Your pampered executive posterior may seem implausibly distant from that of your chauffeur, but an electronic version of the speaking trumpet means you shouldn’t need to raise your voice while issuing directions to pull over for a sandwich at the next services. Just as well, because if you’re sitting in the back of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class – the new range-topper in Merc’s luxury saloon line-up – you’ll surely be the type who exudes power quietly.
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Being unveiled (simultaneously) at the LA and Guangzhou Auto Shows, the Mercedes-Maybach offers much more than 20cm stretch between the wheels of an LWB S-Class. The company reckons the new look exterior ‘combines stylish, effortless superiority with trend-setting exclusivity’ which ‘makes modern luxury come alive in an exceptional way’. This magical realisation is brought about by – perhaps counter-intuitively – shortening the rear door (from the ‘unstretched’ S600 LWB, we think) by 66mm, and relocating the triangular rear side-window into the rear pillar. Maybach ‘M’s adorn the door pillars, just where they’ll be photographed during those red-carpet arrival moments.
The interior offers all the luxury you’ve come to expect, and probably a little more, with Maybach badges embossed into the leather (I’m sure they’ll do your wife’s initials if you prefer), lots of woodwork, an exclusive fragrance to permeate the air from climate control system – presumably for when your bored of sniffing the nappa leather – and a couple of optional Champagne flutes.
Interestingly, Mercedes seems to have reined-in its aspiration for Maybach to take on the established luxury brands. ‘The high quality standards of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class are evident from the doors, which even have handstitched door trim as part of the standard equipment’, runs the official launch blurb, which also mentions ‘sensuously curved, fine-wood trim with a handcrafted feel’.
Neither of these boasts would much trouble the bespoke finishers at the Rolls-Royce factory over the road from the GRR office, you might well think, and here’s why: ‘The target group consists of successful businesspeople that will mainly use the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class in a professional context with a chauffeur.’ says M-B. ‘The majority of customers are from China, Russia and the USA, where high importance is attached to status symbols. Strictly speaking, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class has no direct competitors because it is positioned above the existing S-Class segment but below the segment for ultra-luxury vehicles.’
To that end, expect a price range starting from around £155K, which isn’t that far removed from the list price of Bentley’s Flying Spur, but it would be a spartan-looking Spur that left the factory without 50 grand’s worth of ‘bespoke’ extras.
It remains to be seen how Mercedes will begin to use the Maybach badge across other models in its range. It also remains to be seen how Mercedes will ultimately target the ultra luxury segment, if not with Maybach? Recent media reports appear to have ruled out long-standing speculation that M-B wants a larger piece of Aston Martin, which would be one way to achieve it.