When the first sentence of a press release points out that a vehicle is “particularly suitable for chauffeured driving,” then you instantly know that the car in question isn’t meant for the great unwashed. Say hello then to the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, a millionaire’s mansion on wheels that can massage your butt while your butler drives you past the envious glances of less wealthy onlookers.
Since Mercedes-Benz decided to ditch the separate Maybach brand and simply stick the name onto a pimped-up S-Class in 2015, more than 60,000 examples of this super saloon have been delivered to customers around the world. China alone is responsible for 600 to 700 units per month in the last two years, according to Mercedes. With there still being a need for ultra-luxury in the world, the Germans were obviously just too happy to update their flagship limo, and it has lost none of its ostentatiousness.
With a Maybach, it’s all about the inside. Sure, the two-tone paint finish that can take up to a week to apply looks stunning, and the 19-, 20- or 21-inch wheels that were specially designed and are solely reserved for this model make it look imposing, but all that doesn’t matter when you think about who this car is meant for. Titans of industry, world-famous celebrities and mega-rich moguls are the types of people you will find lounging in the back of one of these, and this kind of clientele is demanding. Very demanding. So much so that Mercedes gave them an endless array of new features and functions to drool over.
For starters, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class has an 18cm-longer wheelbase than the long standard S-Class. That translates to 1.2m of effective legroom in the rear—enough for even the leggiest supermodel. Whoever gets to sit down at the front can play with ambience lighting that has 254 LEDs, drink ice-cold champagne from a built-in fridge, open and close the doors at the push of a button, and even enjoy a thorough massage (including a new calf-massaging function that is said to stimulate blood circulation, presumably for when you had too much champagne and can’t get out of the car anymore).
The ultra-comforting features continue with adaptive rear light that lets you choose between lounge-feeling or office-reading light, an energizing function that combines the massaging seats with the Burmester high-end 4D surround-sound system for bass tones that you can feel, and even hand-gesture controls for rear passengers. To facilitate the latter, engineers have fitted 3D laser cameras in the roof liner that can tell what a passenger wants to do. Reaching for the seatbelt? The car will extend it toward you. Looking to switch on the light? Just wave your hand near it and…voila! This car accommodates opulent laziness on a whole new level.
Passengers can drink ice-cold champagne from a built-in fridge and even enjoy a calf massage that is said to stimulate blood circulation
To make sure rough roads don’t disturb the soft slumber of its VIP cargo, the new Maybach comes with Airmatic air suspension and optional fully active E-Active Body Control, a system that scans the tarmac in front of the car with a stereo camera and adjusts the suspension according to the bumps in the road. A noise-canceling system similar to the one you find in headphones then ensures passengers aren’t disturbed by said bumps, while rear-wheel steering makes it easier to turn this luxury barge in city traffic.
Should it ever hit something that it can’t waltz over, then up to 18 airbags—including, for the first time, front airbags for the rear passengers—are there to keep everyone safe. More safety and driver-assistance systems than you can shake a stick at are also onboard, including conditionally automated driving and—where a parking garage has the right tech installed—fully automated valet parking.
One of the best features isn’t found inside, but instead sits within the headlight units of the car. The optional Digital Light feature is now available in all production S-Class models, and uses three extremely powerful LEDs in each headlamp that refract and direct light with the help of 1.3 million micro-mirrors. The result is a light that can not only illuminate the road selectively as to show you the way while not blinding oncoming cars or even pedestrians, but can also project marking aids or warning symbols onto the road in front of you.
Surprisingly, not everything is known yet when it comes to the powerplants. There will be a V12 and a V8, and apparently also a V6. Mild hybrid tech is also onboard, as is 9G-Tronic. Prices are estimated to start at €160,000 in Germany, and deliveries will start later next year so better get your butler to order you one right away.