What's New for 2011
The 2011 Maybach 57 S gets an extra 16 horsepower -- apparently, 604 hp just wasn't enough. The exterior has also been given a slight refresh, while the interior gets a new sterling-silver "Maybach Manufaktur" badge for the headrests of the seats plus some new upholstery stitching. Sadly, the special-edition 57 Zeppelin has been discontinued -- oh, the humanity.
If a Rolls-Royce is a motor car fit for a king, the 2011 Maybach 57 is an automobile fit for a German chancellor. The Rolls emphasizes presentation and classic British opulence, while the Maybach is all business, mixing a restrained German aesthetic with exquisite luxury and technology. The Maybach's lackluster sales success would indicate which of these approaches most high-end luxury buyers prefer, but it's this difference in character that's likely to ultimately determine which joins your multicar garage.
The Maybach 57 is one of three models sold from the ultra-luxury division of Mercedes-Benz -- the others being the long-wheelbase Maybach 62 and quasi-convertible Maybach Laundaulet. Though the Maybach name dates back to the 1920s, the current iteration was launched in 2002 when Mercedes-Benz jumped into the ultra-luxury sedan segment to keep pace with BMW and Volkswagen, which had gobbled up Britain's most storied automotive marques (Rolls and Bentley, respectively). The resulting car shares not only a passing resemblance to the styling of the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class but also its basic platform as well. As such, the 57 comes across as an über-Benz rather than a bespoke car like the Rolls and Bentley.
Of course, saying that a car is too much like a Mercedes-Benz is like saying your date looks too darn much like Scarlett Johansson. Although with the solid construction, fine craftsmanship and bulletproof engineering, the Maybach 57 features a choice of two twin-turbo V12 engines hand-built by a single technician at Mercedes AMG headquarters in Germany. The "base-model" 57 produces 543 hp, while the 57 S gets a bump up to 620 hp for 2011 (it previously produced 604 hp).
Of course, performance is one thing, but for super limousines like a Maybach, the interior is of paramount importance. While it doesn't have the sort of grand, old-world interior design of the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the 57 has the abundance of leather and wood you'd expect from a vehicle this expensive. Its backseat is where it really sets itself apart from the Rolls, with a pair of heated and reclining captain's chairs separated by a center console containing climate and entertainment controls. Oh, and it also has a miniature fridge perfect for chilling champagne -- though we're not sure how that jibes with open container laws. Perhaps it would be best to get the long-wheelbase 62 with the optional solid partition just in case.
When ordering a 57 at a Maybach "Commissioning Studio," customers can equip their car in literally any way they wish. If they want alpaca upholstery instead of regular old cow leather, the "Maybach Relationship Manager" can probably make it happen -- just be prepared to pay a colossal amount of money. Indeed, Maybach regular options are extraordinarily expensive.
It's hard to compare cars that cost vastly more than the average American home and only slightly less than the entire nation of Tajikistan. Despite its many niceties, though, the 2011 Maybach 57 can't match a Rolls-Royce for exquisitely decadent luxury and that uniquely British character that dates back a century. The Maybach has a classic name, but it's very much the world's nicest S-Class. That may be perfect if you're a German chancellor or P. Diddy (he owns several), but for others, the Phantom will be the more regal choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Maybach 57 is an ultraluxury sedan offered in two trim levels: the 57 and the more powerful 57 S. There are also a long-wheelbase version known as the Maybach 62 and a quasi-convertible known as the Landaulet discussed in separate reviews.
Either Maybach 57 model can be customized with nearly any features the purchaser can dream up, but nevertheless, standard kit includes 19-inch wheels, an active self-leveling suspension, adaptive cruise control, a front-cabin sunroof, power rear sunshades, 10-way power front seats with heating, massaging and memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a full leather interior, reclining and heated rear captain's chairs, four-zone climate control and a rear beverage cooler. Tech features include front and rear Bluetooth controls, a navigation system, rearview camera, a DVD entertainment system and a 21-speaker Bose surround-sound system with an in-dash single-CD player, a console-mounted six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Maybach 57 S adds a more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels, higher-performance tires, a slightly lower ride height, sportier suspension and minor exterior differences.
Regular optional extras revolve mostly around the rear passengers and include additional rear-seat entertainment options, a three-person backseat, ventilated front or rear seats, folding rear picnic tables and rear curtains. Also offered is a solar panel module that can generate electricity to power the car's ventilation fan.
Powertrains and Performance
Both the Maybach 57 and 57 S are rear-wheel drive and are powered by versions of the twin-turbocharged V12 found in some of the high-end AMG-tuned Benzes. The 5.5-liter V12 in the 57 produces 543 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque. The 57 S gets a 6.0-liter version of the V12 with 620 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Maybach estimates both will go from zero to 60 mph in the low 5-second range. According to the EPA, the Maybach 57 and 57 S will return 10 mpg city/16 mpg highway and 12 mpg combined.
The 2011 Maybach 57 has a comprehensive list of safety features that includes side airbags for the front and rear passengers, full-length side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Maybach owner will find a front cabin that resembles a lavish previous-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Electronics controls are consequently behind the times and the overall design generally lacks the sense of classical grandeur evident in the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Still, it's a safe bet many Maybach owners will be occupying the rear quarters as their chauffeur ferries them about. They will find a pair of reclining and heated bucket seats separated by a center console (a three-place bench is an option). It houses a refrigerated compartment and controls for the rear dual-zone climate control and the standard DVD entertainment system. Space is copious, but if you need even more, the long-wheelbase Maybach 62 is available.
Every Maybach drives like the large car that it is. That said, these are pretty amazing large cars, as a tremendous amount of power easily overcomes their prodigious mass. Both the 57 and the 57 S are seriously quick. In corners, the great weight works against the Maybach -- there's just no way to keep 3 tons from wallowing when cornering at speed. Yet these are cars built to deliver diplomats to a meeting of the World Bank, not set a low lap time at the Nürburgring. For such deliveries, the 2011 Maybach 57 provides a beautiful ride that swallows bumps without floating about like a luxury yacht.