First Tests

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 First Test

Wilhelm Retouren: Maybach Is (Mostly) Back

Wilhelm Retouren: Maybach Is (Mostly) Back

“How do you fit?” I asked my 6-foot-5-inch friend Drew. “Perfect,” came the response from the fully reclined rear passenger seat. The front seat was hunched and folded fully forward to afford “Too Tall,” as his wife and I call him, the maximum amount of space Daimler’s new 18-foot limo would allow. Drew and I were both grinning like idiots because, well, $200,000 USD cars have that effect on mere mortals. At his advanced height, Drew has a hard time fitting anywhere, let alone a back seat. But it’s not really fair calling what Drew was laying down in a “back seat.” A Hyundai Accent has a back seat, as do any number of minivans, pickup trucks, and Jaguars. The Mercedes-Maybach S600, on the other hand, has something more akin to a bed crossed with a throne. I’ve heard others describe the rear accommodations as a first class airplane seat. But I ain’t never sat in something as leather-soaked or obscenely comfortable as what’s in the back of the Maybach. And I fly. A lot.

The notice was short, but I got Drew and our other friend Eric (6-foot-3 and big-boned) into the rear compartment of the new Maybach and chauffeured them straight to South Pasadena. I’d say they were perfectly comfortable, but I’m sure their smiles started bugging them after 15 minutes. Annoyingly, Mercedes decided to remove the leather, star-encrusted throw pillows and the silver champagne flutes from the S600 before the car showed up at our office. If it’s not bolted down … Drew and Eric were none the wiser until I pointed out that, yes, there was a refrigerator between their shoulders, but even if it weren’t empty, they’d have no stemware to drink from. Which is just like being in an Acura. Still, the rear seats have the pillow-topped headrests (just like a normal S-Class), which I maintain are the most comfortable anything ever placed inside a motor vehicle ever. Hot tip: Go to your local Mercedes dealer, climb in the back seat of an S-Class with the pillow headrests, and chill out for five minutes. Thank me later.

Our destination was the local brick-and-mortar cigar shop — Fair Oaks Cigars — where we indulged in some delicious sticks. Were we actively stereotyping the kind of people who certainly would ride around in the back of the new Maybach S600? I sure hope so. Just as I also hope that such a person has the good sense/taste to light up an Arturo Fuente Opus X Petit Lancero like I did. That particular Opus X could have used a few more years of aging — and I’m not sure I can legally discuss the cigars Eric and Drew smoked — but after 90 minutes the three of us were quite satisfied, and then re-sequestered inside the S600, tall guys in the back, short little old 5-foot-11-inch me driving up front. Where were my white gloves?

“Be careful — this is the only place in L.A. I’ve ever got a ticket,” Eric warned me as I sped down a street with — for our purposes — no name. I looked down, ignoring the bright and shiny head-up display in front of my eyes and instead Pavlovianly looking at the glowing digital speedometer. The S600 was going 60 mph. My intention was 45. That’s a 523-horsepower, 6.0-liter twin-turbo V-12 for you. Especially when the little S button is pressed, putting the transmission into Sport and also sharpening up the throttle. I actually don’t like how softly the throttle is tuned in Comfort mode, and I found myself driving the empty Maybach all over Los Angeles with the S button activated.

Like basically everything else about the Maybach S600, the performance numbers are ridiculous. Zero to 60 mph happens in a positively goofy 4.8 seconds. Remember, this is a 5,308-pound, rear-wheel-drive limo. Ridiculous. The big boy then gets through the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds at 110.9 mph, which coincidently is (probably) the takeoff speed of a Gulfstream jet. The only performance stat that doesn’t qualify as OMG is braking, which happens from 60 mph in 114 feet. Good, but not silly good. The S600’s figure-eight time, however, is silly good: 25.8 seconds with a max lateral acceleration figure of 0.90 g. Amazing for a car that weighs as much as a Ford F-150 and rides as if it has buttered foie gras stuffed in its dampers. Actually, it very well might!

Back to my friends and that S button. I like quick cars but probably need a few hundred hours of training as a chauffeur. Turns out that my precious passengers could feel the thrust of 612 lb-ft of torque and were bothered by it. My bad. To make up for my sins I treated my friends to the full fury of the Burmester 3-D surround audio system. I’m still not exactly sure who or what “the Burmester” — as the Germans are so fond of calling it — is, save for a great stereo. Have you lived until you’ve heard Electric Wizard’s epic third album, “Dopethrone,” at suburbia-disturbing volumes while gliding through California in a seemingly rocket-powered limousine? I’ll argue no. I also dazzled my friends with the usual S-Class tricks, like switching the ambient lighting color every 30 seconds and remotely raising and lowering their window blinds. Needless to say, Drew and Eric were both tickled by the new Maybach (even though they couldn’t find the massage controls because they’re buried in the remote controls, not the screens), and were either of them in the market for $200,000 USD cruisers, the S600 would be near the top of their respective lists. Near the top, as the two of them have accompanied me to Las Vegas aboard both a Bentley Flying Spur and a Rolls-Royce Phantom and as such are becoming total snobs.

Speaking of the Phantom, I do have a bone or two to pick with the new Maybach (save for those missing bubbly glasses). Mercedes is claiming that the S600 has “the quietest interior of any production sedan.” I have a feeling there’s some tricky Stuttgartian wordplay afoot because while the Maybach is a quiet car, it’s a full-on doom metal concert compared to the Rolls-Royce Phantom. I once had a mini panic attack on a freeway somewhere north of Monaco because I was riding in the back of a Phantom and the only thing I could hear was the sound of my own heart. At 90 mph! I’m guessing Mercedes is going to say that somehow, using some sort of tricky, cheaty metric, the very low-volume and more than twice as costly Phantom isn’t a “production sedan.” Automakers do things like this from time to time, like claiming the SL is the longest-running automotive nameplate (since 1952). Mention the Chevy Suburban (1933), and they respond that it’s not a car. This could be the difference between Maybach and Rolls. The former feels the need to brag about an almost ineffable stat. The latter is simply silent.

Since I’m trash talking, the S600 is a bit of a badge job. Granted, Mercedes did the important, expensive thing and stretched an S-Class. So, A+ for that. Getting on with it, aside from the badges on the C-pillars and name on the trunk, what about the Maybach is Maybach exactly? From the B-pillar forward it’s quite literally an S-Class. Those fancy F-hole speaker grilles? You can get them in an S-Class. The diamond-quilted Designo leather covering nearly every surface, as lovely as it may be? Seen it. In fact, there’s an S65 AMG Coupe currently parked in my driveway (review coming!) that has a much more finely crafted interior than this Maybach. My guess is that since this car’s aimed at China, the thinking is that the Chinese consumer will gobble the badges up, hook, line, and sinker. They probably will. But as a total car geek, I find it incongruous to see the three-pointed star schnoz badge and hood ornament and the crossed Ms on the sides. Could you get the front stars replaced with double M? Hopefully. Finally, as gauche as they were, I miss the speedometer and accompanying gauges in the rear like on the old, sales-proof Maybachs.

Am I nitpicking? Of course! No car is perfect, but flaws, however tiny, are flaws. That said, should you be wealthy and/or lucky enough to wind up in the back of the new Mercedes-Maybach S600, you’re gonna love it. Here’s hoping you’re tall enough to fully enjoy it.

Bonus

Some trivia for you: The not-available-in-the-U.S. short-wheelbase car (119.5 inches) is the W222. The long-wheelbase car (124.6 inches) that we know as the S550 is the V222. The Maybach and its stately 132.7-inch wheelbase is called the X222, and the upcoming super-long (and rumored to have six doors) Pullman is called the VV222.

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600
Base price $190,275*
Vehicle layout Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 4-door sedan
Engine 6.0L/523-hp/612-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Curb Weight (F/R DIST) 5,308 lb (51/49%)
Wheelbase 132.7 in
Length x Width x Height 214.6 x 74.8 x 58.7 in (MT est)
0-60 mph 4.8 sec
Quarter Mile 13.2 sec @ 110.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 114 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.90 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 25.8 sec @ 0.75 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy/comb 11/19/14 mpg (MT est)
Fuel Economy 306/177 kW-hrs/100 miles (MT est)
Energy Cons., city/hwy 1.43 lb/mile (MT est)
CO2 Wmissions Currently
*Excluding Gas Guzzler Tax

Want to see more of the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600? Take a closer look at the new Maybach in this gallery of automaker-provided photos.