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Review: 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600

by Mark Elias

Opulence at a relative bargain.

Packard. Talbot Lago. Duesenberg. Peerless. Rolls-Royce. Bentley. Maybach. The car as a lifestyle event, these and many others have come and gone. And come again. Such is the case with the Maybach, in the form of the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 sedan.

Dating back to 1909, Maybach-Manufaktur built heavy-duty diesel engines for aircraft, marine and rail usage, then turned to luxury automobiles until 1940, when World War II had them building tank engines. The company was bought by Daimler-Benz in 1960 for hand-building specific special edition Mercedes-Benz cars.

The Maybach brand was revitalized in 1997 with prototypes shown at that year's Tokyo Motor Show. Sales of the Maybach 57 and 62 started in the early stages of the new century, but production ceased in 2013, with just around 3,000 units sold. Being priced at a lofty $320,000 for starters, and based on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan was both a blessing and a curse, as the sales of the less-expensive S cannibalized that of the pricier Maybach.

What is it?The new 2016 Mercedes-Maybach becomes another of M-B's sub-brands, similar to Mercedes-AMG and Smart. As configured, it is a four-passenger sedan, which at this point is the pinnacle of anything wearing a three-pointed star, and as such is powered by the Mercedes motorcar engine with the most pistons. (He with the most uh, pistons, wins) The 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 makes 523 peak horsepower between 4,900 and 5,300 rpm, while 612 lb-ft of torque comes in at 1,900 and stays with it until 4,000 rpm.

The north-south configured powerplant is mated to M-B's seven-speed automatic transmission to drive the rear wheels, which can propel this lead-sled from naught to 60 mph in a flat five tics of the second hand. The Maybach's top speed is electronically governed to 155 mph.

Magic Body Control, as seen in the standard S-Class also appears here, and makes up the Maybach's fully active suspension. Using stereo cameras to scan the road surfaces, the system prepares the suspension for imperfections before the wheels actually reach them.

Opulence comes standard. A chauffeur does not.

But that doesn't mean it comes fully loaded. Choices abound and include the ability to tailor make your Maybach to be exclusively yours. From fabrics and materials to entertainment systems, seating, and refrigeration, the choices could, in some cases, require one's personal interior designer.

A panoramic sunroof is standard and optionally available with Mercedes' Magic Sky Control, which can darken or lighten the tint of the roof glass with the flick of a switch.

What's it up against?Although from a price point, the Maybach fits in (surprisingly) at the level of a fully-ticked BMW 7-series or Audi A8L, it seems more at home playing with the likes of a Rolls-Royce Ghost, or a Bentley Mulsanne. Consider it like a comparison between your local Outback and Keen's Steakhouse in New York City. They both serve steak, but the experiences are very different.

How does it look?Unmistakably a Mercedes-Benz, the Maybach S600, while not as über as the Maybach 57 and 62, has design cues that distance it from the run of the mill (if there is such a thing) S-Class model. When viewed in profile, it features a slightly taller greenhouse for improved headroom, and an obvious extension in length, measuring 8.1-inches between the B and C-pillars. By the numbers, the new Maybach S-Class measures 214.6-inches in length, with a wheelbase of 132.5-inches. In comparison, the standard S-Class checks in at 206.5-inches and 124.6-inches, respectively.

From the front, the S600 includes a stately tri-bar grille with split lamellas that also mimic the designs as seen in the lower bout's cooling intakes. The obvious lengthening that takes place behind the driver, at the B-pillar, and the stylized C-pillar that shares the rake of the Bentley Mulsanne, and more recently, the Lincoln Continental concept car, are new design cues that help to set it apart. But looks can be deceiving: The rear doors have been shortened by 2.6-inches, and as a result, the rear seats are placed behind the door opening, which effectively creates a privacy zone. That zone can be further enhanced by the automatic window shades that raise and lower as desired.

Those, and the double-M and Maybach logos are the only real clues that you are looking at this new Merc Ultra.

And on the inside?What a car. Creature comforts abound in this cocoon that happens to coddle both the driver and the passengers. More attention to detail and silence was paid to the rear cabin, which, truth be told, is really where we would have rather experienced the car this week.

With impeccable craftsmanship befitting the Maybach-Manufaktur brand, leather, chrome, wood, and perfume all do their part to create more than just a means of transportation. Custom features and fitment, including luxury-soft headrests, are featured everywhere within, while Burmester's High-End 3D surround sound system pumps out soothing or toxic tones, depending on your mood, of course.

The standard Air Balance system includes ionization, and enhanced air filtration, and even manages to spritz the cabin with Agarwood, the exclusive Maybach perfume, whose bottle is located within the glovebox. Mercedes-Benz's Splitview system is on board, which allows the front passenger to watch a DVD program, while the driver is only allowed visual access to the standard COMAND functions of Audio, Navigation, Telephone and car controls. And if that's not enough, after the sun goes down, fiber optic lighting illuminates the dashboard, door panels, footwells and even the high-frequency speakers located throughout the interior.

Our charge also included the available executive seating suite, which offered reclining functions for both rear occupants. With a seat back that moves from an upright 19-degrees to a reclining angle of 43.5-degrees, the level of comfort is infinitely adjustable. Leg supports are standard, as are custom Maybach pillows. Also included as an available option, was the refrigerated rear center console. Apparently luxury does have a price, as the cargo capacity of the trunk was reduced by almost 33-percent due to the location of the refrigerator's cooling unit.

But does it go?Pressing the ignition of the Maybach unleashes a starter motor that sounds big enough to power the new Mercedes-Benz CLA. That purr leads to a more refined grumble from the big twelve-cylinder engine, which lends to its imposing presence. The accelerator is configured with a rather tall tip-in, for stately acceleration in reserve. It is, however, readily available via a severe stomping of the skinny pedal. Examples of such were seen in the passing zones along US-1's "Seven-Mile Bridge” on the way to Key West.

The steering from M-B's progressive rack and pinion system with electromechanical power assist was very direct with its ability to speed up or slow down the rate of steering boost while negotiating a turn.

We were totally jazzed by the 21-mpg highway that the Maybach displayed while cruising to our Florida Keys rendezvous in Marathon. Around town, we saw the less-than-advertised and rather oligarchical sum of 10 miles-per-gallon. Sized like a zeppelin, which was an airship as well as a previous model in the Maybach lineup, it was quite a feat for a vehicle that weighs more than 5,300-pounds. Still, the bottom line is that if you can afford this sled, you can obviously afford its juice, too.

MG's bottom lineDaimler's Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand brings the ultra-luxe lifestyle to the rest of us. While not as high-zoot and over the top as a Phantom or other ultra-luxury vehicle, it offers incredible opulence for roughly the entry price of some higher priced conveyances.

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 Base Price, $189,350. As tested, $196,535.Designo piano black wood trim, $800; Refrigerated Rear Center Console, $1,100; Splitview monitor, $710; Executive rear seat package, $1,950; Destination and delivery, $925; Gas Guzzler Tax, $1,700.

Photos by Mark Elias. Location Assistance courtesy of VidaJets.com.

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