I recently had a chance to drive a Mercedes-Maybach S600, which is a full-size luxury sedan that is better than your car. There’s no arguing this point, unless you happen to have a Rolls-Royce Phantom, or maybe a Bentley Mulsanne. The Maybach S600 is one of the finest luxury cars on the road, and it’s a truly wonderful experience whether you’re sitting behind the wheel or sitting in the back seat, relaxing and sipping on whatever you choose to store in your refrigerator.
Yes, your refrigerator. There’s a refrigerator. Of course there is. There’s also a lot of other stuff, and I’ve covered much of it in the video above. Here, I’m going to cover more of the driving experience, which is divine, as you might expect, given that the price tag of this vehicle is around $200,000 before options, which, naturally are plentiful.
I had the chance to drive this Mercedes-Maybach S600 courtesy of Dutton Garage in Melbourne, Australia, which is full of all sorts of special cars. But before I get into the drive itself, a little background on the Maybach. As you know, Maybach was "re-launched" in the mid-2000s, itself a re-launch of a luxury car brand from the early 20th century. In the mid-2000s, Maybach made its own vehicles — luxury sedans called the Type 57 and Type 62, based on their length — but their dull styling and arrival just before the global economic recession ensured the brand’s failure. Rather than completely give up, though, Mercedes-Benz kept the Maybach name around for use on luxury versions of its other cars.
And, thus, we have the Mercedes-Maybach S600. This is essentially a high-end version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which is already a high-end vehicle. They added a bunch of stuff, heightened the quality of the interior and called it a Maybach. The one I drove, from before the sedan’s recent facelift, used a 521-horsepower turbocharged V12, and it boasts serious acceleration (0-to-60 in 4.7 seconds) and serious size, as it’s 215 inches long and it weighs 5,300 pounds.
Of course, much of that 5,300 pounds goes to making you, the occupant, feel especially comfortable, and that’s precisely what this car does. My primary takeaway from my Maybach S600 driving experience was that this car absolutely eliminates the outside world, much in the same way as a nice Rolls-Royce or Bentley: You can no longer hear what’s going on outside, and you no longer care what’s going on outside. You’re sitting in a beautiful cocoon of leather and wood and stitching, and the suspension is so delightfully soft and compliant that you barely feel any bumps or pavement undulations. It really is perfect.
The rest of the driving experience follows suit. Steering is incredibly light, and handling is dulled by the light steering and the car’s massive curb weight. But then, that’s to be expected, and most of the people who drive this car won’t really care, anyway: It’s a big car to be driven for comfort, rather than for any sort of performance, and this is clear the moment you head toward a curve and waft around it, gliding, tilted a bit due to the soft suspension and the body roll. Still, you don’t really notice these things, because you’re sitting there, with your cooled seat keeping you at precisely the perfect temperature, staring at your beautiful cabin.
And, oh, is it beautiful. The Maybach S600 is undoubtedly a step up from the S-Class, with truly gorgeous accents and touches and finishes and, well, pretty much everything on every surface. The wood on the steering wheel was silver. Silver, folks. This car has silver wood. And it has gorgeous diamond stitching on the dashboard and quilted leather on the seats, and it just goes on and on.
The problem, of course, is the same problem we all had with the initial Maybach S-Class, namely that it looks too much like an S-Class. In fact, this car really is just an S-Class, but with some upgrades on the inside and outside. The big benefit is that this time, it’s not priced so far ahead of the S-Class that no one will ever buy one: The base-level S560 Maybach — with a V8 — starts at around $170,000, compared to around $100,000 for a base-level S560 sedan. That’s a fairly reasonable number for one of the most luxurious cars in the world — and if you’re the kind of person who’s considering one of these, you probably won’t give the money much thought as you sit there, in your beautiful seat, while your car wafts you to work with your chauffeur behind the wheel.
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.