2016 Mercedes Maybach S600 First Drive Review – Even though the 2016 Mercedes Maybach S600 is shorter than the old Maybach 57, and thus far more maneuverable, it offers more room in the rear passenger compartment. The launch event for the press was designed so we could spend ample time back there, since this is how many customers will experience the car. Both rear seats recline like business-class seats on an aircraft, and together with extending footrests, they make it easy to work, watch a movie, or simply fall asleep. Daimler claims it offers the quietest rear passenger compartment of any car in production. We believe it. However, we also think that Daimler needs to take a hard look at the rear-seat entertainment system, which is slow and fiddly.
Meet The (Sorta) New Boss
Rising from the ashes of hubris is the 2016 Mercedes Maybach S600, a recalibrated stab at high-end luxury with a startlingly similar, yet different, approach to its forbear. Like the last go, the new sled features a significantly longer wheelbase, which stretches 8.1 inches over the standard S600. Additional sound damping helps it claim the quietest rear cabin in all of production automobiledom, and posher trim bits include a rim of wood surrounding the reclining rear seats. Among the livery-focused special features is a rearview mirror-mounted microphone to amplify the driver’s voice, an available rear fridge, and an executive seat package with folding tray tables. The super high-end hallmarks are there – a twin-turbo V12 dispatching sub-5 second 0 to 60 times, a stunning 24 speaker Burmester sound system, double-M branded silver plate champagne flutes, et al. – but the hyperinflated price tag is not. Starting at $189,350, roughly half the cost of the old flagship, the new Maybach isn’t even the most expensive Mercedes-Benz you can buy. That distinction goes to the S65 AMG Coupe, which empties your coffers to the tune of $230,900. Rounding out the revitalized sub-brand is a forthcoming V8-powered Mercedes-Maybach S500, and a Head of State-ready, block-long Mercedes-Pullman 600.
Back Throne Driver
My first impressions of the 2016 Mercedes Maybach S600 come, naturally enough, from the rear seat. The plutocratic role playing, orchestrated by Daimler’s press department, involves a white-gloved driver, a ninety-minute cruise through the idyllic Santa Ynez Valley, and a demo disc showing off the rear multimedia screens. The 1,540-watt system is stellar, relaying thumpy lows and crisp highs via 24 speakers and 24 separate amplifier channels. But once the movie demo is done, the drive offers a chance to sample that most elusive quality every noise, vibration and harshness engineer aspires to: silence. The “world’s quietest car” claim stems from a number of reworked structural pieces, including underbody and wheel arch lining insulation that reduces high-frequency tire noise. The Mercedes-Maybach’s rear doors are actually shorter than a standard S-Class’, since the small triangular windows have been moved to the c-pillar and treated with special bonding and sealing for sound deadening. Air ducts around the rear deck and sealed seatbelt inertia reels also keep the thrum out. Though you can still perceive a touch of muted road noise if you listen hard enough, this S600 is dramatically well-insulated and quiet, making conversation, contemplation, or napping remarkably easy tasks.
The rear seats are comfy thrones, with pillowy Alcantara head cushions and a recline function that tilts the backrest to 43.5 degrees. Calf support is available via an extending lower section, though taking advantage of the 12.8 inches of knee room – which is nearly double that of the standard S600’s 6.5 inch figure –requires moving the front seat forward via the door-mounted seat controls. As you might expect, it’s hard to find fault in the Mercedes-Maybach’s rear cabin; the quilted leather surfaces are supple, the wood swaths are discreet but opulent, and virtually every detail is pleasantly executed, from the leather headliner to the alloy tray table, whose flat leather top surface makes it feel fancier than the First Class cabin of a Lufthansa 747-8.
Besides the aforementioned champagne flutes, Maybach-exclusive interior features include bespoke wood trim inspired by the S-class coupe as well as hand-stitched leather on the door panels. A full-length center console with deployable work tables is optional. For all this, though, Daimler could do more to differentiate the Maybach from the regular S600. The car was rushed to market on a tight schedule, and it would benefit from a few more Maybach-specific features.
While 2003- to 2011-era Maybachs took a heavy-handed approach with their Japanese-like exterior styling and vertical expanses of wood and suede inside, the new edition is pleasant, understated, tony – and quick. The proportions have shrunk. The new car is nearly 11 inches shorter than old Maybach 57 and almost 30 fewer inches than the Maybach 62 – and although it’s smaller, the accommodations are still spacious enough for seriously chichi lounging. Another pleasant upside to the passage of time is that the cost of techy options have dropped dramatically; not only do the standard safety and convenience items blow the older Maybach out of the water, things like the electrotransparent (a.k.a. Magic Sky Control) roof which once cost $15,500 now only adds $2,500 to the MSRP.
In contrast to its antecedent, the new 2016 Mercedes Maybach S600 slashes the price of entry in half and makes the stretched, ultraposh sedan a relative bargain at $189,350. The lesson most vividly driven home by the 2016 edition of Mercedes-Benz’s über sub-brand Maybach, which rides on the coattails of the S-Class which has already sold 100,000 units since its first year? This isn’t just the golden age of horsepower, luxury, and technology; it’s a new era in which that triumvirate is more accessible than ever.