How does one one-up a vehicle that has earned its reputation as the best car in the world? Because as it stands, the Mercedes Benz S Class is the pinnacle of luxury they offer. It has almost everything you would practically want in a luxury sedan, with emphasis on almost, and that is where the Maybach brand stands as the pinnacle of the pinnacle. It has come a long way for a brand that began life in the early 90s.
As sad as its unfortunate downfall was, like a phoenix from the ashes, it rises again to cater to all your luxurious needs that an already elegant product could not suffice, with more room, more power and boatloads of suaveness. But for most of the uber-luxury clientele, does it pack enough goodies to justify a 60% hike in price despite being made in India. Well, that’s what we are here to find out today.
This could be a deal-breaker that, in recent times, Maybachs share a lot more than a couple of parts and underpinnings with the S Class. Instead, today, it looks very similar and can be mistaken for a slightly different spec’d swankier S Class. The Maybach S 580 is a whole 180 mm longer than the LWB S Class currently sold in our country yet somehow is down by 50 litres of boot capacity in comparison. At a whopping 5.5m of length, the Maybach S 580 looks like a luxury barge that dwarfs most sedans you would see on the street.
Another thing that very obviously catches your attention is the 19-inch monoblock wheels that look gangsta as hell. Standing tall and pronounced are the 27 chrome-finished verticle bars on this eye-catchy grill with “Maybach” lettering to spell it out for those who already don’t know what this is. I would have loved to see a dedicated Maybach hood ornament instead of the Mercedes one, not that it’s a deal-breaker.
Move along the rather long and low side profile of this car. When you finally get to the rear, you will notice a well pronounced Maybach logo on the C-Pillar and a new taillight design shared with the outgoing S Class. These taillights are beautiful and turn on and off in an entertaining sequence. The car’s overall design is neat, tidy, and all words that describe clean, just like a well-pressed tailored suit.
Let’s come back to the front, where I would like to highlight this rather complex headlamp system. It boasts more than 1.3 million micromirrors in each headlamp that refract and direct the light precisely to illuminate objects without dazzling fellow drivers or any oncoming traffic. Plus, it puts on a cool light show as you fire up this hunky V8, but more on that later.
Interior and comfort
The S 580 boasts of something Mercedes likes to call the Chauffeur Package. It turns both the rear seats into electrically adjustable reclining ones that go as far back as 43.5 degrees and gives you great under-thigh support. Hell, it even gives you excellent calf support that also features a massage function, obviously! The cushions behind your head also feature heating if your neck gets too cold to make these recliners more comfortable. Additionally, you’re one press of the button away from pulling up powered window blinds and covering even the tiny rear quarter glass.
The best seat to be in the S 580 is the one that comes behind the front passenger seat. You are one button away from eliminating the front passenger seat and turning it into mere support for your heels. I am nearly 6ft tall, and I could sit with my legs wholly stretched, and if that is not real luxury, I don’t know what is. Virtually everything is within arm’s reach in the backseat. When you feel too lazy to reach ut for something, most features can now be accessed via voice or gesture control.
Gone are the days when you need to use your own hands to close the doors. All you need is a hand gesture or a simple command to your driver to allow him to do it for you without leaving their respective seat. I am not fond of the Macchiato Beige interior and would have picked the Sienna Brown Nappa leather upholstery. It’s just easier to maintain while remaining just as opulent. I have to give special mention to the active ambient lighting inside this vehicle that turns the darkest of nights into an occasion.
Additionally, it also visually assists the driver by changing colours that serve as cues for any warnings the sensors pick up. The Burmester high-end 4D surround sound system is a work of art. It is one of the best music systems an audiophile like me has experienced. With its 30-speaker setup, this system will knock your socks off or serenade you into sweet slumber, depending on whatever you choose to listen to. I especially love how the tweeters dramatically pop in and out each time you pause or resume your music.
The speaker system also packs an active noise cancelling feature that maintains pin-drop silence in this quiet cabin. Though this isn’t some new groundbreaking feature and can even be found on the now discontinued Ford Endeavour, regardless, it does a great job of reducing low-frequency noise.
Move to the front seats, and it feels like you’ve entered a different room altogether. A large Tesla-style 12.8-inch OLED touch screen sits on the centre console and allows you to control practically all the functions of this car from it. If that wasn’t enough, four more screens apart from it would let you do the same.
I like how rich this steering wheel feels to hold with its combination of leather and wood. However, I’m not a fan of this car’s trim because I’d rather have some rich wood than some plastic carbon fibre lookalike trim to decorate this interior. This is a very comfortable car for all four passengers. I doubt either one would complain or feel sore even after a lengthy 600 km drive.
Performance, ride and handling
Usually, you wouldn’t imagine the driver’s seat a place for a Maybach owner, but I can assure you it’s just as exciting to be in compared to the back seat. Hit the start button, and you can hear a gentle growl from this V8 that puts out a not-so-humble 503 bhp of power and 700 Nm of torque! Mercedes claims this over 2-ton car does 0-100 kmph in 4.8 seconds, and I don’t doubt it. For such a luxury-oriented vehicle, the Maybach S 580 gets off the line like an athlete and puts power down effortlessly via all four wheels. Additionally, the 9-speed gearbox shifts quick and knows when to be laid back and when to be aggressive. It gives this car a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde type of personality.
The AIRMATIC suspension does an excellent job ironing out bumps while also being a little bouncy over some roads. The suspension can occasionally be raised to clear most speed breaks, and I mean most. However, I would have preferred a simple button to access this feature instead of navigating through the menu when I approach a tall speed breaker. Additionally, Mercedes could have offered the rear-wheel steering feature, making turning this rather long car a lot less cumbersome.
When it comes to ultra-luxury sedans, one usually thinks of Rolls Royce and Bentleys, neither of which fall in the same price bracket as the Maybachs. Let’s just say that for the price of an entry-level Rolls Royce, one could probably get themselves two Maybachs. One could perceive this as a negative, but it makes a lot more sense since it makes such a higher level of opulence more accessible. Besides, even though the S 580 costs significantly more than the S Class, it still massively undercuts all of its so-called competition, which is a win.
What is quite a letdown is the limited customisation on offer that really robs you of the opportunity to tailor your own Maybach and make it truly unique. The interior colour options are limited to just 3 colours and the exterior to just 4. I would have expected better from such a flamboyant saloon, especially since it doesn’t even have the dual-tone paint scheme on offer. You can only customise the Maybach if you paid a higher price and picked the imported S 680.
Overall, the Mercedes Maybach S 580 is an excellent car to drive and succeeds at outdoing the outgoing S Class, especially when you consider its built-in in India. However, if a majority of your time is spent around the busy and broken streets of Mumbai, the Maybach GLS makes quite a strong case for itself, mainly because of how much more ergonomic it can be. But for those of you unwilling to settle for an SUV and still like your luxury to be more down-to-earth, so to say, then look no further than this beautiful piece of engineering called the Mercedes Maybach S 580.