Its last attempt at a Rolls-Royce rival was a commercial flop, but at the 2014 LA motor show today Mercedes proved it was ready for another go, resurrecting the Maybach brand for a second time with a luxury-laden S-class limo.
Priced at around £30-40k more than the current range-topping long-wheelbase S600, the circa £170k Mercedes-Maybach S-class gets a further 200mm of metal between the wheels and has, Mercedes design chief Gordon Wagener claims, the quietest rear cabin of any production car in the world.
Apart from the extra wheelbase, the Maybach S-class will come with unique reclining rear seats, leather covering almost every single surface bar the floor and the glass, and offer endless scope for personalisation.
Compared with the last Maybach, which lasted from 2002 to 2011, the new car is consciously less gauche. At the front, a Maybach badge sits atop a grille featuring paired bars, but in no way shouts that this is anything other than a regular S-class. The big changes are at the rear, where the sheet metal has undergone changes to provide occupants with maximum privacy. An extra window is squeezed into the C-pillar, which also brandishes the Maybach badge, and rear passengers sit cocooned behind the shut line of the rear door.
Maybach S-classes: a whole range?
Other markets, including cubic-capacity-sensitive China, will get S500 and even S400 Versions, but only the S600 Maybach will be available in the UK.
Powered by a 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12 driving the rear wheels - there’s no 4Matic option - the Maybach 600 should reach 62mph in less than 5sec.
With its gargantuan 3365mm wheelbase, the new Maybach stretches to 5453mm long in total.
How many Maybachs will they sell here?
Not many. Merc expects to sell around 150 cars each year in the UK, compared with 3000 examples of the S-class, the world’s most successful luxury car. You can order one through any Mercedes dealer, but only a handful of showrooms, or Mercedes Centres of Excellence, will be able to give you the fuller red carpet treatment.
For all its opulence, the Maybach won’t be Benz’s poshest S. That honour befalls next year’s S600 Pullman behemoth, the car that has African dictators rubbing their hands in anticipation, while an S-class cabrio is waiting in the wings.
So far, bosses will only talk about Maybach versions of the S-class, but don’t be surprised if the name finds its way onto lesser Mercs. A-class Maybach anyone? After the success of the A45 AMG, that might not be such a crazy idea. The near £40k hot hatch helped boost AMG’s sales from 32,000 in 2013 to an expected 40,000-plus by the end of this year.
Click here for more from the 2014 Los Angeles auto show.