First drive: 2015 Mercedes-Maybach S600 in the UAE
What would you buy for a million Dirhams? A McLaren 650S? A Bentley Continental GT? Two Porsche 911s? Fourteen Toyota Yaris TRDs? The truth is, assuming you’re not the spoilt son of a business tycoon, you’ll be middle-aged by the time you become a business tycoon yourself. By that time, you’re too busy for supercars and prefer to be chauffeured around so you can get some work done. That’s exactly why the 2015 Mercedes-Maybach seems to have been created.
Maybach started life as a carmaker in 1909 before pettering out during World War II and the brand being bought by Mercedes-Benz in 1960. In 2002, Mercedes-Benz resurrected Maybach as a separate ultra-luxury brand that sat above the S-Class, but it never really caught on as a rival to Bentley and Rolls-Royce, considering it looked too much like the S-Class it was based on. Maybach festered virtually unchanged for a decade before being killed off in 2013. Now it’s back for 2015…as a trim level for the S-Class.
Essentially an extra-long wheelbase version of the recently-revised S-Class, the Mercedes-Maybach we drive is in S 600 form. Which means it’s powered by a massive twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 making 523 hp and 830 Nm of torque. With that many cylinders, we actually expected more power, but then again, it’s plenty powerful for what is supposed to be a limousine rather than a sports sedan, apparently capable of 0-100 kph in 5 seconds flat and a limited top speed of 250 kph.
It’s either awesome or awful to drive, depending on what you prefer from your driving machine.
It’s awesome in its smooth delivery of surging power, its class-leading quietness, and its “Magic Body Control” system that scans the road ahead for bumps and adjusts the suspension to drive over them as smoothly as possible.
It’s awful because the lifeless steering, accelerator and brake pedal all behave in a lazy, mushy manner although as we understand it, that’s completely intentional so that the big boss in the back seat gets treated to a smooth ride, without any awkward jerks and jolts.
One thing’s for sure though — its handling limits are ridiculously good for such a huge car, with great grip and artificially-flattened body roll, although it will still jiggle like a boat every time you come to a complete hard stop. The ‘sport’ mode firms up its responses a bit without compromising on the comfort.
The most obvious thing the Maybach delivers is tons of space, much more so than the similarly-sized Bentley Mulsanne. The length and wheelbase have increased by 200 mm over the S-Class to benefit the rear passengers.
Standard features include a full panoramic sunroof, powered privacy shades for the rear windows, acres of leather trim, night-vision display in the LCD gauge-cluster, chrome-plated speaker grilles, fibre-optic ambient lighting, Burmester 3D surround sound, and back-lit tweeters on all the doors that spiral out on start-up, although these things can even be had in a standard S-Class, if you tick everything on the options list.
The lounge-worthy rear seats both offer a full range of power adjustability, and includes extending calf-supports, a massaging function, heated/cooled cup-holders and a seat heating/cooling feature, while the right-side rear seat gets an additional footrest that can be motored out of the front passenger seatback for sleeping. It’s so intricate that the dual LCD screens on the front seat-backs automatically adjust their angles as the front seats are adjusted, so the rear passengers always get the best view. The massage and multimedia features are controlled with a remote, with animated settings showing on the screens.
Further options include flip-out tray-tables and a fridge that comes with a pair of silver-plated champagne flute-glasses as well as space for three chilled bottles. Conspicuously, the glasses were missing in our tester, and there was no alcohol either.
Yet, for all its opulence, there is a sense of fragility to the fittings, with several little trim bits and various little motorised parts. The huge boot is also drastically cut down in size by the haphazard-looking fridge installation, so we’d recommend skipping that option.
Still, the Mercedes-Maybach accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, offering the best luxury money can buy. While imposing in its own right, it does not have nearly as much presence as its much pricier British rivals, but it certainly outclasses them in terms of sheer technology. Just be sure you’re driven in one, and not seen driving it. Just imagine the scene as you roll up to a hotel valet.
For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Mercedes-Maybach buyer guide.