Ever since the Maybach came out back in 2004, I’ve wanted to get inside one. This is because the Maybach is the ultimate Mercedes-Benz, and because they were selling them for close to $400,000, and I always wondered what kind of features a car could have that would justify that price tag. So, a few weeks ago, I found out. See the Maybach 57 models for sale near you
This opportunity came to me from Performance Auto Wholesalers, a luxury and exotic car dealership in Miami that’s got the Maybach above listed for sale for $79,995. That’s a lot of money in an absolute sense, but it’s peanuts relative to this car’s original price, which was something like $370,000 back in 2006; indeed, this Maybach has already lost $300,000 to depreciation, and it just keeps falling. I truly wonder if there’s a floor, or if it’s just going to keep going, like the S-Class, until you can buy one in a trade for last year’s iPhone and a few prepaid cell phone cards.
So, before I get started on this particular Maybach, let’s discuss the Maybach in general. Maybach was a luxury brand from decades past, and Mercedes-Benz revived it in 2004 with two models: the 57 and the 62, each named after how long they were (5.7 and 6.2 meters, respectively). The original intent was to take on the Rolls-Royce Phantom, but sales were poor, largely because the design didn’t differ enough from the S-Class — even though every single panel of the car was completely different. In an effort to increase sales, the 2006 model year brought the arrival of the "S" models — the 57S and the 62S — with the 604-horsepower twin-turbo V12 from the S65 AMG. That’s the one I drove. Eventually, and with little fanfare, the Maybach brand was shuttered after the 2012 model year, having really only made one product — though it was resurrected again recently as a top-end trim level on certain upscale Mercedes-Benz models.
So Maybach didn’t have the greatest run, and the used market hasn’t been kind to their cars. But I simply had to check out this thing and see it for myself. So what did I discover?
Well, for one thing, absolutely unending features and equipment. The car is just loaded with stuff. You want a door panel where you can put your wallet while you’re driving? The 57S has two. One is opened with a button. The rear doors have two, also. There are two glove boxes — one large and one small. The rear passengers get all the usual stuff — heated and cooled seats, power adjustment and a mirror to look at themselves — in addition to gauges that show what’s going on up front (speed) and outside (temperature). There’s a refrigerator in back. The windows are absurdly thick. The memory function has five settings, instead of the usual three. You’ll have to watch the video for everything, but it’s almost as if Mercedes-Benz simply threw every single feature at this car they could think of, and said: "There!" I loved it.
More interesting, of course, is the driving experience, and that’s where I’m sad to say the Maybach didn’t live up to expectations. Not in terms of performance: With the twin-turbo V12, this thing is monstrously fast; it does zero to 60 in something like 5 seconds, which is almost unnerving for a vehicle that weighs three tons (yes, three tons — 6,000 pounds). And it wasn’t a letdown in terms of comfort, either: The seat is comfortable; the steering is nice and light; the thick windows do a good job keeping out every possible noise.
No, the real disappointment comes when you simply compare this thing to an S-Class. It shares the same steering wheel, the same turn signal stalk, the same gauge cluster and many of the same buttons and switches. It’s better than the S-Class, sure, but you can see why they had trouble selling these a decade ago at $370,000. It’s not $270,000 better. And the appearance certainly doesn’t look $270,000 better, either, which makes me wonder exactly what kind of discounts dealers were giving in order to get Maybach models off their lots back in 2006, or during the recession in 2008, or when the thing was nearly a decade old in 2012. In fact, I’m kind of surprised there aren’t new Maybach models still sitting on dealer lots, waiting for a buyer, with prices discounted to $200,000 or less.
With that said, at $79,995, this car has started to become appealing. As it gets cheaper, it’ll become even more appealing. After all, it’s now considerably cheaper than a brand-new S-Class — and while it’s currently priced like a nice E-Class, there are earlier used examples listed on Autotrader that are even cheaper than that. Think $50,000 to $60,000 for what was ultimately the last word in luxury just a decade ago.
Of course, maintaining one of these beasts is a whole different story from purchasing it — and I think that, coupled with the fact that the styling isn’t quite cool enough to justify the cost of ownership, is what’s keeping people away. But if you do buy a Maybach, at least you’ll have a place in the door to put your wallet. And another place. And 600 hp. Find a Maybach 57 for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.