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2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader January 2015

The 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 is 18 ft long, weighs about 5,000 lbs and starts at $190,275, but the little details are more important than the big numbers. For example, if the interior is beige, buttons in the door panels will also be beige; the same goes for other cabin colors. Other cars have chromed exterior window trim, but the Maybach has brushed aluminum, another example of how the car balances elegance with understatement.

Mercedes-Benz has been creating subbrands. Sporty offerings come under the Mercedes-AMG umbrella, while this ultraluxury brand resurrects the Maybach badge. It's based on the current S-Class before rolling into Rolls-Royce territory. In short, it's expensive to produce and looks classy.

To further illustrate this point, most of the interior is hand-built. There has been intense labor in the contrasting stitching in the predominantly leather-swathed cabin. Even the ends of the dashboard, only visible when the front doors are open, are capped in leather, exemplifying the complete work that went into this vehicle. With this car, everything has to be right. And it is.

Back to Front

This is one of those cars where the buyer can spend serious money and never drive it, but they will enjoy sitting in the back. Another 7.9 inches are added to the length of the S-Class, all to benefit the rear passengers. Although the Maybach's C-pillar is wider than the regular sedan, the rear quarters don't feel claustrophobic.

The rear doors are 2.6 inches shorter. This cuts vibration and contributes to what Mercedes calls "the world's quietest production limousine" from the perspective of the back seats. Entry and exit is unaffected. All the doors, along with the hood and trunk lid, are made of aluminum to keep weight in check.

The Maybach comes as a 5-seater, but most customers will probably opt for the pair of deeply reclining (with extendable calf support), massaging, heating and ventilating rear thrones, which means space in between for a chilled champagne compartment with a pair of silver-plated flutes held in place by magnets. Folding tables provide a surface for tubs of caviar (not included) or the chance to get out the laptop (also not included) and do some work.

The front passenger seat moves forward by tapping color-coordinated buttons to provide maximum legroom for back-seat passengers. Both rear occupants' screens control their individual entertainment requirements. If the car comes with the high-end Burmester audio system (which has clarity and power that most recording studios would envy), they'll have some glorious wireless headphones, too. One thing about the audio system: There's a microphone by the rearview mirror, so when occupants in the front speak to those in the back, their voices go through the speakers, rather than having to crick their necks to converse.

This multitude of touches reminds the owner that their money is relatively well-spent. For example, a 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost (based on a BMW 7 Series) starts at $263,200, which makes the Maybach look like a bargain.

Observations from the Driver's Seat

When this generation of S-Class launched a couple of years ago, Mercedes called it "the best car in the world." That was no idle boast. The amount of technology put toward maximum comfort, convenience and safety is breathtaking: sunroofs that dim with the touch of a button, sensors that read a road surface and adjust the suspension in nanoseconds to make speed humps appear nonexistent, intelligent cruise control with autonomous braking and electronic steering assistance to name a few. Add lofty build quality, composed handling and authoritative power, and there's no doubt that the Maybach has an excellent foundation.

When the twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 hums its subdued tune of 530 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque, the car doesn't seem so big. After the chauffeur has delivered his passengers, he can take the interesting way home and enjoy surprising agility and pace, or he can relish the fact that many assistance systems are helping him do his job. Since the car is also a place of work for the driver, it's good to know that the front seats are also superbly comfortable, yet supportive. And everyone in the car benefits from the fragranced air ionizer.

The 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 will be available in April (price includes destination) with an all-wheel-drive version is coming in June.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600: First Drive Review - Autotrader