Mercedes-Benz reignites the Maybach

You’ll love the hot-rocks massage. Penetrating digits pummel your lower sacrum while you “ooh” and “ahh” as the world scythes by at 155 mph.

   You recline at 43.5 hedonistic degrees, your calves supported by levitating foot rests and your head buried in pillows stuffed with feathers surely plucked from the wings of angels.

Mercedes-Benz Maybach - car review of the new luxury cruiser

   This is life in the cavernous rear compartment of Mercedes-Benz’s exquisite 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 uber-luxury limousine. To call it a mere sedan is like saying Celine Dion has a pretty voice. No, this is the closest you’ll get to a biz jet on wheels.

   Yes, this is a Maybach—the manufacturer that built cars way back when. If you discount the 1930s, when Rolls-Royce-sized Maybach Zeppelins rumbled around Germany, Mercedes assembled Maybach 52s and 62s as recently as 2013. Not that anyone bought them: Between 2003 and 2013, Maybach sold an abysmal 3,200 cars worldwide.

   Maybe the low sales had something to do with the fact that they looked like stretched Hyundais or that the last-of-the-line 62s stickered for a jaw-dropping half a million dollars. It just didn’t seem right spending that kind of loot and not having a Rolls-Royce Flying Lady or a Bentley Flying B on the bonnet.

Mercedes-Benz Maybach - interior and steering wheel

  But rather than let the brand wither and die, Mercedes has taken a different and far-more businesslike approach: It’s offering value for money.

   True, you couldn’t exactly describe a car costing $190,275 base (and just less than $200,000 nicely loaded) as a good value. But when a regular Mercedes S65 AMG costs almost $210,000 and a long-wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography Black sells for $200,995, the Mercedes-Maybach appears quite the steal. Such competitive pricing has been made possible by basing this new Mercedes-Maybach on the greasy bits of Mercedes’ successful S-Class lineup.

   The body is stretched by 8.1 inches, all of which is given to the rear cabin. While there’s no mistaking the Mercedes-Maybach’s origins, Mercedes designers have  given the car its own distinctive character.

   Up front, it’s very much S-Class. But at the rear, there’s more substance, elegance and visual gravitas. Wheels don’t come more distinctive and dramatic than the 20-inch dished and polished alloys at each corner. Ben-Hur’s chariot didn’t have rims this cool.

rear seat of the new Mercedes-Benz Maybach

   Powering the 18-foot-long leviathan is Mercedes’ thundering 523-horse twin-turbo V-12. But of course, nothing thunders in this car. As it spears from standstill to 60 mph in five seconds, the only real sensation of speed drivers feel is their bodies being squeezed into the seatback.

   Road noise? Wind noise? They don’t exist. Mercedes claims this is the world’s quietest production sedan. I wouldn’t argue.

   This also isn’t a wallowy, over-stuffed Town Car-on-steroids. In its transformation to a Mercedes-Maybach, it hasn’t lost any of its S-Class handling precision or pedigree. Like the S-Class, it comes with the truly magical Magic Body Control adaptive suspension. Using a camera to digitally scan the road ahead, the car can instantly adjust the dampers to soak up lumps and bumps, delivering a practically perfect flat ride. It’s scarily efficient.

True luxury in the new Mercedes-Benz Maybach

   If anything puzzled me, it was trying to work out who, exactly, would buy this impressive new Mercedes-Maybach. Every time I got behind the wheel, I felt I should be donning a peaked cap and gloves, which makes me think prospective customers are likely wealthy families with a driver on call or companies with chauffeurs on staff. More than 50 percent of the cars produced are earmarked for China, where the wealthy just don’t drive.

   Of course, owners could always just use the mighty Mercedes-Maybach as a relaxation chamber on their driveway and turn the hot-rocks massager up to max.


Power File

PRICE: From $189,350

ENGINE: 6-liter twin-turbo V-12

V-8 POWER: 523 hp

TORQUE: 612 pound-feet

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic

0-60: 5 seconds

TOP SPEED: 155mph

LENGTH/WIDTH: 214.7/74.8 inches

WEIGHT: 5,304 pounds

WHY WE LOVE IT: While it may lack the cachet of a Rolls or a Bentley, in every other way it’s the best luxury car in the world.


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