Full 2012 Maybach 57 Review
What's New for 2012
The Maybach's final year sees no changes.
If the Rolls-Royce is the king of all automobiles, this must make the 2012 Maybach 57 the Kaiser. While the Rolls puts a premium on tradition, presentation and classic British opulence, the Maybach is all-business, no-nonsense and impervious to change, standing by while other ultra-luxury cars progress. This approach has not been successful, however, and as such, 2012 will be the Maybach's final year before it joins old Wilhelm in the annals of history.
Now, the Maybach 57 is actually one of three cars sold by this division of Mercedes-Benz. All are essentially the same car, but the 62 has a longer wheelbase, while the Landaulet has a quasi-convertible roof. Though the Maybach name nearly dates back to the Kaiser, the brand's current iteration was launched in 2002. The car itself also dates from that period, making it one of the oldest on the road.
Frankly, the Maybach's age shows and so does its lineage. Not only does the Maybach have a clear resemblance to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class introduced back in 2000, but it's mechanically based on that car as well. This is still a Mercedes-Benz we're talking about, and the Maybach has certainly been updated over the years, but in total, the 57 comes off as an über-Benz rather than a bespoke luxury sedan. By comparison, you'd be hard-pressed to detect the BMW influences in a Rolls-Royce, or the Volkswagen DNA in a Bentley.
To its credit, the 2012 Maybach 57 is still constructed to a standard that would make any old Prussian nod with stern approval. To send his crowned head back into the plush headrests, the Maybach comes with a choice of twin-turbocharged V12 engines: one good for 543 horsepower and the other for 620 hp. The latter is known as the 57 S.
Putting the Kaiser aside for a moment, it's the P. Diddys and Dubai oil executives of today who really matter. And what they are more likely to care about are the interior trappings. Sure, the dash looks every bit like something from the turn of the century (this one, not the Kaiser's) and its in-car electronics controls are a generation behind those found in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Yet our modern-day bigwigs are more likely to be enjoying their Maybach from the backseat, which has all the leather, wood and craftsmanship they'd expect given the Maybach's exorbitant cost.
The Maybach also sets itself apart from the Rolls by offering a pair of heated and reclining backseat captain's chairs separated by a center console containing climate and entertainment controls. It also has a miniature fridge perfect for chilling champagne -- though given open container laws, perhaps it would be better to get the Maybach 62 and its optional solid partition. If such opulence isn't opulent enough, buyers can turn to the Maybach "Commissioning Studio" that can equip a 57 in literally any way they wish. Just be prepared for shocking price tags, since Maybach options are extraordinarily expensive -- even at this price range.
To be honest, it's hard to compare cares that cost vastly more than the average American home and only slightly less than the gross domestic product of Kyrgyzstan. Yet if you intend to spend most of your time in the backseat, then the 2012 Maybach 57 or its long-wheelbase sibling is probably your best choice. If you want something with more character that doesn't look 10 years old the second it leaves the dealership, we think a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Bentley Mulsanne would be a better choice. It's also hard to argue with a "regular old" Mercedes-Benz S600. That probably wouldn't be the choice of the Kaiser, but Angela Merkel would no doubt appreciate its more modern take on German luxury.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 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 feature 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, an older version of the Mercedes COMAND electronics interface, a rearview camera, a DVD entertainment system and a 21-speaker Bose surround-sound audio 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.
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 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 2012 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 Bentley Mulsanne or Rolls-Royce Phantom. Actually, the current S-Class is a little classier than the Maybach.
Still, it's a safe bet many Maybach owners will be occupying the rear quarters as their chauffeurs ferry 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 it's not enough, the long-wheelbase Maybach 62 is not only more spacious but features La-Z-Boy-style footrests.
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. But in the corners, such 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 rappers to the American Music Awards, not set a low lap time at the Nürburgring. For such deliveries, the 2012 Maybach 57 provides a beautiful ride that swallows bumps without floating about like a luxury yacht.