2017 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S 600 Reviews
Cars.com Expert Reviews
The 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 is a smooth, expensive, technology-packed road-roaming private jet that's best experienced from the best seat in the house — the backseat.
Versus the competition
The BMW 760Li features a V-12 engine and long-wheelbase comfort but doesn't have the prestige or technology the Maybach does. The Bentley Flying Spur features as much or more prestige than the Maybach S600 but doesn't have that car's spaciousness. And nothing in the Rolls-Royce showroom competes directly with the Maybach.
Editor's note: This review of the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 was written in November 2016, but little has changed for 2017. To see what's new, click here, or to see a side-by-side comparison, click here.
Mercedes-Benz's first experiment with the Maybach brand was less than a success. With only 3,000 cars sold in its 1997-2013 revival, Mercedes' attempt to offer up a Rolls-Royce and Bentley competitor ended unceremoniously flat. Now the automaker is trying again but setting its sights a little lower: The new Mercedes-Maybach brand aims to be the ultimate Mercedes — nicer than the nicest S-Class and better able to compete with "entry-level" ultra-luxury cars like the Bentley Flying Spur.
The Maybach S600 is the first of what will be several new Mercedes-Maybach models. Featuring a stretched S-Class sedan body, a V-12 engine and some unique interior options, it hopes to snag buyers as interested in being driven as driving themselves. It will certainly sell well in luxury-crazed, nouveau-riche Chinese markets, but will American luxury buyers find its amenities worth the higher price tag?
Exterior & Styling
At first glance, the Maybach S600 looks like any other S-Class — long, sleek and more formal than some of Mercedes' other offerings. But then you notice it's longer than it should be; that's the 16.6-inch increase in overall length versus the base S600, most of which found its way to the backseat.
One wouldn't think such a minor revision would turn so many heads, but it does. Maybe it's the oversized wheels, or the chrome trim around the doors, or just that it's a big, black sedan, but the Maybach certainly gets noticed by passers-by.
How It Drives
This review is going to be a little different from other vehicle reviews, as the purpose of this car really isn't to drive it — it's to be driven in it. As such, suffice it to say that the Maybach S600 drives like a big Benz sedan. It's extremely smooth, in everything from power delivery to steering response and ride quality. Power comes from the big daddy of German luxury motors: Mercedes' twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter V-12 engine. It delivers that power like a swift-running stream — just a constant flow of output that you tap into whenever you're thirsty for some.
With 523 horsepower and 612 pounds-feet of torque, the confidence that comes from having one of the most powerful engines on the market at your beck and call really does give you remarkable peace of mind. Power is channeled through a seven-speed automatic transmission and out to the rear wheels; all-wheel drive is not an option.
You never lose sight of the fact that this car is made to be a limousine, meant to shuttle dignitaries, executives and just plain rich folk over longer distances. Even on the car's sportiest setting, it's still whisper-quiet, effortlessly quick and extremely coddling.
The Maybach S600 includes Mercedes' Airmatic suspension with Magic Body Control as standard equipment. The feature uses a suite of cameras and sensors to scan the roadway ahead and can change the car's suspension stiffness almost instantly to react to a pothole or bump the car is about to hit, effectively eliminating it from passengers' notice. You can even drive the car over bumps and speed tables at a reasonable speed and the car just remains flat and level, so as not to disturb its well-heeled occupants.
The experience is similar to that of driving the much more expensive Rolls-Royce Ghost, but is decidedly more isolated than driving a Bentley Flying Spur. The Bentley is more involved with its driver, providing more feedback both audibly and through seat-of-the-pants road feel.
It might seem silly to discuss fuel economy in a car this big, equipped with an engine literally three times the size of one in a Ford Focus, but given these cars are likely to do duty as executive transports over longer distances, it's worth mentioning. And the Maybach S600 isn't actually that bad; its EPA rating is 13/20/15 mpg city/highway/combined. My week of testing involved a 1,200-mile highway road trip from Ann Arbor, Mich., to St. Louis, and the Maybach easily achieved 20 mpg on the highway.
The Bentley Flying Spur is a bit smaller than the Maybach and has an optional V-8. If you opt for that engine, you'll get 14/24/17 mpg. Stick with the V-12, and those numbers drop to 12/20/15 mpg.
Up front, the Maybach S600 doesn't seem all that different from a normal S600, or even an S550. Acres of soft, supple leather, supremely comfortable seats, a surprisingly minimal amount of tastefully applied real wood trim, real metal accents — it all adds up to one of the best automotive interiors in the business.
The array of passenger comfort options is staggering. The massaging heated and cooled seats have dynamic support that changes the seat shape as you go around corners. Special settings on the climate control system waft breezes to cool down the car instead of blowing air directly on you, like some kind of cheap, plebian air-conditioning system.
But the real story is what happens in the backseat. The Maybach offers a special Executive Rear Seat Package Plus that allows the rear seats to almost fully recline. The passenger-side rear seat can even combine with the front seat (after some rearranging of head restraints and a few minutes of moving seats around via the door-mounted controls) to create a longer, chaise-lounge-like surface upon which to relax. Tray tables in the rear center console can telescope out to allow you to do some work on a laptop, and an optional silver champagne flute set with a three-bottle wine chiller can be specified. The rear cupholders even feature a special locking mechanism to keep the handmade flutes from tipping over as your driver negotiates bends or brakes suddenly for errant pedestrians. Whether or not you can legally drink champagne from these flutes while the vehicle is in motion depends on your local open-container laws, I imagine.
Riding in the back of the Maybach is an exceptional experience. It is absolutely serene, thanks to seats that feel infinitely adjustable, legroom that goes on for days and the fridge that keeps your beverages cold. All of it adds up to what feels like your own road-going private jet. There's even a function that uses a microphone and the car's audio system to amplify what the driver is saying by broadcasting his or her voice over the rear speakers when all the windows are closed, thus ensuring the hushed environment need never be disturbed by raised voices.
The Flying Spur is neither as comfortable nor as sophisticated as the Maybach. It's almost cramped in back, due to a distinct lack of headroom and its shorter wheelbase. The Bentley Mulsanne is almost a better match for the Maybach, but its considerably higher price puts it out of contention in this group.
Ergonomics & Electronics
Like all Mercedes-Benz S-Class models, the Maybach S600 is a technological tour de force. It's almost unbelievable what the car can do. It has automated systems that help with steering and braking on the highway, plus three passenger-entertainment screens with independent controls, so each passenger can watch something different without disturbing the driver. And the list goes on and on.
The only problem is trying to learn how to operate the various systems using the vehicle controls, including two remote controls that operate the multimedia system for each of the three passengers. There's definitely a learning curve involved, and there's little in the way of printed reference material. The owner's manual is electronic, searchable through the car's multimedia system.
This is the area where the Maybach soundly beats all comers, as neither the Rolls nor the Bentley can match the sheer level of electronic wizardry present in the Maybach. Mercedes calls the S-Class one of the most advanced cars on the planet, and it's right.
Cargo & Storage
In such a massive car, you'd expect a massive trunk, right? Not so much. The Maybach already has a rather diminutive storage area, only 12.3 cubic feet, and that room is further compromised by the wine chiller, which had to be mounted somewhere and ended up taking a big chunk out of the trunk. It's possible to pack for a long weekend for two, but fitting a large suitcase in the trunk (or even a few golf clubs) will be a challenge. Not that the Bentley Flying Spur is much better, featuring only 16.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Neither the Bentley nor the Maybach have a backseat that folds down to increase storage room, either.
Mercedes says the new S-Class may be the safest vehicle on the planet. It hasn't been crash-tested by either the U.S. government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but the sheer number of electronic safety systems in the car is encouraging. It has automatic systems for both highway and urban driving that help avoid accidents with vehicles, pedestrians and animals. It brakes autonomously if it detects an obstacle in the car's path, and it can identify a pedestrian on a darkened road and flash its LED headlights at just the person — not all oncoming traffic — to let them know the Maybach is approaching.
A night-vision camera presents a display in the all-electronic gauge cluster that identifies pedestrians and animals with different-colored brackets. Learning to use it all takes a little doing, but in the end it all works flawlessly. See all the Maybach S600's standard and optional safety equipment here.
Value in Its Class
There aren't many options on the Maybach S600, but there really doesn't need to be, as the "base" car comes pretty much loaded. It starts at $191,975, including destination and a gas-guzzler tax, which represents a hefty $20,300 premium over a regular Mercedes-Benz S600 but is $33,050 less than a sportier S65 AMG sedan. Special paint can add as much as $3,950, and the Magic Sky Control darkening-LCD moonroof is another $4,950 option. The Executive Rear Seat Package Plus with tray tables in back is $1,950, and those handmade silver champagne flutes are — get ready for this — $3,200. My test car featured additional items, like 20-inch forged wheels and a special designo brown interior, for a grand total of $203,635.
There really aren't many direct competitors to the Maybach S600. The BMW 760Li features a V-12 engine and long-wheelbase comfort but doesn't have the prestige or technology the Maybach does. It's also considerably less expensive; it's meant to go up against the normal S600, starting as it does at $143,895.
The Bentley Flying Spur is the S600's closest competitor, starting at $228,025 in V-12 form ($206,725 for the V-8). While it features as much or more prestige than the Maybach S600, it doesn't have that car's spaciousness; the wheelbase on the Maybach is a full foot longer than the Flying Spur's. Nothing in the Rolls-Royce showroom competes directly with the Maybach, as even the least-expensive short-wheelbase Ghost is nearly $100,000 more than a base Maybach. You can compare these four ultraluxury models here.