Maybach was the pinnacle of Daimler’s extensive portfolio until a couple years ago when the revival of this historical division fizzled out like a New Year’s resolution two weeks into February. The failure was hardly unexpected as many wealthy individuals had never heard of the brand nor could they afford its products, even with 4,800-month financing. A long-wheelbase Maybach 62 could be optioned past the million-dollar mark, a manicured middle finger to the economically disadvantaged affluent.
Engine: 6.0L twin-turbo V12 makes 523 hp, 612 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic only
Fuel economy: 13 MPG city, 20 MPG highway, 15 MPG combined
Price: About $190,000 to start, $203,635 as tested.
But Germans don’t give up; with a teaspoon and enough thirst they’ll excavate a well and eventually build a water park. This Teutonic tenacity is characteristic of the folks in Stuttgart because Maybach is back for 2016 after a multi-year hiatus, though things are a little different this time around.
Instead of a standalone division it’s become a subset of the Benz family. Mercedes-Maybach is designed to service the world’s financial whales while Mercedes-AMG, their other sub-brand, caters to top-dollar speed freaks. Make sense? Good, because the rest of this car doesn’t.
Everything and Then Some
The Mercedes-Maybach S600 is the tip of the spear Daimler’s thrusting back into the rarified luxury market. To compete with rivals from Rolls-Royce or Bentley this car has just about everything that could be fitted inside an automobile short of a petting zoo or a roof-top polo field. Its features list is longer than the federal budget and just as difficult to discern.
Compared to the “standard” S-Class on which it’s based, the Maybach has been elongated by more than eight inches in both wheelbase and overall length. Nearly all of that stretch has been bequeathed rearward for the benefit of two very fortunate travelers. In spite of the taffy-pull this car still resembles the lesser S550, though there are a few notable exterior changes.
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For instance, the C-pillars are adorned with the Maybach interlaced-M logo, the rear door design has been altered so passengers sit behind its aft edge for greater privacy and optional 20-inch forged wheels ($3,900) are flashy enough to blind astronauts on the International Space Station. Also, the side glass and B-pillars are trimmed with additional brightwork for extra bling.
But conservative design is but a sliver of the story. Are you sore after a hard day managing corporate takeovers? The S600 will massage your cares away. Exhausted from arguing a case before the Supreme Court? Just recline one of the rear seats and it’ll provide the most restful sleep you’ve ever had without equine tranquilizers. Weary from shopping for an island in the Bahamas? Totally understandable, and luckily for you the Maybach’s cabin is supposedly the quietest of any production sedan … ever. Driving down the highway it seems as though your ear canals have been filled with expanding foam.
The S600 is equipped with a server farm’s worth of computing power; the software and silicon required to run its electronics could give an Intel engineer heartburn. The headlamps, high beams, cruise control and braking are all adaptive. There’s night vision, a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist. Two gigantic screens sprawl across the dashboard like suburbs of Los Angeles and provide even more functions than can be listed. You can get an optional refrigerator ($1,100) to keep your Dom Pérignon cold and even a pair of Maybach-branded Champagne flutes ($3,200). If you’d rather be industrious than intoxicated – that’s your loss – a pair of tray tables pop out of the console, unfurling like metallic origami. Truly, the Maybach comes with just about everything a wealthy person could ever want or need, though there is one glaring lapse.
Back Against the Wall
This car’s sole mission is to mollycoddle its aft passengers in utmost luxury. The two back buckets adjust in enough ways to make an accountant wince and are ventilated. Of course they’re heated too, as are the door panels and center arm rest. Why should your extremities suffer the ravages of a chill?
Even more impressively the S600’s executive seats recline more than 43 degrees, which is closer to flat than it sounds. Legroom is equally astounding. With the front passenger seat motored as far forward as its tracks allow, travelers eclipsing the six-foot mark can stretch out in sublime comfort.
The S550 I tested last year had a lavish cabin that blew my mind like a .38-special, but this car is a step beyond that level of excellence. Every single surface, all the nooks, corners and crannies, the headliner, floor mats, sills and even the engine bay are trimmed in materials that look like they were pilfered from the Palace of Versailles.
The door trim has been hand stitched. Its tweeter grilles glisten with chrome plating and even motor in and out when the radio is switched on. There’s a pair of heated and cooled cup holders in the aft center console. The rear seatbelt buckles pop up when a door is opened and even the floor mats are deep enough to drown in. Posing the question once again, what could this car possibly be missing? The answer is simple: hired help.
Driving Miss Daisy
About the only thing the Maybach lacks is a chauffeur. Sure, with a valid license and a little training you could pilot one of these machines but why would you want to? The car is nearly 18 feet long; at more than 132 inches its wheelbase eclipses a Chevy Suburban’s. The S600’s curb weight is nearly 5,300 pounds, about as much as the battleship USS Iowa. Clearly this is a lot of car but should a Maybach owner have to worry about the using turn signals or mingling with other vehicles? No, of course not! All that hogwash is best left to someone else, preferably wearing aviator pants and going by the name Stanwyck.
Fortunately if you do have to drive, this car packs the firepower of a capital ship; just keep the abovementioned numbers in mind while maneuvering around smaller vehicles, like Class V trucks.
Underneath its expansive hood is a delightful V12. With 6.0 liters’ worth of cylinder capacity and a pair of turbochargers this powerplant is effortless in a way that’s almost vulgar. The Maybach S600 is equipped with a stable of 523 derby-winning horses, though torque is even more prodigious with 612 lb-ft available at just 1,900 RPM. Like practically every other Mercedes, a seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. It’s been around so long I think they started building this gearbox when Gottlieb Daimler was still alive.
Acceleration is brisk with the Maybach blitzing to 60 in just 5.0 seconds, though it doesn’t seem that fast because of how refined it is. Also, when the vehicle is in eco mode the transmission starts in second gear, which ever-so-slightly blunts the engine’s ferocity. Still, it’s fast, feeling a bit like an elephant that can keep pace with cheetahs.
Encouraging you to bury the accelerator this V12 is like glass, utterly silky, totally vibration free. It’s quite remarkable. But hey, that’s the advantage of perfect primary and secondary balance inherent with this configuration.
As you’d expect, the ride is soft and Mercedes’ Magic Body Control system keeps things on an even keel, exactly what you want in a road-going air mattress.
Make no mistake; this is NOT a car you hustle around corners at speed. Aggressive driving is simply inappropriate and not that easy given the physics at play.
When it comes to Benjamins, a Maybach can be had for the price of a nice starter home, kicking off at around $190,000. The example we evaluated was conservatively optioned and wore an out-the-door price of $203,635, a figure that included $1,700 for the gas-guzzler tax and just $925 in destination fees.
Chances are Maybach owners don’t care about money if it’s less than seven figures; ditto for carbon emissions or the arctic. As for consumption, the S600 stickers at 13 miles per gallon city, 20 highway and just 15 MPG combined, three fewer than a four-wheel-drive Suburban if you’re curious.
The Verdict: 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 Review
With borderline-absurd amenities and extravagant back seats the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 has unique appeal. A select group of luxury customers will absolutely adore this super-sedan. But – and this is a big qualification – it’s a hard vehicle to justify. The trouble is a basic S550 is already such a SUPERB product, melding exemplary large-car dynamics with an outstanding interior. One of these “entry-level” S-Class models probably does about 90 percent of what the Maybach can for half the price. But of course in this segment it’s all about excellence, not value, and for customers in need of a chauffeur-driven car the S600 is exceptional. 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 Review
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