The Maybach is back. This troubled brand has finally been relaunched, as a supersized S-Class with a V12 providing the grunt. It’s true that it has been a few years since the Maybach brand, which used to be owned by Daimler, slowly slid below the water as the result of patchy sales and stiff competition from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. But now, under the Mercedes umbrella, it appears ready to re-enter the race.
A long wheel base S-Class, the Maybach boasts a sizeable list of options, but before we get to the interior, let’s judge the book by its cover. At first glance, there’s little difference between the Maybach S600 and her S-Class siblings. The shape is quintessentially Mercedes, yet there are subtle distinctions. For one, the grille has been redesigned slightly to give it a more classic look, the rear doors are lengthier to ease access and the S600, despite being the longest vehicle in the fleet, appears balanced and proportioned. A beautiful machine, there’s nothing bulky about it — see it at a distance, and you’d be hard pressed to identify it and surprised when you finally do.
But who are we kidding, this car shines through its passenger experience, so here we go. As a car designed for the driven, rather than the driver, the addition of sound dampening technology to the monstrous V12, as well as improved door seals and cushioned tires means that the S600 is an effortlessly smooth, quiet ride, deceptively so when you consider the block of rumbling metal that lies under the hood.
In the aptly named First Class Cabin, the rear area of the Maybach, you’ll find a small freezer, large enough for several bottles of champagne, a hidden recess with champagne flute holders, fold-away airplane style tables and another glass holder that, get this, can either chill or heat your glasses — this is an area that’s designed with comfort in mind. The seats have ludicrously soft headrests and some of the most comfortable padding I’ve ever sat on. Oh, and they’ll massage you too. Of course, you’ve also got your independent AC, reading lights, two screens linked to a DVD player and curtains for the windows.
So where does this leave us? Between Bentley, Rolls-Royce and the Maybach, lovers of large luxury cars are spoiled for choice. Above all, the Maybach leaves a sense of attention to detail that only Mercedes can get right. Sitting somewhere between the Flying Spur and the Ghost, the Maybach is quite clearly a spectacular machine. The fixtures might not be quite as refined as a Rolls, and it might not have the all round good looks of a Flying Spur, but it’s certainly one hell of a car. Welcome back, old friend.