne fridge (integrated of course) complete with silver-plated flutes and temperature-controlled cupholders.

If you’re not in the mood for champers, the seats can recline by up to 43.5 degrees as footrests appear from under the front seats. The result is something akin to first class on an airliner – just a hell of a lot plusher. Mercedes even takes the pain out of barking orders to the chauffeur by subtly amplifying your voice through the car’s stereo.

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class boot space

With a 500-litre capacity, the Maybach’s boot is 100 litres bigger than the standard S-Class’ but 15 litres short of the boot you get in a BMW 7 Series. Specifying the First Class Cabin option eats into capacity significantly thanks to the addition of the rear passengers’ fridge.

Lets be clear – the Maybach is designed not to be driven, but to be driven in.

For a kick off, it’s much quieter than the standard Mercedes S600 – journalists who compared the two said there was an appreciable difference thanks to its added sound deadening and foam-filled tyres.

As standard it gets the Magic Body Control system that’s optional on lesser S-Class models. Its cameras scan the road, relying information to a central control unit that then primes the suspension accordingly. The result is comfort that is beyond reproach and perfectly matched to the car’s smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Push on in corners and you’ll find the Maybach keeps body roll in check and steers predictably, but despite the Sport button this is not a car that has been designed to (or particularly enjoys being) hustled.

Fitting a 523hp, twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 petrol engine to a 2,335kg saloon was never going to be a recipe for low runnings costs and so it follows that the Maybach can return fuel economy of just 24.1mpg, and CO2 emissions of 274g/km mean it sits in the highest VED bracket – costing £505 to tax annually.

Lets face it, though, if you can afford a Maybach none of this will bother you. What you will care about – smoothness, quietness and effortless performance – are exactly what the V12 does best. Mercedes says it is the quietest and smoothest car you can currently buy – a claim reviewers weren’t keen to argue with, while its 0-62mph time of 5.0 seconds means it’ll nip at a Porsche 911’s rear wheels off the lights.

Nearly every option you care to think of – and plenty you haven’t – come as standard on the Maybach. Leaving you to decide only if you want the £7,200 First Class Cabin pack.

As standard you get a brilliant 1,540-watt 24-speaker Burmeister stereo, and a ventilation system that scents and ionises the air passing through – the claim is that oxygen in ionised air is easier for the lungs to absorb. All-four seats are cooled, heated and have a massage function; while prying eyes are kept at bay by the car’s electrically operated rear blinds.

Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard

Costing nearly three times as much is the Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard. Effectively an armour-plated version of the regular car, even its windows can repel a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade and multiple shots from an automatic rifle. Steel bands mean its tyres stay on the wheels no matter what, the fuel tank (modelled on an Apache attack helicopter’s no less) can self-seal bullet holes, while a fresh-air system protects the car’s occupants from poisonous gas attacks.

Conclusion

Instead of trying to beat Rolls Royce and Bentley at their own games – something the old models failed to do – the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 goes its own way. From the outside at least, it’s a subtle machine compared to either of its British rivals.

And, while the interior might not share the feel of craftsmanship held dear by the competition, the Maybach’s refinement and huge list of equipment means (technically speaking) it is the superior car. Throw in a price that’s significantly cheaper than what rivals ask and it’s easy to see why discerning buyers may be swayed to Mercedes’ way of thinking.

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