The newly launched Mercedes-Maybach brand now represents the most luxurious, opulent and expensive S-Class in the range, much like Mercedes-AMG represents the most overtly sporting. A stretch in length and the comprehensive standard specification make for a relative bargain in the super-luxury marketplace.
In the Metal:
It may not sound like much, but the addition of 207mm to the already lengthy Mercedes-Benz long-wheelbase S-Class makes a big difference. Inside it's notably more accommodating, while outwardly its proportions look a good bit more resolved too. That stretch signifies the most opulent S-Class money can buy and it distinguishes itself from the rest of the range by the revival of the Mercedes-Maybach badge.
So this S 600 is a Mercedes-Maybach, which, as Mercedes-AMG signifies ultimate sporting prowess, the Maybach element signifies ultimate luxury - and lots of it too. The Mercedes-Maybach S 600, not wanting for anything on specification, has a single option of note, the choice of a conventional bench rear seat or a First Class cabin option. The latter brings a pair of motorised, heated, massaging, reclining chairs that will redefine what you consider comfortable. Really, you'd be mad not to have them, especially as Mercedes-Maybach claims that this model is all about being driven in.
More than any other S-Class, this is a car in which to be a passenger. The engineering changes define that, Mercedes spending over two years to take the already quiet, comfortable and spacious S-Class and make it even more so. There are more welds in the rear to stiffen it up, foam-filled tyres and even acoustic sheeting behind the seats and in front of the passenger compartment; every little facet has been tinkered with to allow Mercedes to claim the Maybach S 600 is the quietest luxury saloon you can buy. The wheelbase stretch also means re-profiled doors for greater privacy, the seals around them perfected in the wind tunnel to mean there is no wind noise even at high speed.
For all the comfort in the back (and really, it's so lovely back there you could move in), the driver does alright, too. Being at the top of the range there's not a driver aid - be it comfort, convenience or safety related - that's not standard, which means the chauffeur's not got it too tough up front. The 6.0-litre V12 biturbo engine might be whisper quiet, the seven-speed automatic all but imperceptible in its shifts, but it's never lacking in performance. That'll be thanks to the 530hp and tugboat-rivalling 830Nm of torque, which, even hauling around an additional 120kg of luxury kit - not to mention anyone in the back - never, ever, feels tardy. There's a Sport button in there, but really, nobody's ever going to press it. If there's a noticeable change over the standard S-Class it's in agility, as the Maybach S 600 isn't quite as able in the bends as its lesser relations, but you'll only get in trouble with the boss if you're a bit tasty in the curves anyway.
Instead, allow that massively potent engine to tick over at about 1,600rpm at 120km/h and indulge in the ease of it all. The lack of noise from anywhere really is quite remarkable. There's a mighty 24-speaker audio system that fills the void if you need your ears tickling, while there's more toys inside than Santa's workshop to keep you and your passengers amused.
What you get for your Money:
Everything is included. Seriously. The biggest flaw of the old stand-alone Maybach - aside from its gargantuan proportions and incongruous styling - was it trailed its S-Class relation for cutting-edge equipment. Popping the Maybach badge at the top of the S-Class line allows it to remain very much up to date rather than an obsolete oddity. It also allows Mercedes-Benz to offer a far more up-to-date rival, against cars like the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Continental Flying Spur, for less money. Think of any in-car technology and the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 has it, from head-up displays to night vision, internet connection to scented ionised air - whatever that is - and suspension that's so clever it reads the road ahead and adjusts the ride accordingly.
Much like Mercedes-AMG isn't limited to a single car in the Mercedes-Benz line-up so too will Maybach extend over a number of models. Insiders have admitted there will be a Pullman super-long-wheelbase version soon, while they're not denying with any conviction the possibility of a GLS (previously called the GL-Class) SUV model. Given its target market for volume is China we wouldn't rule out a China-only stretched E-Class Mercedes-Maybach in time, either.
It's not often we'd say a car costing as much as the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 is a value proposition, but compared to its competition it is. There's a proviso though, for all its obvious luxury and huge comfort it lacks the cachet of its more rarefied rivals by virtue of being offered as a range - albeit at the very top. It is still a remarkable flagship though and one that surpasses such competition in pretty much every measurable scale. That alone is enough to recommend it, and riding in the back in virtual silence confirms it.