Maybach 57 & 62 (2002 to date) review

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introduction

Few cars are a specialised as a Maybach, a fact reflected by the rather modest sales figures this much-trumpeted luxury division of Mercedes has racked up. A typical Maybach owner will want peerless luxury but without the ostentation of something like a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. The ability to cross country quickly, comfortably and discreetly is important to some and for that task there is nothing better than a Maybach. Here's what to look for when buying used.

Models

Models Covered: 57 and 62 4dr saloons - 2002 to date - [5.5-litre petrol (base, S)]

History

The trend for digging up old car marques and buying instant heritage isn't solely a British phenomenon. Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH was originally founded way back in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and was a subsidiary of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin. Producing engines for Zeppelin balloons and, latterly the Panther and Tiger tanks of World War II, Maybach moved into producing rather grand passenger cars before the war intervened. Fast forward to 1997 and Maybach was back. The Tokyo Motorshow saw the unveiling of a car dubbed the Mercedes-Benz Maybach. Public reaction to this car that looked set to campaign above the S-Class in the product hierarchy appeared favourable but rather than market the car as a Mercedes, the decision as made by senior executives to launch Maybach as a brand in its own right. The first production cars were sold in early 2002. Two models were offered, the 57 and the 62, both powered same twin turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 engine, good for no less than 543bhp. The model designations referred to the wheelbase in inches. In 2005 the Maybach 57S was unveiled. Sporting a more powerful 604bhp motor and more focused suspension, this model arrived in dealers in February 2006, followed in December of that year by the 62S. If you need to escape the paparazzi without breaking sweat, this is your ride.

What You Get

One thing the Maybach could never be accused of is lithe beauty. Perhaps one of the requirements is for sheer road presence, but the acres of chrome festooned around the car's grille are uncomfortably reminiscent of the Hyundai XG. Parked next to a Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Maybach's closest approximation of a rival, the German car looks a little more mainstream, less of an event and more an exercise in technical pragmatism. There's no doubt if you're a true captain of industry who needs to be whisked from point A to point B which you'd choose to travel in though. The Maybach, especially in long wheelbase 62 guise, is leagues ahead of anything else in terms of rear seat sophistication. Light has been used as a design tool with various uplighters and LEDs providing comfortable ambient light at all times. Maybach 62 owners can even specify a Panoramic glass roof with a sliding liner that contains an electro-luminescent membrane that provides pleasant diffuse light. It's vastly spacious back there, with the slinky aircraft-style seats capable of reclining into a semi recumbent position for maximum comfort. These fully adjustable, heated and cooled seats are a work of genius and highlight the key difference between the 57 and the 62. The former is for driving and the latter is for being driven in. Take the wheel of a Maybach and you'll be greeted with more than a few cabin features familiar to Mercedes S-class drivers. From a practical standpoint, this is no bad thing as the S-class is a paragon of ergonomic efficiency, but one can't help but feel that the subterfuge could have been a little more artfully executed. At idle, the V12 engine is utterly silent. Even if you get out, walk to the front of the car and stand inches from the front grille, there's no audible signal. Press your ear to the bonnet and you'll hear a muted hum. Unless that is, your passenger selects this moment to test the Maybach's horn which, you'll be sure to agree, is quite an article. On the move, the Maybach is again almost eerily silent. You appreciate the finer tonal qualities of the 600-watt surround sound audio system, the only mechanical noise being the occasional distant thud of surface irregularities as the air sprung suspension tries its best to cushion the ride. It goes without saying that the Maybach is supplied replete with a vast welter of safety features, although Daimler Chrysler also offered a 'guard version' with factory authorised armouring process.

What You Pay

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What to Look For

Absolutely nothing should be wrong with a used Maybach, as it should have been attended to regardless of cost. If it looks anything other than brand new, choose another car.

Replacement Parts

(Based on a 2004 62) Consumables for the Maybach 62 are reasonably priced with an air filter weighing in at £24, a fuel filter the best part of £60 and an oil filter a mere £6. Spark plugs are around £5 each, although tyres are expensive at around £295 per corner.

On the Road

The 57 and 62 cars are powered by the same twin turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 engine, good for no less than 543bhp with a torque figure of 899Nm. This monstrous power output will propel 2780kg of Maybach 62 to 60mph in 5.4 seconds. The S models get a 6.0-litre version of the same engine with 612bhp and a nice round 1,000Nm torque rating. Everything about the Maybach, from the 62's 6165mm length to its 19-inch wheels, is writ large. It's worth putting a few of the statistics into perspective. The torque figure on the 57 is greater than the combined torque outputs of a Mercedes S500 and a Porsche Carrera 4S. The Maybach 62 is as heavy as two Mercedes C class saloons and the difference in price between the two versions is about the same as a nicely specified Lexus GS430.

Overall

A Maybach is a car that may not inspire love but generates enormous admiration. If you see a car as a tool to perform a task, few are as fit for purpose as a Maybach. We'd opt for the 57 given our tight streets and often cramped parking facilities but if the car is to be used in Europe for long distance work, a 62 would be the ticket.