The symbol of pre-recession excess re-emerges as a more modest S-Class star
History will not be kind to the second coming of Maybach.
Mercedes’ parent Daimler resurrected the early 20th-century German automaker in 2002 as a new über-luxe sub-brand. With a stratospheric starting price in the $300,000 range, the mission was to challenge the emerging offerings from Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Daimler predicted worldwide annual sales of 2,000 Maybachs. They were a tad off. The company actually moved about 3,000 cars… over the entire decade-long run of the brand. Ouch.
Now, in an effort to rewrite that horrific history, Mercedes is reviving Maybach yet again – with a twist. Unlike its predecessors, the all-new Maybach is not a standalone brand. As its name suggests, the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 is a stretched and otherwise pimped-out version of the already over-the-top Mercedes S-Class flagship. It incorporates the one good thing about the previous Maybachs – a stunningly commodious interior – while undoing ghastly exterior styling and ridiculous pricing. In doing so, the new Maybach appears poised to succeed, and possibly create a new, seemingly oxymoronic niche: the ultraluxury bargain.
This unusual market position is based on the strength of the standard S-Class on which the Mercedes-Maybach S600 is based. As I noted in these pages last year, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan punches far above its weight in the luxury realm. Starting around $95,000, an S550 sedan offers comfort, opulence and techo-gadgetry equal to, if not better than, cars costing twice as much. Loaded with the same goodies and then some, the new Mercedes-Maybach S600 breaks into the ultra-luxury market at a starting price around $189,000 – a whopping $100,000 less than a Rolls-Royce Ghost.
From the outside, the Mercedes-Maybach S600 retains the current S-Class’ understated elegance. Minor variations include a revised front grille, chrome around the windows and Maybach badging. The biggest change is, well, the bigness. The overall length and wheelbase have grown nearly eight inches – all of which is enjoyed by the rear passengers. Inside, tasteful swathes of wood veneer surround the reclining rear seats, which are covered in buttery soft leather. Pillowed headrests and a foldout alloy tray table complete the first-class airline vibe. Lest we forget about the chauffeurs, they are treated to the S600’s effortlessly powerful 6.0-liter V12 with its 523 ponies and 612 lb-ft of torque.
With its ultra-luxe amenities, air of exclusivity and – dare I say it – “bargain” pricing, it would appear that third time may indeed be the charm for Maybach.
BY THE NUMBERS
Sticker: $189,350 (base)
Under the Hood: 6.0-liter V12
Curb Weight: 4,597 lbs.
Horsepower: 523 hp
Torque: 612 lb-ft