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This story first appeared in the Oct. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Take the flagship Mercedes-Benz S600 sedan, stretch it the added length of a Dom Perignon bottle and stuff it with creature comforts from a Lufthansa first-class cabin — and you have the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600.
You might remember Maybach, the greed-is-good marque that Mercedes owner Daimler revived with much fanfare in 2002 and quietly shuttered in 2012 after the immense, $300,000-plus Maybach 57 — with its Rolls-Royce pricing and pretentions — never caught on with the target demo. A scant 3,000 Maybachs were sold, one of them to producer Joel Silver.
2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600. Backseat luxury includes: First-class airline-style seats with hot-stone massage, dual video monitors, tray tables, a hidden refrigerator and two silver champagne flutes.
After that uncharacteristic miscue, Mercedes last year announced that it would revive the Maybach by rebranding — and mega-upgrading — standard Benzes with super luxurious amenities. The relaunched Maybach shares the superb mechanical underpinnings of the class-leading S600 sedan, the world’s most technologically advanced car, while adding exclusive indulgences — including sterling silver Robbe & Berking champagne flutes for the backseat. (Early adopters include Floyd Mayweather Jr., Nicki Minaj, hip-hop artist Meek Mill and U.K. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.)
The Maybach S600 is priced at a still celestial $189,350, half that of the retired Maybach, but dollar for inflated dollar, it’s a better car. Better looking: The S600’s thoroughbred lines stretched over 18 feet give the Maybach a gorgeous gravitas, whereas its predecessor always seemed Gekko-gauche. Better engineered: The new Maybach gets MB’s 523-hp 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12, good for zero-to-60 in five seconds and a 155 mph top speed. Better tech: Forward-looking stereoscopic cameras scan the pavement for potential hazards that the car’s computers analyze to adjust suspension on the fly. Unique to the Maybach is a Mercedes grill modded to look even more majestic, and 20-inch aluminum wheels that could double as banquet platters.
Ever since BMW and Volkswagen gained corporate control of, respectively, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and rebooted both with state-of-the-art drivetrains and tech, it is no longer acceptable for ultrapremium luxury sedans to drive like, well, the Rollers and Bentleys of yore. The surprise of the Maybach is that this immense car comports itself as if it were several feet shorter and thousands of pounds lighter. Whether sailing up the 101 freeway or slaloming through the switchbacks of Mulholland Drive, the big Mercedes does exactly as it is told with a minimum of drama, except to occasionally remind you it is working hard for that nearly $200,000 price tag — from the active seat bolsters that deploy unobtrusively to keep you centered in hard cornering, to the gentle kick of the steering wheel when you drift out of your lane, to the uncanny way the active suspension seems to flatten L.A.’s ubiquitous speed bumps.
would be enraged” says friend Merrill Markoe, as Simon’s estate sits at the center of a bizarre fight surrounding his beloved-yet-volatile pooch Columbo and the trust that’s stopped paying for his care and hasn’t kept the money flowing to the animal-rights organizations to whom Simon had dedicated his life (and fortune): “He would never cut off funds to his own f—ing dog!””]
Mercedes expects to sell most of its Maybachs in China, where being chauffered is still compulsory among certain socioeconomic classes. So as much as the Maybach is a driver’s car, it is even more emphatically about pampering rear-seat passengers. The two airline-style seats, in quilted Nappa leather, sprout leg rests when reclined. (The starboard seat reclines nearly flat for sleeping.) A refrigerator (and the flutes) are accessed through a console, with remotes to control the two video monitors and 24-speaker Burmester sound system. Mercedes claims the rear cabin of the Maybach is the world’s quietest, thanks to extensive sound-deadening in the car’s frame and special seals around doors and windows.
The Maybach somehow manages to stay just this side of ostentatious, quite a trick for a car with hot-stone massaging seats. Complaints? The massive V-12 automatically shuts down when the car halts — helping make possible the not-terrible 13/20 mpg — but lags when you hit the gas. The COMAND infotainment system is balky and counterintutive. Still, feature for feature, the rebooted Maybach might just be the best value in the $200,000-and-up insane-luxury segment.
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