Mercedes-Benz makes great luxury super-sedans, and their newly unveiled Mercedes-Maybach S600 is no different, touting cutting-edge comforts that your E-class-leasing manager could only dream of. But here's something your boss doesn't know: This $250,000 car is almost completely useless.
I got a chance to spend some time with the Mercedes-Maybach S600 at the LA Auto Show earlier this month, where Mercedes unveiled the car to an unruly mob of photographers, journalists, and people that get sexually excited by the words "dynamic" and "market segment." You can learn all about the car and its plethora of cool, extraordinary, and downright unnecessary features here.
However, I noticed something else at the show. Or, I should say, I noticed a lack of something at the show. The floor was missing the other top-spec S-classes: The regular S600 and S65 AMG 4-door. The reason why the cars were omitted was pretty obvious to even the least astute observer – they would render this car mostly moot. It wouldn't take long before the media realized that the unveiling of Mercedes' new quarter million dollar Bentley fighter isn't actually any different than its other quarter million dollar Bentley fighters.
Here's a quick test: Try and spot the difference between Mercedes' photo of the interior of an S600, and my shot of the Maybach S600:
Other than a Maybach badge on the center console and some minor interior color changes, the interiors are nearly identical. The only real difference that sets it apart from other W222 chassis models is an increase of wheelbase by 8.1 inches, or 2 inches more than the difference between a short wheel base S-class and a long wheelbase model. The cost for an extra 8 inches of car? $40,000 on top of the price of a fully-loaded S600. That's $5,000 per inch. Also the rear doors are shorter because that creates more privacy. Or something.
And as if Mercedes was trying to create tangible proof that Germans do in fact possess a sense of humor, you can get a faster, equally well-appointed, and more exclusive long-wheelbase 614-horsepower S65 AMG for the same money. Hell, you can get a regular S550 Mercedes with all options ticked and it would save you nearly $100 grand, while giving you most of the same car, if not status. Here's an S550 for reference:
Much to my disappointment, the Mercedes-Maybach S600 is little more than an overpriced trim package, soon to be even more obsolete with the unveiling of the 21-foot S-Class Pullman next year. My opinion, however, doesn't really matter, as I'm not the target demographic for this luxury sedan. But what options do those buyers have if they're loyal to Mercedes and want the most exclusive car for their buck?
Ladies and gents, I present the outgoing Maybach 62 Partition, yours for less than the price of a new Mercedes-Maybach S600, with the added benefit of being nearly as long as the aforementioned Pullman, with a solid partition in the middle and options for complete, 360 degree privacy.
This car comes with a translucent electrically controlled panoramic glass roof, refrigerator, Bose Surround for every passenger with noise-cancelling headphones, fully adjustable reclining electric seats with massage, and 100 percent black-out electric curtains. It's also more powerful than the new Maybach, with an AMG 612 horsepower twin turbocharged V12.
As far as value in concerned, the new Maybach buyer is best suited to look to the past, as the future just seems like a exercise in expensive and pointless futility.
Will the idea of status allow Mercedes-Maybach to succeed where regular o'l Maybach didn't? We'll see.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.