Our role in Maybach's loosely scripted "reality" show began just outside the international air terminal in Dubai, the immensely wealthy trade center of the Middle East. Our spotless black 2008 Maybach 62 S, the Most Powerful Chauffeur-Driven Saloon in Series Production, was parked just a few steps away, its great bulk promising sanctuary from the hassles endured by the less fortunate.
Befitting our new faux affluent status, we were immediately transported into the Maybach's right rear seat by the fluid manipulations of the expert chauffeur, who soon had the huge sedan whispering along the highway toward downtown Dubai.
Maybach's script called for "relaxation": yachting off Dubai's coast, shopping at the city's famous gold souk, sipping hookahs of peach-scented tobacco and snifters of Scotland's peatiest malts, ordering staff around...you know, the sort of things the rich do to occupy their time. So, calling upon the best skills of our craft, we adjusted the temperature for our section of the four-zone climate system, put into motion the seven motors that recline our sybaritically adjustable leather seat and relaxed.
Power to the people drivers
As respectful guests of the emirate, we obeyed Dubai's modest speed limits on the way to the five-star resort. (Besides, there's photo radar everywhere.) The Maybach 62 S was running along so quietly, our driver had to keep a close eye on the speedometer to avoid an expensive ticket. Meanwhile, in the back, it felt as though the car were standing still. Even the thrum of the 20-inch Michelins seemed to float around the edge of human hearing.
Maybach does place an extra speedometer in the passenger compartment as well as dials for time of day and outside temperature, so we were able to stay on top of things from the back, snug within our leather armchair-style accommodation. We drew the side curtains closed, tuned the 600-watt sound system to a quiet classical selection and assumed the position of a Maybach owner catching up on some of the sleep lost while flying through 12 time zones.
Ignore the additional speedometer hung from the suede headliner, and guessing the 62 S's speed as it is gliding down the highway is near impossible. And judging the true measure of its acceleration, even from behind the steering wheel the following day, was just as difficult. Could the 62 S really haul its 6,281 pounds from zero to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds as Mercedes claims?
"Go for it!" yelled our driver, who was fully reclined in the back. We made several runs along a deserted desert highway, and so sedately did the 62 S confirm its performance claims that a roadside flock of camels paid scant attention to our extralegal speeds. Our driver pretended to snooze, but we could tell he was awake, uncomfortable with our game of trading places.
Smoke him, James
Turns out rich guys don't like their limos getting smoked by the other guy's limo, which is why the 62 S is powered by a twin-turbocharged 612-horsepower V12, the same 6.0-liter engine offered in the Maybach 57 S as well as the Mercedes-Benz CL65, and S65 and SL65.
It packs 738 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm, which means you can nail it from a dead stop and blithely blow away most everything else on the road, including your buddy's Rolls-Royce Phantom. The 62 S is not as quick as the smaller and lighter Maybach 57 S (which weighs a mere 6,017 pounds), but it's faster than the Rolls, which we've tested at 5.9 seconds to 60 mph. Numbers aside, the 62 S didn't feel all that fast.
And we didn't mind. The 62 S was designed to be the most passenger-friendly of all passenger cars, so its extreme performance is purposely muted by sheets of acoustic insulation, intricately molded seals and layers of sound-deadening film, both in the front and rear windscreens and the specially laminated side glass. Shifts from its five-speed automatic felt as smooth as a supermodel's skin after an avocado wrap.
The rear-wheel-drive 62 S is over 20 feet long, but its forward thrust is so linear it felt like the rest of the world was being jerked backward around our rocket ship as it glided over the pavement. It was kind of strange, really. The Maybach pushed through the atmosphere so effortlessly, and with such stability, that steering it to the electronically imposed 155-mph limit was about as strenuous as guiding an elevator to the next floor.
Bring around the Maybach, Klaus
Maybach engineers purposely tuned the suspension of the 62 Special for comfort rather than handling, and though the underpinnings were indeed very compliant, the car never felt floaty or under-suspended. Credit Mercedes' wondrous Airmatic electronic, dual-control air suspension and the slightly larger footprint and lower aspect ratio of the 20-inch tires.
We were especially impressed by the brake system, comprised of two separate electrohydraulic circuits, internally vented discs, twin calipers at each front wheel and the electronic assistance of ESP, ASR, ABS and Brake Assist. There are certain rules of physics that apply to stopping 3-ton weights, but these brakes felt as though they could rewrite those rules.
After settling into our summer villa and enjoying a hug and kiss from our personal butler (apparently a custom in that part of the world?), we ordered our driver to Dubai's famous spice and gold souks. Open-air markets crowd the old quarter alongside the Creek, an estuary that winds through the heart of Dubai and has long been the center of trade for that part of the world.
We were tempted to buy several bushels of saffron, but we didn't have time to haggle, the only proper way to buy anything in Dubai's souks. Instead, using the optional compass on board, we pointed our driver toward the open desert. The compass can track two directions at once and also, if desired, display the direction to Mecca; we directed our driver to lunch.
To distance the 62 S from the less powerful 62, several changes were made to the exterior — a different front grille, headlamp cluster and a redesigned rear apron — and to interior trim, now a combination of black piano lacquer and carbon fiber. Of course, there's really no such thing as a "standard" Maybach. No two are completely alike. Add up all the available combinations of materials and options...well, there are people to do those things for you.
If you're in shape to spend more than $480,000 for one of these, all you need to know is that your 2008 Maybach 62 S will be like no one else's, and if you get smoked by some other limo, maybe it's time to get a better driver.
After a wonderful lunch overlooking the dunes of Araby, our short, happy life as a rich Maybach owner came to a somewhat ignominious end as we crawled, just like everyone else, through dense traffic to Dubai International. Worried about missing our flight, we leaned forward to urge our driver on. "Hey, buddy, we didn't buy the most powerful chauffeur-driven saloon in series production for you to dilly-dally around. Step on it."
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.