Car review: Why the Mercedes-Maybach S600 is far more than a car

The Mercedes-Maybach is something else

Luxury is a word bandied around for just about every new car launch these days. Mercedes is the real deal.

When is a car not a car? The primary purpose of the humble automobile is to mobilise people; to allow them to transport themselves to their destinations. But some cars leave that idea so far behind that you’re left wondering whether they’re actually something else entirely.
The Mercedes-Maybach is something else. It won’t be driven by its owners. It’s engineers have not slotted an extra 20cm into the centre of an already long-wheelbase S-Class only to have a sole occupant sit up front, V12 engine or not. Nor have they added rear headroom just for aerodynamic giggles, nor laid ultra-thick lamb’s wool floor mats because they’re better at keeping the floors clean.
Oh no: the S600 variant of the Mercedes-Maybach that we Brits will shortly have the chance to throw £167,000 at will come with such an astronomical, outrageous collection of fripperies that any notion of it being “just a car” goes straight out of the window (which is double-glazed, obviously). If the world’s most opulent floor mats don’t excite, perhaps the pair of silver-plated champagne flutes with accompanying fridge might. Of course, there are specially-designed flute-holders that prevent them from falling over all over the paperwork for your imminent business deal.
As standard in Britain’ the Mercedes-Maybach will have a three-person bench seat in the rear, but the soul of the car hinges on installing the “First Class” arrangement of two individual chairs with a console in between. In it you’ll find two airline-style fold-out tables for working on the move, and it also makes it easier to access the fridge. Handily there’s a pair of media screens and corresponding remote controls. Heck, each remote can also control the main computer at the front. Changed your mind about your destination? No need to speak to the peasant behind the wheel: just enter new details natural-feeling via your remote and let the “COMAND” do the commanding.


Inside the Mercedes-Maybach

Wherever you go, the double-M S600 is as quiet and smooth as cars get. Lesser engines are available on the continent along with four-wheel drive, but a 523bhp V12 driving the rear wheels is your only option here. The eerie hush in the cabin at low speeds leaves you fearing for your aural health, and even at speed you’d hear a church mouse cough. So go on, savour the moment. Bathe in your choice of seven ambient lighting colours, activate one of the six massage programmes and kick back.
The new seat backs, covered in baby-soft perforated leather, recline to 43.5 degrees while the base moves forward in tandem. The piece de resistance comes with the leg rest, which, with the extended press of a door-mounted button, rises from the floor as the front passenger seat slides out of the way. With everything in place, six-foot rear passengers can recline as fully as crash safety technically allows. Lovely.
A highlight inherited from the common-or-garden S-Class is Magic Body Control, which reads the road and allows the suspension to react to major hits with stunning effect. It doesn’t always work as it should, but when it does, the feeling of floating over speed bumps as though they’re not there is hilariously, uproariously good fun.
The Mercedes-Maybach is packed to the Magic Sky Control panoramic sunroof (for on-demand dimming) with the absolute pinnacle of what the world’s most valuable luxury car brand can muster. Only this isn’t a car: it’s an office, a champagne reception and a cinema, among other things. It just happens to have four wheels.

THE FACTS: MERCEDES-MAYBACH S600

PRICE: £165,700
0-62MPH: 5.0 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 274g/km
MPG COMBINED: 24.1mpg

THE VERDICT

DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★★
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★☆
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★☆☆

NOT CONVINCED? CHECK OUT THESE ALTERNATIVES

ROLLS-ROYCE GHOST

PRICE: £216,864
0-62MPH: 4.9 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 327g/km
MPG COMBINED: 20.8mpg

THE VERDICT

DESIGN: ★★★★★
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★★
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★☆
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★★☆

BENTLEY FLYING SPUR W12

PRICE: £153,300
0-62MPH: 4.6 secs
TOP SPEED: 199mph
CO2 G/KM: 343g/km
MPG COMBINED: 19mpg

THE VERDICT

DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★★
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★☆
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★★☆

BMW 760Li

PRICE: £102,015
0-62MPH: 4.6 secs
TOP SPEED: 155mph
CO2 G/KM: 314g/km
MPG COMBINED: 21.7mpg

THE VERDICT

DESIGN: ★★★★☆
PERFORMANCE: ★★★★★
PRACTICALITY: ★★★★★
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★★☆

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