What’s this – more power for the plutocrats?
In a word, yes. The £341,585 Maybach 62S – the S stands for Special, should you be wondering – gets the same mighty 6.0-litre twin turbo V12 as last year’s 52S, which dishes up a barely believable 612bhp at a very low 4800rpm. The torque figure is even more impressive – between 2000-4000rpm there’s a massive 738lb ft on tap. As well as the bonus 74lb ft and 45bhp, your extra £81,085 pays for bigger 19-inch alloys shod with Michelin run-flats, revised front and rear aprons, a raft of minor style changes, a solid paintjob (no more eye-watering two-toners at last) and some mightily impressive chunky exhausts pipes.
Just what the world needs – a sporty limousine
Yes, it hardly makes sense, does it? You get the feeling that Mercedes is thinking of anything and everything it can to boost Maybach’s could-do-better sales figures. When it was launched in 2002 there was rash talk of 1000 sales a year – a long way off the average annual figure of 400 the company is currently achieving. Particularly when Rolls-Royce is shifting around 800 Phantoms a year.
Safe to say that’s its pretty quick then?
Blistering, but you’d never guess it: it’s so refined. That blown V12 simply picks up the 2855kg 62S and rockets it down the road as if it weighed less than a tissue box. Full throttle runs are like watching a top-fuel drag runs with volume turned off – the Maybach flies headlong into its electronically limited 155mph top speed with sheer disdain. Say what you will about the Maybach’s uncomfortable proportions and gauche styling, but it’s still the quickest and most luxurious way of compressing countries bar a Cessna Citation X.
Is the Maybach any good to drive?
The steering is fingertip light and there’s a delay between inputs and changes in direction that can be measured on a sundial, but it’s very easy to grow accustomed to its immense size, and punt it along at hugely entertaining velocities. And the brakes have no problems pulling you back safely to sane speeds. The forces they must deal with beggars belief. The low-pro Michelins haven’t interfered with the 62S’s waft factor, but you now feel and hear smaller intrusions that make the big car’s urban ride quality feel slightly more brittle than expected. It feels for the most part like an oil-tanker on fast forward.
So where’s the best seat, in the back or the front?
In the back, without a doubt. With its perfectly modulated climate control, unbelievably comfortable and supportive heated, ventilated and massaging aeroplane-style chairs and endless audio-visual features, the rear cabin is for true sybarites. Everything is beautifully made and electrically powered, so there’s no need to lift more than one finger at a time. There’s nothing out there that can match the Maybach’s rear-seat comfort, but there’s one incredibly annoying problem – those rear curtains may be good news for arms dealers and third-world dictators, but when retracted they entirely obscure your side view, forcing you to crane your neck forward two feet to see out the window. And it’s also rather galling that for all that money – the same money that will put an extended wheelbase Phantom and a long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ Sovereign in your garage – you still get much of the same switchgear found in any old common-or-garden Mercedes Benz.
It’s all looking good for Maybach until you talk intangibles. For all its pampering excellence, its mechanical integrity and phenomenal build quality, there’ s something distinctly cold and characterless about the 62S. It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but the 62S feels strangely soulless – incredibly competent and unfeasible quick – but undesirable nonetheless. There’s no denying the Maybach 62S makes a formidable fast-moving showcase of Mercedes’ technical and engineering excellence, but at this price you’d expect that – and more.