2006 Maybach 57 Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
Sophisticated and highly customizable, the Maybach 57 is a truly remarkable ultraluxury sedan. Only in conspicuous splendor does it lose out to the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
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.
2006 Maybach 57 models
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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Morning drives don't get much better than this. It's beautiful, crisp and swimming in sunlight. The backdrop is southern Spain's gorgeous Costa del Sol. We sit atop napa leather chairs that are massaging and ventilating our backsides. The speedometer needle hovers around 200 kilometers per hour with nary a sound to be heard from the outside world. The only audible noises are the muted hum of a 612-horsepower biturbo V12 and the occasional sigh of sheer sensory satisfaction slipping from our mouths.
We're piloting the new 2006 Maybach 57 S, a vehicle claimed by its maker to be the most powerful production sedan on earth. And it's not letting us down.
According to Maybach, "S" stands for "Special." Now there's an understatement, just like this one, regarding the mission of this super-sedan: to deliver "luxury and performance combined at the highest level." In other words, it's over the top. And hella fast. Think of it as the illegitimate offspring of a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and a Cartieri di Pisa megayacht. And at $367,000, it's priced to match.
Impressive, not imposing
Now any car that's nearly 19 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and 5 feet tall is going to be impressive. Pictures simply can't convey the massiveness — nor the 3-ton curb weight — of this car. But if you've ever seen a Maybach in person, you know what we mean. They're enormous.
Which is not to say intimidating, like the locomotive-nosed Rolls-Royce Phantom. Indeed, the criticism most often levied against Maybachs is that they don't catch the eye the way such a pricey car should. Then again, as a Maybach sales consultant in Beverly Hills, California, pointed out to me once, "People this rich don't always want to look this rich."
Fair enough, at least for the buyer of a "standard" Maybach. But those folks would probably also be content with the regular 57's performance credentials, which are more than decent, to be sure. But we would expect "S" buyers, who are spending an extra $35 large primarily for an engine upgrade, to be somewhat more extroverted. Don't they want more flash with their dash?
It's different. Can't you tell?
Maybach thinks not. Besides the additional power, the S brings with it only slight exterior modifications, which start with monochromatic paint in either silver or black. Of course, for a price, Maybach will paint it any color you want, but for now, it's offering only those two colors.
Up front, a "twin-louvre" grille replaces the more conservative waterfall-type version on the 57. The front bumper now houses tiny round foglights, and the headlight surrounds are painted body color to accentuate the canted oval shapes of the headlight assemblies. All other Maybachs feature a gray headlight surround.
Out back, a revised rear "apron" now prominently displays its twin tailpipes, which have been rendered in a nifty trapezoidal design, and the deck lid wears a "57 S" badge on its right cheek. Similar badging can also be found on each front fender.
Most noticeable, perhaps, are the S-specific 11-spoke wheels, which measure 20 inches in diameter (up from 19) and 8.5 inches in width. Their multispoke design is said to allow for greater brake cooling, which anyone trying to stop a 6,033-pound car can appreciate.
The four-seat interior of the 57 was also retouched oh so slightly to create the 57 S. As with the paint, the napa/nubuck leather seat, dash and door trim — some 12 bulls' worth — is offered in just two colors: subtle black or splashier white with black piping. So what if white is hard to keep clean, that's why these people have personal assistants.
Though the interior architecture hasn't changed per se, the S swaps the 57's natural-stained wood trim pieces for gorgeous piano black lacquer bits with door and center console panels of carbon fiber or charcoal-stained poplar.
Now, carbon fiber is always novel, but frankly, what may look cool on a Porsche Carrera GT may seem somewhat out of character on a car like this. The dark wood treatment seems more fitting, but even with its exquisite chrome detailing, it falls short of feeling truly special. It's too reminiscent, perhaps, of all those other luxury cars out there.
The most appealing arrangement, we think, involves replacing the carbon fiber or poplar with additional black lacquer. Particularly with the white leather, this creates an art deco mood that takes you back to an era when Delahayes, Bugatti Royales and Mercedes-Benz 500Ks graced the boulevards.
Naturally, creature comforts are too numerous to list. But among them are a rear-seat champagne cooler, twin sterling silver flutes, four-zone climate control, twin rear television screens, voice-activated this and that, navigation, and a 600-watt audio system with surround sound for all four sets of ears. Each seat gets heating, cooling and massaging features, as well as actively inflating side bolsters to hold occupants in place during spirited cornering. Yeah, if you think it sounds like a nice place to spend time, you're right.
Performance: the Ultimate Luxury
Cushy as it is, what really makes the 57 S, as they say, "Special" is the sensational performance that accompanies the opulence. This starts, of course, with the enhanced biturbo V12 residing under the long hood. Each engine, built by a single technician at DaimlerChrysler's AMG division, features 10-percent greater displacement and modifications to the turbochargers and intercoolers compared with the standard 57's V12. The result: 612 hp at 4,800 rpm and 738 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm.
Yes, this is the same great motor found in the great "65-series" SL-, CL and S-Class Benz models. Equipped thus, Maybach says the 57 S makes the 0-to-62-mph sprint in just 5 seconds. Even more impressive is its 50-to-75-mph burst, which Maybach says takes just 3.7 seconds. Needless to say, on Spain's curvy motorways, passing slower drivers, which included, um, pretty much everyone, was no problem.
Chassis modifications include thicker stabilizer bars, a 15mm ride height reduction and stiffer configuration for its semiactive air suspension. According to Maybach, these contribute to a 15-percent reduction in roll angle in the sportiest of the adjustable suspension's three available settings.
That sounds good, but it'll take more than that to calm the rocking motion of the Maybach's 3 tons of leather, wood and metal shifting along its yaw and roll centers. We selected the stiffest setup and didn't dare change it. Roll was also apparent during our shotgun ride around the glorious, privately owned Ascari road course nestled in the mountains north of Marbella. That said, once the body took a set, the tires gripped and didn't let go, making aggressive cornering a stable, predictable and fun affair.
Interestingly, Maybach didn't enhance the sedan's brakes, which proved more than up to snuff for "S" duty. The track time at Ascari demonstrated just how well the big gal can halt her progress. The driver stabbing the brakes approaching the corner would leave us hanging off our seatbelt.
Some of that stellar braking and cornering no doubt can be attributed to the specially commissioned, high-performance 275/45YR20 Michelin Pilot Sport tires, with their "variable contact patch" technology. These tires incorporate harder compounds on the outer shoulder of the tire for handling and a softer compound in the center for ride comfort.
'Bach or boat? Decisions, decisions
Maybach representatives regularly back away from comparisons to other automobiles such as the similarly massive Rolls-Royce Phantom or the slick new Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Rather, Maybach says it considers motor yachts and personal aircraft as the primary competition of the plain-Jane 57. Uh huh.
With the 57 S, Maybach doesn't have to play coy anymore. Thanks to its fantastic engine and uncompromising, feature-laden interior, the 2006 Maybach 57 S is better than those other two cars, and anything else in its segment. So, Maybach, shut up about the yachts and kick some Rolls-Royce arse already.
Used 2006 Maybach 57 Overview
The Used 2006 Maybach 57 is offered in the following submodels: 57 Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A), and S 4dr Sedan (6.0L 12cyl Turbo 5A). The Used 2006 Maybach 57 comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2006 Maybach 57 comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a unlimited yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.
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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Maybach 57?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.