What's New for 2006
For 2006, a new Maybach 57 S style debuts. The S has a more powerful engine, larger wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and special interior and exterior appointments. All 2006 Maybach models come standard with the Parking Assist System, which had previously been an extra-cost option. There's also a newly available Business Package, which can essentially turn a Maybach into an executive office on wheels.
BMW owns the Rolls-Royce name, and Volkswagen has the Bentley name. Evidently, DaimlerBenz (or more properly, DaimlerChrysler) was unwilling to sit idly by as its competitors invested in brand names dripping in history and prestige, and then had their pick of an elite class of buyers. Thus, the German conglomerate resurrected the Maybach name for the 2004 model year. Originally, this was the name of one of the first automotive engineers, the chief designer in fact, of the first car that bore a Mercedes badge in 1901. Later Maybach referred to a line of custom-built luxury cars on sale during the 1920s and 1930s.
Today, Maybach emerges from historical oblivion (as far as most Americans know) to become a luxury automobile division that resides far above Mercedes-Benz in price and prestige. Two different versions of the Maybach are offered: the 57 and the 62. The numbers refer to the car's length in meters (5.7 and 6.2). Compared to the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Maybach 57 is a bit shorter in overall length and wheelbase. Inside, opulence takes center stage. Every single surface is high-grade leather, wood, chrome or some other soft-touch material. Comfy as it is to sit up front, the best place to sit in a Maybach 57 is the backseat. It's a twin-bucket arrangement with a console in between that houses a DVD player, a separate CD changer for use in the back and even a refrigerated compartment to keep cold refreshments at the ready. Each rear seat offers a wide range of adjustments. A soft Nubuck-upholstered (and feather stuffed) pillow is attached to the front of each head restraint, and leaning back upon it is sure to relax even the most uptight passenger.
With a base price that well surpasses the $300,000 mark, it's pretty obvious that the Maybach 57 and 57 S are intended for people with extraordinary wealth. Maybachs are sold through select Mercedes dealerships only, and there aren't any cars sitting around on the lot, either. Each Maybach is built to order. The 57's most obvious competitor is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. In situations like these, personal taste and preferences are much more important than feature lists or hard stats; each car is fully capable of providing an otherworldly luxury experience. If we had to choose, though, we'd likely go with the Phantom for its panache and superior heritage.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Maybach 57 is a large ultraluxury sedan. Two versions, the base 57 and the sport-oriented 57 S, are available. As one might expect for such a vehicle, the list of features is very thorough. An Airmatic DC suspension; adaptive cruise control; 19-inch wheels; power-closing doors from the detent position; a 21-speaker, surround-sound Bose audio system; and a rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens are just a few of the luxury-oriented items that are standard. Among the many optional features are special wheels, power-closing doors from the fully open position, three-person rear seating, upgraded entertainment choices and a new Business Package that equips the 57 and 57 S with wireless Internet capability and Bluetooth functionality for computer hardware. In addition to these features, customers have the opportunity to select custom exterior paint colors and interior trims and make requests for additional features not include on the factory options list. The 57 S has its own unique interior and exterior appointments, 20-inch wheels and a sport-tuned version of the Airmatic suspension.
Powertrains and Performance
The Maybach 57's 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 shares its design and components with that of the Mercedes-Benz S600. Since the Maybach has more than 1,400 pounds on the Benz, engineers increased the boost on both turbochargers to get a little more power out of the V12. Output is rated at 543 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The 57 S has a 6.0-liter version of the V12 (as used in Mercedes' S65 AMG), and it's capable of 604 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard for both engines. According to Maybach, the 57 S can hit 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and reach a top speed of 172 mph.
A gamut of safety features is standard for the Maybach 57 and 57 S. Included are seat-mounted side and headliner-mounted curtain airbags for all outboard passengers, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. As in some Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the antilock brakes are electronically controlled rather than by a conventional mechanical linkage. If the driver switches quickly from accelerator to brake pedal, the electronic brake system recognizes the early signs of an emergency situation and pre-loads the brakes to help ensure shorter stops. In addition, if the windshield wipers have been on for a set amount of time, the system applies quick, undetectable pulses to remove any film of water from the brake discs so that brake operation remains fast and consistent in the rain.
Interior Design and Special Features
Fine-quality leather and wood cover most every surface in the 57, and seat comfort is exceptional whether you're driving or riding. Rear passengers enjoy adjustable seating, and even the head restraints are covered by suede-textured down pillows, a substance Maybach claims is the best vibration-damping material in the world. The instrumentation and controls will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in a Mercedes. Alas, this also means that some controls and displays are confusing, among these the Mercedes-sourced COMAND navigation system.
Ride quality in the 57 is smooth, and the only thing that detracts from the experience is the sheer size of the car. The Airmatic DC suspension system provides for continual adjustment to the air spring and shock absorber rates for the benefit of ride comfort and handling stability. When negotiating city traffic, the car feels manageable but somewhat disconnected from the road. If you're used to the agility of a 7 Series or S-Class, you might find the Maybach needlessly cumbersome in these situations. Out on the open road, the 57 proves surprisingly nimble; taken around a sweeping turn, it feels stable, secure and almost entertaining. The 57 S is similar but provides slightly better acceleration and stability through corners.