Back in 2002, Daimler-Benz revived a 93-year old brand name it had acquired in 1960 (but didn’t use it then) with the aim of offering something beyond the upper reaches of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship level. It wanted to create an ultra-luxury model that could be compared to Rolls-Royce and Bentley, the British brands owned by the BMW Group and Volkswagen Group, respectively.
Perhaps it was unfortunate timing and the world did not need another brand like that, or it was just the approach which was taken that saw the Maybach – as a standalone brand – not gaining a big clientele. It expected to sell 2,000 cars a year but by the time the brand ceased operations in 2012, only about 3,000 had been sold over a 10-year span.
In 2015, the Maybach brand was brought back again but this time, it was to be part of the S-Class range, an additional variant right at the very top. That made more sense to customers and perhaps even provided a safe haven for the model to grow from.
It fared better in this approach and over the past 5 years, around 60,000 examples of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class have been delivered worldwide. Last year alone, around 12,000 units were sold, with China, Russia, South Korea, the USA and Germany being the main markets.
The Maybach differs from the S-Class in being more exclusive and much more luxurious, as was the tradition of the original Maybach. Distinguishing features at the front include the distinctive bonnet with a chromed fin and the Mercedes-Maybach radiator grille. This is highly recognisable by its vertical, three-dimensional trim strips.
The rear doors are wider than those of the brother models, and the C-pillars feature a fixed quarterlight. On request, electrically operated comfort rear doors can be installed. The exclusive appearance can be enhanced by a two-tone paint finish with a dividing line which is applied by hand, a process that takes up to one week.
Shared with latest S-Class
The interior shares the completely new interior design of the latest S-Class. The sculptured look of the dashboard, centre console and armrests appears to float above an expansive interior landscape. Up to 5 display screens are available, with a 12.8-inch OLED central display as a high-tech control centre. A 12.3-inch 3D driver display with three-dimensional representation of other road-users and pronounced depth and shade effects can also be provided.
Active ambience lighting – an animated LED light band with intelligent comfort and safety functions – produces a rose gold white and amethyst glow. The ‘Welcome Rear’ entry display welcomes passengers with a special light show and new adaptive rear lighting follows the wishes of the occupants in terms of brightness, and size and position of the light spot.
Although advanced technologies are key features, there is plenty of classic luxury too. Traditionalists will appreciate the large areas of trim on the front seats, and high‑quality wood surrounds encasing the rear of the front seat backrests.
MBUX with more personalisation
The distinctive look of the driver display underlines the special status of the Mercedes‑Maybach. And there is, of course, MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) – the advanced and intelligent infotainment system. The second generation MBUX can network with a wide range of vehicle systems and sensor data. The possibilities for personalisation and intuitive operation have become far more extensive and MBUX Interior Assist can also be installed in the rear.
MBUX Interior Assist recognises numerous occupant intentions. It recognises eye-direction, hand gestures and the body language of the occupants, so as to assist with automatic vehicle functions as the situation requires. It is also able to recognise movements and gestures by the rear occupants with the help of 3D laser cameras in the ceiling.
For example, the belt extender for the outer rear seats automatically offers up the seatbelt when MBUX Interior Assist recognises the occupant’s intention to reach for the belt by hand movements. The exit warning function has also been extended and is able to register that a rear passenger intends to leave the vehicle.
The engines of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class are electrified and have an integrated second-generation starter-generator (ISG). This provides a boost of up to 15 kW, facilitates efficient ‘gliding’ when driving at constant speed, makes the start/stop experience even more comfortable, and makes the drive system more efficient overall.
All-wheel drive is standard with the 9G-TRONIC transmission improved and adapted for the ISG. The electric motor, the power electronics and the transmission cooler have now moved into or onto the transmission. An electric refrigerant compressor is used which means that even when the engine is not running (start/stop and gliding phases), the cabin air can still be cooled. This will also help to keep the champagne or other drinks chilled in the refrigerated compartment.
It goes without saying that a car of this class will require the best ride comfort, and this is provided by the AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable damping. Optional rear-axle steering improves manoeuvrability in urban areas, reducing the turning circle by up to 2 metres.
The optional, fully active E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension on a 48V basis uses a stereo camera to scan the road ahead and smoothens out undulations. It also gives additional protection in the event of a lateral collision, as it raises the vehicle level. It can reduce the loads acting on the occupants because it directs the impact forces towards particularly resistant structures in the lower area of the vehicle.
Ride comfort also means quietness and the big sedan is said to have very good low NVH (noise, vibrations, harshness). The extended measures mainly benefit the rear section with additional absorbent foam installed in the rear wheel arches, and thicker laminated class in the fixed quarterlights of the C-pillars.
Active road noise compensation is used for the first time. The system reduces unwanted low-frequency noises using counter-phased sound waves. Noise-optimised tyres with foam absorbers can also be installed.
Especially in the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, particular attention has always been paid to safety in the rear section. During severe frontal collisions, the rear airbag can considerably reduce the loads acting on the heads and necks of seatbelt-wearing occupants on the outer rear seats.
In day-to-day driving, new and extended assistance systems are provided to relieve driver stress. This enables the driver to stay alert for longer and reach the destination more safely and comfortably. When danger threatens, the assistance systems can respond according to the situation and reduce the severity of possible collisions, or even avoid them.
With the DRIVE PILOT, conditionally automated driving becomes available from Mercedes-Benz. From the second half of 2021, on suitable motorway sections and where traffic density is high, the DRIVE PILOT can offer to take over the driving, initially up to the legally permitted speed of 60 km/h.
Sales of the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class will commence in the some markets next month and then in Germany and other markets from early 2021. Customers in North America and China will get their cars during the second quarter of 2021.