by Gerhard Horn
Is the Mercedes-Maybach S necessary? The standard S-Class has long been the most significant player in the large luxury sedan segment, with multiple players trying but failing to usurp it. Not content with simply dominating it, Mercedes set its sights on the ultra-luxury sedan segment nearly 20 years ago with the original Maybach. It was poorly received and generally considered to be the preferred ride of the nouveau riche. Old money kept on buying Rollers and Bentleys. Mercedes brought back the Maybach name with the previous-generation S-Class but didn't try to hide the car's roots. This made it a more palatable proposition but still less desirable than its British rivals. Now, there's an all-new Mercedes-Maybach S based on the all-new S-Class. It's slightly more reserved design-wise, apart from the horrifying forged alloy wheel options. Can this new Mercedes-Maybach S shake its nouveau riche heritage and go head-to-head with the British aristocrats?
The Maybach was introduced in 2021, so there are no significant changes, aside from the new engine. For 2022, Mercedes adds a V12 engine option called the S680 4Matic. It produces a stunning 621 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, reducing the 0-60 time to just 4.4 seconds.
See trim levels and configurations:
The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S has driving modes, and we think that's sacrilege. You get the usual Mercedes-Benz presets, including Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, as well as an exclusive Maybach setting. The sport modes do the usual electronic trickery like stiffening the suspension and sharpening the throttle response. We have no idea why. It makes less sense than Carole Baskin's missing husband.
We do like the model-exclusive Maybach mode and believe it should be the only mode. If we were in charge of Maybach and you hit the sport button, a stern German woman would appear on the center display shouting "Nein, Nein, Nein," until you put it back in Maybach mode.
This setting minimizes body motion, goes even further to disguise gear shifts, and gives the driver a gentler throttle response.
Both Maybach models come standard with Airmatic suspension, which can control each of the wheels individually. It will even adjust the suspension according to where the passenger is located to make the ride as smooth as possible. The ride feels the same all the time. Whether the car is stuck in traffic doing no more than five mph or on the freeway doing 90 mph, it's silent, soft, and incredibly relaxing. The only hint that you're moving faster is the scenery flying by the window. The only concession in the handling department is standard 10-degree rear-axle steering. This is not meant to make the car feel more agile but rather to help thread its lengthy body through tight city center corners.
Yes, because it's a significant departure from the old vulgar Maybach models. In the right color and with the right wheels, this car simply blends into the background and draws no attention to itself. It's the perfect choice for a VIP who wants to travel anonymously. It's now as tasteful as the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Ghost used to be, but both those cars have become the car of choice for bold individuals with very little taste. For proof, have a look at the Rolls-Royce website. Instead of showing you what the car looks like, it simply plays a video of some young people partying while spilling champagne in the back of a Phantom.
Yes, the Maybach costs a lot more than the S-Class, which is a phenomenal car, but Mercedes has moved the Maybach's focus entirely to the rear seats. There is no driver enjoyment to be found here. This car is all about those luxurious rear seats, and in that sense, it's a lot better than the S-Class. A Maybach used to be an ostentatious display of wealth, but the new model just wants its rear passengers to enjoy a refined ride with no intrusions. We respect this new approach and think that it's what the Maybach should have been from the start.
The previous-generation Mercedes-Maybach S wasn't as clearly defined as this new model. Mercedes wants you to drive the S-Class, while the Maybach is meant to be driven in. You can push the right front seat in the S-Class forward for more space, but nothing like the Maybach offers. The S-Class starts at around $110,000 for the S500, making it over $70,000 cheaper than the base Maybach S580. That gets you a perky six-cylinder power plant with EQ Boost, but the S580 shares its V8 with the Maybach S580. The S-Class is feature-packed but you'll need to pay extra for heated/ventilated rear seats, four-zone climate control, and the Burmester 4D sound system, all of which the Maybach gets as standard. There isn't a bad choice between these two, but it all depends if you want to do the driving or be driven around.
The Mercedes-Maybach may offer a more refined ride. It might even provide more equipment as standard, but none of this matters. The fact is this: Maybach simply doesn't have the same brand value as Bentley. You'll have to explain what a Maybach is to non-car folk, but the entire world knows what a Bentley is. The Flying Spur is also more handsome and yet still elegant. And while it makes life comfortable in the rear, the Flying Spur is still very much a driver's car.
If you have no interest in driving, the Maybach is the obvious choice. But if you still want to enjoy the occasional drive, there's nothing even remotely comparable on offer for $200k. We'd buy a black Bentley Flying Spur V8 in a heartbeat.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S: