This is the Maybach 57S Xenatec Coupe. Swabian coachbuilder Xenatec is converting the Maybach 57 limousine into the opulent Maybach 57S Xenatec Coupe – of which it plans to sell 200 units at £595,000 each, plus tax.
Xenatec Coupes can be serviced at Maybach dealers, and Xenatec matches Maybach's standard warranty. The Xenatec is therefore the closest you can get to an official two-door Maybach. Financial suicide? We've had an early drive in the bespoke behemoth to find out. Read on for our first drive review of the Maybach 57S Xenatec Coupe.
Maybach 57S Xenatec Coupe: Maybach's salvation?
Maybach is a dying breed. Its initial sales target was to sell 1500 cars a year, yet in 2009 its 1998 S-class-based limos barely attracted 200 customers, even with mighty Daimler backing the effort. Yet Maybach would be even worse off without its best customer, who is neither a Middle Eastern monarch nor a West-Coast rapper, but a company by the name of Xenatec.
Xenatec took over a small German manaufacturer, previously owned by Krupp-Deutz, which specialised in long-wheelbase conversions, prototypes for the motor industry and armour-plated one-offs. And now the Swabian coachbuilder is converting Maybach 57 limos into Xenatec Coupes.
If the Xenatec Coupe takes off, Xenatec’s owners will be rubbing their hands with glee: its wholesale rebate on a new Maybach should be in the area of 40-50% off the £270-£310k RRP. Even though there is some serious cutting and welding involved in the conversion that follows, the Coupe’s £715k pricetag should still yield a juicy profit.
Maybach 57S Xenatec Coupe: the design story
Visual strong points of the Fredrik Burchhardt-designed Coupe include a very elegant arc-shaped roofline, bespoke greenhouse, new doors and rear side panels, special wheels and made-to-measure bumpers. Xenatec’s manufacturing expertise is ever-present: the cutlines are hair-thin, the greenhouse a flush-fitting masterpiece, and the new windows don't distort in the slightest.
Inside, the most significant change concerns new front seats with integrated safety belts and adjustable rear buckets instead of the first class lounge chairs, while you’re surrounded by dark leather, thick-pile cut-to-size carpets and glossy piano black inserts. Most of the trimmings are of course courtesy of Maybach, not Xenatac.
Dislikes? The LED daytime running lights are about as subtle as those on an older Indy pace car, the massive rear chrome undertray would suit a crossover better than a coupe, and the electronics are fairly archaic: the dot-matrix instruments and pale yellow Comand multi-media interface graphics both date back to an era when Mr Clinton first expressed an interest in Ms Lewinsky. There is of course nothing Xenatec can do about these Maybach-based idiosyncrasies.
Sounds vulgar yet oddly appealing. How does the Xenatec Coupe drive?
Since the car bearing chassis numer 001 was not road-registered, our driving impressions were restricted to an empty parking structure, and this merely amplified the fact that, if the Xenatec looks big, it drives bigger: turning circle 13.4-metres, length 5.73-metres, width on par with an HGV and the structural solidity of Fort Knox.
Yet despite a kerbweight of over 2.7 tonnes, we immediately set a new speed record from the entrance gate to the top level. With ESP deactivated and the angry V12 engine held in second gear, the black chain-smoker stormed up the spiral ramp in mind-boggling time.
We have never before done sideways cornering shots in a parking structure, but in the Xenatec one dab at the throttle is enough to produce half a donut. As long as you turn in early and step on the gas early, even this freight train of a coupe will duly swing round and screech past the apex. To sign the virginal light-grey bitumen with black rubber dust, you don't even have to hold the car on the brake while giving the engine stick. With 630bhp on tap and 738 lb ft scalping Pirelli's finest, the five-star hooligan licence is yours.
Xenatec started producing two cars per month, but the plan for 2011 calls for ten units. As soon as the first batch of 60 pre-ordered vehicles are paid for, the coachwork specialists will place another order for 60 to 80 cars. By the end of 2012, Xenatec hope to have shifted every last one of the 200 XXXXL coupes it plans to make. Good luck, we say.
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