I have been a proud Mercedes owner since 2001. My first Mercedes, a charcoal black E-Class, brought me infinite joy and boundless pride as a new owner. In the last 17 years, I have bought 8 new Mercs for myself, my family and for colleagues in my company. My current wheels are an S-500 Mercedes. The underlying theme of every Mercedes purchased by me, over the years, has been ‘performance-power-pride’. Which is why when I was recently invited by Mercedes-Benz to their Chakan plant near Pune to experience and test-ride the new Mercedes-Maybach, I accepted the invitation without demur.
The new Mercedes-Maybach is a very very special version of the top-of-the-line S-Class. In fact, an S-600. A longer, taller, more spacious and more elegant version of the long-wheelbase S-Class … a full 207mm longer at the wheelbase, no less. The car carries two prestigious badges, that of Mercedes and of Maybach. In fact the ‘double-M’ Maybach logo on the C-pillar of the car imbues it with a stamp of class, super-luxury and understated elegance.
The recently introduced Mercedes-Maybach is much different from my current Mercedes S-500. The new front grille is decidedly much more up-market. And authoritative. Which gives the car a certain gravitas. The rear seat occupants have far far more space, comfortably getting to hide behind the extended ‘C-pillar’. The rear quarter glass and glass house is designed to look more luxurious with liberal chroming, overall giving the car both more room and more stretching space. In the interiors of the new Mercedes-Maybach you are welcomed by an ample feeling of spaciousness and an architecture that simultaneously serves as a multifunctional working environment and exclusive lounge. Whether you need a folding desk for your computer or champagne flutes to toast a celebration, in the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, your every wish is fulfilled with aplomb.
There is more muscle under the hood too. My current vehicle has a twin-turbo V-8. The new Mercedes-Maybach puts out a mammoth sledgehammer-like punch of a twin-turbo V-12, giving the ‘double-M’ a huge 523bhp in power.
Maybach’s history is a special chapter in global automotive history. It is a chapter on stylish mobility. It is also a chapter on how to create a brand that is exquisite by definition, and by design. Maybach’s vehicles have always adorned the summit of the art of automotive engineering. Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH rolled out its first luxury car in 1921. In the 20s and 30s of the last century, vehicles made by Maybach were the most handsome, largest and most valuable luxury cars in the world. They were also absolutely state-of-the-art in terms of their engineering. Numerous heads of state adorned themselves with this marque badge, which manufactured a grand total of 1800 units between 1921 and 1941. The Maybach is today the preferred wheels of corporate captains who fight shy of the more opulent and in-the-face Bentley or Rolls Royce.
What I liked most about the new Mercedes-Maybach were the small little things that enhance luxury and make for greater comfort. To me, in the test-ride that I took, the air-conditioning felt better, in fact much much better than my current Mercedes S-500. There were heated and massaging seats for all passengers. There was an air-refresh-system that pumped scented, ionized air around the cabin. I liked the music system too, a 1540-watt Burmester 3D surround sound system with 24 speakers. But what appealed most to me as a potential owner was the fact that the two individual rear seats can be reclined to 43 degrees, due to the longer wheelbase. I was told that a refrigerated compartment could be fitted in behind the central elbow rest, should I so want. But, back to the seats. The passenger seats are really comfy and large. Even my extra-large frame settled in very very comfortably into seats that easily compete with most first-class airline seats in width and Nappa-leather luxury. The seats were sumptuous, and the overall feel was opulent. Very very relaxing and a boon to the backbone. The extra legroom in the car really makes you feel you are actually inside a private plane, not just a car. And then there are features like the huge sunroof. And a moonroof with photo chromatic glass. The Mercedes test-driver pointed out to me that the Mercedes-Maybach has ‘beltbags’, inflatable seat belt airbags available for the first time in India. To say the least, I loved the new Maybach.
As a back seat driver, I sometimes feel that I lose out on the driving experience. But the Mercedes-Maybach, even from the comfort of the passenger seat, gives you a smooth-as-silk VFFRRROOOOOM experience which gets you just so-happy. It is the feeling of real power. But power delivered gently, power delivered without noise, and power delivered without much effort. This 2.3 tonne car does 0-100 in five seconds. You can hear a sporty growl past 400rpm in the test-drive. Beyond that there is not even the hint of a buzz as you cruise along.
Will I buy the new Mercedes-Maybach S-600? Yes, I will. At Rs. 2.6 crore it is expensive. It is at least a crore-plus more than what I paid for my S-500. But I think the new Maybach is more than a few generations ahead of the earlier versions on luxury and fitments. It could have been more economical to buy, but I think that government duties have a lot to do with the excessively fat price tag.
While at Mercedes Pune, I also had the good fortune to test-drive their GLE SUV. The 9G-TRONIC is the world’s first 9-speed automatic transmission with hydrodynamic torque converter in the premium segment. A monster that handles better than a butter knife. The 10-minute test-drive at crazy cliff-hanging angles at the off-road Mercedes test-patch got my old heart racing with new joy. But the GLE story needs a dedicated piece another day. Soon.
The day spent at Mercedes Pune was well worth my time, and the effort of navigating through crazy traffic on the expressway. The Maybach is a dream car. A trifle expensive. But what the hell, as they say, you live only once!
(Sandeep Goyal is not your usual car-blogger. He knows and understands luxury. And he understands full well what makes a great car.)