Mercedes-Maybach occupies a rarefied place at the top end of Mercedes’ extensive passenger car lineup. This is the realm of ultra-luxury, where the focus is on riding, not driving, with the focus on the spacious rear seats of the Maybach.
We will arrive later at this superior class accommodation, as the driver hardly skimps on sybaritic extras.
As its looks suggest, the Mercedes-Maybach is essentially an S-Class that’s been shelved and given lessons in behavior.
Given that there was nothing inherently wrong with the S-Class in the first place, how did the company manage to make it even more OTT?
The answer lies in Maybach’s focus on detail. The Maybach name is widely associated with engines, and not in a good way – the company’s diesels powered the majority of German tanks in World War II – although it also built a few overbearing limousines in the years before that. -war.
Acquired by Mercedes in 1960, the name experienced a disappointing revival in 1997, when despite a completely bespoke design for the 57 and 62 sedans (5.7m and 6.2m long respectively), they were not deemed special enough to challenge Bentley incumbents. and Rolls-Royce.
This iteration ended in 2013 and Maybach returned as a luxury designation in 2015, this time as a prestige badge attached to the Mercedes name.
Rather than sticking to one model, there are Maybach versions of the S-Class and the GLS SUV, with a Maybach-ified version of the EQS SUV also in the works (planned as a concept last year).
If that’s not all, Maybach also represented the German automaker’s most avant-garde trends when it teamed up with the late Virgil Abloh for the powerful Project Maybach concept, shortly before the designer’s death in 2021. .
Mercedes-Maybach S580: a superlative way to be driven
In this endeavor, the Mercedes-Maybach S580 could be forgiven for feeling a bit understated, considering it’s the “entry-level” size and spec for a whole world of customization and excess.
However, your landmarks should be very temperamental if you felt the least bit uncomfortable.
The S580 takes the essence of the S-Class and adds another layer. From the soft, plush headrests, to the multi-level ambient lighting, to the deeply complex entertainment system (there are screens everywhere), to the sheer volume of space, the Maybach is a thoroughly superlative way to drive. A champagne fridge, a Burmester sound system, first class cabin style seats; all are composed to the extreme.
For the rear passengers, there are buttons for every conceivable eventuality. The seat-integrated massage programs – front and rear – knead and squeeze like a pro, while there’s also a suite of spa-like wellness programs that transform the interior with sound, light, visuals and even scents to refresh and revitalize.
In short, the Maybach has everything the chakra-conscious plutocrat could imagine.
If there’s a downside, it’s that Mercedes’ take on ultimate luxury isn’t particularly adventurous – Abloh’s avant-garde sensibility is notably absent.
It’s a very chrome-and-rose-gold sort of luxury, the type you might find in an Aman or a Four Seasons, or a very high-end, long yacht. Thorough, impeccable, but also a little bit soulless.
The S680 model adds another dimension of performance, with the inclusion of Mercedes’ V12 engine instead of its V8, although both have four-wheel drive.
Don’t pity the driver too much, as neither variant lacks power, and there’s four-wheel steering to help the 5.4m-long machine navigate twisty city roads.
Front and rear passengers enjoy an industry-leading level of quiet and ride refinement. Like Rolls-Royce, there’s little indication the engine even exists, although the Mercedes offers a ‘Sport’ mode for a slightly more responsive drive.
If you’re not driving, you’ll probably ask for ‘Maybach’ mode to be left on all the time – it forces the suspension to focus on the welfare and comfort of rear passengers above all else.
The S-Class traditionally pioneers a boatload of automotive technology, but given that the ‘standard’ car predates the Maybach model, there aren’t any stunning displays of futurology on screen.
You get Mercedes’ excellent MBUX console, plus a heads-up display that includes augmented navigation arrows – perfectly overlaid on the road and junctions ahead.
Again, these are just trifles for the average Maybach owner, who will have little need for everyday driving gear. If you can afford it, and until these cars are able to do away with drivers altogether, the Mercedes-Maybach is the ultimate means of self-driving.
Mercedes-Maybach, from £172,960 for the S580 4MATIC