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Test driving the Mercedes-Maybach S 600

With the resurrection of the Maybach brand, Mercedes aims to capture a greater portion of the super-luxury space. Is this more than an S-Class XL?

It’s amazing how much can be achieved with will, ability and focus. For Mercedes, it was a case of building something better than the best. The S-Class is the definitive Mercedes-Benz luxury car. It embodies all its values and almost always sets the benchmark for technology, safety and is the last word in luxury for many. Mercedes launched the S-Class almost two years ago and it was a huge success. They followed it up with the diesel V6. The best or nothing, said Herr Benz, and, they have delivered.

Touted by the company as the essence of luxury, the Maybach S 600 marks the re-launch of the super-luxury brand, founded by Wilhelm Maybach and his son. Daimler-Benz acquired the brand in 1960. However, the most notable cars were the 57 and 62 twins, which were based on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Sales commenced in 2002 and lasted for just over a decade, after which the brand became defunct.

The seats are inspired by business-class aeroplanes and recline as far as 43.5 degree. PICS/Sanjay Raikar
The seats are inspired by business-class aeroplanes and recline as far as 43.5 degree. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

Reincarnation it was for Maybach, this time as a super-luxury sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz, akin to high-performance sub-brand AMG. The base this time, too, was the S-Class, but a longer, more luxurious and most advanced version ever. Mercedes was clear about its programme this time, and the S-Class was created as a long-wheelbase model, with the shorter version derived from it. The Maybach S-Class runs a wheelbase exactly 200 millimetres more than the S-Class L. As a result, the length has gone up by 207 mm, and weight by 150 kg (over the S 600 L). This allows for more creature comforts, especially at the rear, where customers will be spending most of their time.


Dual glass roof set-up, Magic Sky Control, uses electro-chromic glass for operation

The exterior is akin to the S-Class, save for a few changes, notably to the front grille, which uses a three-slat version, embedded with the front camera which neatly conceals itself under the gloss black flap when not in use. The rear quarter panel is much smaller and the thick C-pillar holds the ‘MM’ emblem — ‘Maybach-Motorenbau’ then, ‘Mercedes-Maybach’ now.
The details get even greater on the inside. The cabin is a plush affair with only the best leather, immaculate stitching, wood accents and exceptional build quality. The twin-LCD information display, as in the S-Class, gives access to all vehicle system controls. The dual glass roof set-up, Magic Sky Control, uses electro-chromic glass for operation. A fresh and fragrant cabin is paramount and the cabin air-filter and specially-created AGARWOOD fragrance ensure that is well taken care of. The four-zone climate control, too, plays no small part in maintaining a pleasant ambience.

The rear seats, however, are what this car is all about. The seats are inspired by business-class aeroplanes and recline to as much as 43.5 degrees. Adjustable calf support, and — in the S 600 — standard Chauffeur Package allow the left rear passenger to control the front seat, taking it forward and unravelling a foot-rest at the bottom, too. The good news continues with the 2+2 seating making room for a flowing centre console that houses tray tables, a 12V port, heating/cooling glass-holders as well as a refrigerator. You can even specify champagne flutes. ‘V12’ badging also finds its place on the perforated and ventilated leather seats, below the incredibly soft and supportive head-rests.

The two large LCD monitors also offer rear-seat occupants a choice of heating, cooling and massage functions (there’s a hot stone massage as well) while being seated; using a remote control, of course. Then there’s another innovation. Safety is always among the top priorities and the new belt-bags are another innovation in this regard. Inflatable seat-belts at the rear help prevent injuries to the rib-cage in the event of a crash.

Mercedes-Benz says this is the world’s quietest cabin, a good space to get some thinking done or simply relax. Another element which provides aural bliss and, more importantly, motive force is the big V12 motor. Time to get in the front and see what this car can really do.

The old Maybach used the same motor M275 twin-turbo petrol V12 in 5,513-cc guise. This one, however, is a new version, now displacing 5,980 cc, and putting out 530 PS and 830 Nm. With a weight of 2.3 tonnes, it still has a power-to-weight ratio of 227 PS/tonne. What that does is allow 0-100 km/h in just over six seconds and a top speed, as always, limited to 250 km/h. More importantly, the V12 motor feels effortless at all speeds. The smart seven-speed 7G-Tronic+ usually keeps the motor turning over at just below 2,000 RPM, which is ideal for quick acceleration or overtaking, considering that the peak 830 Nm comes in at 1,900 RPM. The Maybach can sprint from 60 to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds. Making our way back in the dark meant we could also sample the adaptive LED headlamps. High-beam allows for visibility far beyond the regular call of duty, and even standard beams provide excellent lighting and visibility even at highway speeds.

With the features on offer and the craftsmanship going into its creation, the Maybach S 600's competition includes just two cars — the Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Both are priced significantly higher than the Maybach, which costs Rs 2.6 crore (ex-Pune).

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