Mercedes-Maybach S-Class review

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Maybach is the nameplate used on ultimate Mercedes models. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Ten Second Review

The second generation Mercedes-Maybach S-Class leverages the prestige of the Maybach badge in this super-luxury S-Class variant. Customers get long wheelbase space in the back, some of the greatest rear seats ever to grace a passenger car, a whisper quiet ride and the choice of all-wheel drive V8 or V12 twin-turbo powerplants.

Background

Having abandoned its Maybach nameplate as a stand-alone franchise in the noughties, Mercedes revived it once again in 2014, but this time as a Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand, supposed to designate the ultimate versions of its two largest models, the S-Class and the GLS SUV. The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class was based on the sixth generation 'W222'-series S-Class design and was replaced in 2021 by the replacement 'W223'-series model we look at here.

Lower key it might be than rival Bentley Flying Spur and Rolls-Royce Ghost rivals but it's beautifully executed. It's also remains something of a toe in the water for Mercedes. Should customers take to this super-luxury version of the S-Class saloon, there could well be Maybach versions of the E and CLS lines. Don't for one moment think that Mercedes has the equivalent of a Ford Ghia badge here. The Maybach S-Class isn't just a normal long-wheelbase S-Class that's had an enthusiastic run at the options list. This one is something very special indeed.

Driving Experience

Power comes courtesy of the most appropriate engines on offer from the current S-Class portfolio, namely the 503hp 4.0-litre V8 and the 612hp 6.0-litre V12. Both record similar sprints to 62mph and 155mph top ends (4.8s and 4.5s respectively) but the difference between the feel of the two powerplants will mean that there will be some quite willing to stump up for the twelve-cylinder unit, despite is huge price premium. Unlike the previous generation model, the V12 is paired to Mercedes' usual 9G-TRONIC 9-speed auto gearbox, just like the V8. And, as before, there's massive torque generated by the twelve-cylinder unit; some 900Nm at just 2,000rpm.

Both powerplants drive all four wheels via the Mercedes 4MATIC system - the previous generation car was only a rear-driven V12. One advantage of stretching to Mercedes-Maybach spec for your S-Class is that it'll get you two key engineering features that can't (currently) be had (even as an option) on an ordinary S-Class. Namely, 'E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL', which counteracts body lean through the bends and uses 'SURFACE SCAN' camera technology to prepare the AIRMATIC suspension for bumps before you reach them. And Rear-axle steering, which dramatically reduces this car's turning circle; think around 10.9-metres for the V8 model, much like a little A-Class hatch. With an ordinary long wheelbase S-Class, it's 12.8-metres. The V12 Mercedes-Maybach model uses a slightly different Rear-axle system with its larger 21-inch wheels, but even there, the turning circle is a relatively tight 11.9-metres.

Design and Build

The Maybach version of this S-Class makes quite a statement. You get a much grander slatted silver grille and silver corner cut-outs just below it. There's silver glasshouse framing and bespoke forged 20 and 21-inch wheels. And of course you can only have this top variant with the lengthier long wheelbase body shape. Which more extrovert top executives can decorate with a two-tone paint finish that others will find rather garish.

You choose this car though, for its rear seat experience, which includes more things you can't get on an ordinary S-Class. Like the MBUX High-End Rear Seat Entertainment system with its twin 11.6-inch screens, one on each front seat backrest, linked into a TV tuner. Another unique fixture is a 31-speaker 1,750-watt Burmester high-end 4D surround sound system, which adds an extra dimension to the audio experience by incorporating vibrating exciters into each seat, along with ear level front seat speakers. There's also electrically-opening rear doors and a Rear Seat Comfort package that reclines the backrest and massages you.

The steering wheel rim's finished in wood and leather, the roof's trimmed in suede-like DINAMICA and the floor mats are of the Rolls-Royce-like 'High pile' variety that you just sink your feet into. In addition, there's Maybach Exclusive nappa leather upholstery with the same colour options as for the S-Class, plus one extra shade - silver grey/black. And the cabin inlays are in designo black piano lacquer trim with flowing lines, though you can swap those out for brown burr walnut inlays - or trimming in black poplar wood.

Market and Model

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class pricing from launch started from around £163,000, which got you the S580 4MATIC standard version. But high fliers are probably going to want to stretch up to the top 'First Class' version with its individual rear seats. 'First Class' Maybach motoring comes in 4.0-litre V8 S580 4MATIC form for around £177,000 or in 6.0-litre V12 S680 4MATIC form for just under £205,000. To give you some segment perspective, a Bentley Flying Spur costs around £170,000 and a Rolls-Royce Ghost around £250,000.

We mentioned in our 'Driving' section that the standard kit list includes innovations like 'E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL' and Rear-axle steering. And we covered off a lot of the cabin features in our 'Design' section. True VIPs can further upgrade their Mercedes-Maybach to top 'First Class' status, recognisable by an upgrade in size for the forged MAYBACH wheels from 20 to 21-inches. The 'First Class' variant gives you separate luxury individual Executive rear seats separated by an extended centre console incorporating a fridge compartment and champagne flutes. Folding tables retract out of the wood-trimmed designo front seat backrests. There's also a nappa leather roof liner.

On a Mercedes-Maybach 'First Class' model, you can also spend another £28,000 on a 'MAYBACH Exclusive nappa leather design package', which trims the cabin in more unique design crystal white leather, complemented by silver grey pearl trim.

Cost of Ownership

We're not sure who buys a top-end limousine and devotes too much consideration to the fuel economy, but for what it's worth, the V8 version of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class will return a combined economy figure of 25.5mpg and a CO2 reading of 253g/km (or 265g/km in 'First Class' form). While opting for the V12 will see that figure drop to 19.8mpg and 325g/km. Saving the planet? Who needs it? At least the BiK rating is the same 37% as a normal S-Class: so is the group 50 insurance rating.

A bigger issue might well be residual value. The previous Maybach S-Class didn't fare too well in this regard, especially when it was compared to the Rolls-Royce Ghost, the car it was designed to beat.

What else? Well, there's a thirty year warranty against corrosion (yes, you heard that right). And we'll tell you that the comprehensive three year unlimited mileage warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer. Servicing, by the way, is needed every 12 months or every 15,500 miles, whichever comes first.

Summary

Where the last Maybach version of this model was a bit 'new money' for many, the second generation Mercedes-Maybach S-Class ramps up the desirability. We've already been utterly seduced by the 'W223'-series Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloon and taking that car and adding extra luxury won't spoil the appeal one iota. There's no shortage of people who want luxury but don't want to be ostentatious about the fact, and there doesn't look to be anything that touches the Maybach in that regard.

It's still early days yet, but we think Mercedes may have finally hit upon the right market positioning for Maybach. That said, it's fairly easy to pull off this trick with an S-Class plus twenty percent. Repeating the act on an E-Class or a CLS while still retaining the Maybach badge cachet is going to be altogether trickier.

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