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2024 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 First Drive: V12-Powered Masterclass

This ultra-luxury powerhouse is every bit as sublime as you'd expect

2024 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S680 front 3/4
  • The Mercedes-Maybach S 680 and its V12 are things of wonder.
  • Refined, quiet, comfortable — this is everything a Maybach should be.
  • Is it enough to take on the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Flying Spur? We spent a week with the Maybach to find out.

A Maybach badge carries certain expectations. This cannot just be a Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a touch more leather. From the way it rides, to the insulation of the cabin, to the way the tech zhuzhes up the interior and dazzles occupants, a Maybach has to up the S-Class' game absolutely everywhere. Mercedes-Benz itself admits that this Maybach S 680 — which features one of the very last V12 engines on sale anywhere — is competition for the Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Talk about some heavy hitters.

We'll start with the Maybach's V12 because, frankly, that's the biggest reason why this is Mercedes' most expensive product ($245,650 as tested). It's a 6.0-liter twin-turbo unit that cranks out 621 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. That's more than the V12 in the Rolls-Royce Ghost and just 5 hp ponies down on the W12 in last year's Flying Spur (which you can't get with Bentley's W12 anymore). Codenamed M279, this is probably the last time Mercedes will throw a V12 under the hood of, well, anything.

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2024 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S 680 rear 3/4

But what a send-off it is. The V12's immense grunt simply shrugs off the Maybach's 5,558-pound curb weight. It's neither clumsy nor does it deliver a sensational gut punch. The V12 just glides off the line with wave after wave of luscious torque. In our testing it reached 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.2 seconds. That's quick enough to completely dismiss the likes of the Lexus LC 500 and Jaguar F-Type at a set of lights despite carrying an extra three-quarters of a ton around. Unless you're in a bona fide sports car you really shouldn't line up next to the S 680 thinking you'll win.

The V12 was destined to make the Maybach S 680 punchy in a straight line, but anyone would forgive this nearly 18-foot-long land barge for being a bit floaty and ponderous given its luxurious bent. Yet that's not the case at all. Being based on the regular S-Class is a great place to start — the current W223 is the best-driving S-Class in recent memory.

Of course, there's a little extra magic baked into the Maybach. The way this land yacht responds to your inputs at the wheel is beautifully judged. The imposing front end follows your commands with deft aplomb and the rear-wheel steering is so well calibrated that it feels about 5 feet shorter than it really is. That's super helpful as you weave your way through the bustle of California's Pacific Coast Highway and into the hills above Malibu.

That nimbleness is thanks in large part to Airmatic, a self-leveling suspension system that combines air springs and adaptive dampers. The result is a car that is exceedingly well supported when it needs to be, level during cornering, and comfortable no matter what you thump it over. In most cars, you see a bump and your brain prepares for the sound and feeling of impact. But the Maybach glides over whatever's in front of it without so much as a shudder.

2024 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S680 interior

It's almost eerie how quiet the Maybach is inside, even if you're on the move. Double-glazed glass at all four doors and active noise cancellation means it's near dead-silent all of the time. The lack of road, wind, or tire noise in every condition gives the 4D Burmester sound system a chance to really shine. It is easily one of the Maybach's high points. The bass is deep and the highs are crispy. There's no noticeable distortion whatsoever, and even though you can play with the EQ, leaving it in its standard settings and simply enjoying its goodness is the way to go.

The rest of the interior matches up. From the supple leather seats (which are heated, cooled, and adjustable in more than a dozen ways) to the heated armrests to the leather headliner and the leather-lined door pockets, everything is as ritzed-up as you'd expect. There isn't a single surface that isn't coated in something luscious. Name a creature comfort you'd expect to find in a sedan like this and the S 680 probably has it.

But the best part has to be how the Maybach dazzles your passengers. The business-class lounge in the rear seats is something most people don't get the chance to experience. Throw in the interior ambient lighting that gives you dozens of colors and themes to pick from, the Maybach-branded polished metal Champagne flutes that "ting" when you cheers, as well as a fridge to keep your drinks cold, and everyone feels special. The wows and ear-to-ear grins this thing gets from friends and family is the party trick that really sears this car into your heart. It's a sensational place to be, whether you're the one at the pedals or drinking champers in the back seat.

2024 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S680 interior detail

So is the Maybach as good as a Rolls-Royce Ghost or a Bentley Flying Spur? Not quite. There's an even greater sense of isolation in the Rollers of the world and Bentleys are just a touch better to drive. But the Maybach runs it so close that it will trouble some of the smart people over in Goodwood and Crewe. If you went with the Maybach over either of those, there isn't a single person who could tell you you're wrong. And if they try, just roll up the windows and leave them in your V12's dust.

2024 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S 680 interior rear

Photography by Ryan Greger