From the well-heeled salons in Europe to the glitzy world of hip-hop elite, the name Maybach in the automotive world is synonymous with ultra-luxury and status.
In the early 21st century, Maybach was a standalone brand—and if you owned one you were likely driven in it, not driving it. Now a sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz (DAI.DE) for the highest-end editions of its cars, you might think the latest version of it in S-Class trim—the 2018 Mercedes-Maybach S560—also requires a chauffeur. But you would be wrong.
The new S-Class
Let’s start of with the fundamentals of this car. The 2018 Mercedes S-Class range is not only updated with new looks inside and out, but also has lots of changes under the hood. And lots of new tech.
Using what Mercedes calls Generation 4.5 driver-assistance technology, this package includes adaptive cruise control that can handle some steering and autonomous lane changes, including stop-and-start while in cruise control. The car is basically aware of its surroundings using an array of radar and ultrasonic sensors, which means it can also keep track of other cars, road signs, and lane markings to keep in its lane.
Of course all these advanced safety and autonomous features are included in the top-dog of the range the Maybach S560.
Under the hood
The Maybach S560 is powered by 4.0L biturbo V8, pumping out 463hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, which is more powerful than its predecessor but matching the power in the regular S560. The turbos in the engine are unique, matching the turbo layout of its F1 race car engines by housing the twin-scroll turbos inside the the ‘V’ of the engine, causing a shorter path to pumping compressed air back into the cylinders, meaning virtually no turbo lag. The 4.0L engine is paired with a new 9-speed transmission. Our tester here was also the 4Matic, or all-wheel drive version.
Inside the cabin, you feel like you are flying first class on Emirates or Etihad Airlines. It’s fitted with fine wood veneers, leather—quilted and with French stitching—almost everywhere, vivid ambient lighting and even an automotive room scent (think aromatherapy in your car).
I guess I’d describe the interior experience as something out of a Grey Poupon commercial. Was it overkill? You could argue that, but I’m guessing that’s what Mercedes is going for here.
As a passenger, the experience was refined, elegant, and above all, luxurious. The massaging seats were top notch, especially when paired with the system’s programs, which combine heat, massage, music and lighting to create a specific “treatment.” All the Maybach needs now is spa water and and a juicer you’re ready to relax after a hard day in the corporate boardroom. And let’s not forget the 13 speaker, 590-watt Burmester first-class sound system.
Now here’s the thing. Stepping into the driver’s seat and getting behind the wheel of the Maybach wasn’t like piloting a massive land yacht. Yes, this was an extended version of an S560, but in the sport setting this car delivered good pickup and a smooth driving experience. A very linear accelerator pedal contributed to the ease in driving the car. Steering was a little numb and seemed to feature a pronounced power steering assist, but this is what you would expect in a car like the S560 Maybach.
In the S-class, technology is king—and it was a knockout in the Maybach. Mercedes intelligent drive is powerful and easy to use. Cruise control easily followed the car in front, and lane keeping assist, or steer control as Mercedes calls it, kept the car where it needed to be in some tighter curves on the highway. There was one incident during a faster curve where it lost it a little bit, but there was a driver warning.
But the ability to have intelligent drive set in stop-and-go traffic is a gamechanger for commuters. Mercedes’ implementation of if in the Maybach S560 is top-notch; it will only defeat itself if your in a stopped position on a road for an extended period of time.
The Mercedes-Maybach S560 is a fine car, and with a base price of $168,600 ($180,545 as tested), you should expect nothing but the best here. I hesitate to say whether this car is worth it. But for those with the money and the inclination, I’m guessing it is for them.
But again, what really impressed me is that the S560 Maybach, and likely the regular S560, is actually an enjoyable car to drive. So to those buyers who plan on having a chauffeur, may I suggest giving him or her a break every now and then, and driving for yourself? It might be a refreshing change of pace.