If you've been lamenting last year's passing of the Maybach 57 and Maybach 62, the ultimate in luxury cars from Mercedes-Benz, you are certainly not alone. And that's despite those cars carrying prices out of reach of even the most well-heeled of buyers. At $350,000 and (way, way) up, they were rare birds indeed. And now, they're gone.
In LA, Mercedes-Benz is launching a new Maybach, but rather than a bespoke model, it's a more obvious evolution of an existing one: the already-quite-luxurious S-Class. It's the Mercedes-Maybach S600, and while some may perceive it to be little more than an options package, Mercedes would like for you to think of it as a sub-brand, one "offering peerless exclusivity."
Semantics can be debated, the presence of the thing cannot. It's a substantial 8.1-inches longer than the already-imposing S-Class, but despite that the rear door is actually shorter than that on the long-wheelbase S-Class. Much of that length, then, is added to the far more weighty C-pillar, which now sports a triangular window through which Sir can watch the world go by whilst Geeves takes care of the driving duties.
Indeed, this is the sort of car that you'd expect to come with a driver, thus much of the attention has been placed on the back seats. And they are incredible, feeling much like what you might find up front of a modern trans-Atlantic airliner, with a leg-rest that pivots out, powered shades that cover the windows and a small desk rises from the center console. Or, if work isn't on your mind, you can instead deploy the Maybach-branded champagne glasses, which also tuck in between the seats. And, for those really relaxing trips, the front-passenger seat folds down, allowing whoever's lucky enough to be in the back-right to properly stretch out.
The leather is faultless, frequently quilted, and covers virtually every surface you can touch, even extending up through the door openings. In places you'd expect to find synthetic surfaces, here you instead find more animal hide. The premium look and feel is comprehensive.
Also premium: The twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 under the hood and its 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque. Helping keep that power in check is a raft of safety systems, including lane-keep assistance and a raft of automatic braking assists.
The Mercedes-Maybach S600 is to be available in the spring of 2015. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect it to start somewhere around the $200,000 mark in the US (which, for comparison, converts to about £127,300 or AU$232,000 at current exchange rates). That's hugely expensive, but compared to the previous entrants in the series, and indeed the range of S-Class variants, it's actually something of a bargain. More money to spend on that driver, then.