In November, Mercedes Benz took the wraps off its latest go at reviving the Maybach marque and now it's handing out more details about the luxury sub-brand's S 500 and S 600. Less a car for driving than being driven in by your chauffeur, the new S-class features understated lines and is intentionally designed as a status symbol for the upper automotive crust.
Though the 17-page press release put out on the S 500 and 600 put the emphasis on comforts and optional extras, the new Mercedes-Maybachs aren't lacking in impressive engineering. The bodyshell is designed for stability and quiet with aluminum hybrid construction melding cast aluminum and high-strength steels, aluminum MIG welding, self-piercing riveting, and the first use of RobScan aluminum welding on a large-scale production car.
One major area that the S 500 and 600 engineers poured their efforts into is improved aerodynamics, from the streamlined bodywork complete with optimized sealed headlamp surrounds, to better radiator sealing and aerodynamic wheel spoilers. Under speed, the S-class cars lower 20 mm, there's an optimized underpanel, a spoiler tip on each rear light, and even the water drainage canals are streamlined.
Under the bonnet there are a choice of fairly impressive power plants. The S 500 has a 4.6-liter V8 engine pushing 455 bhp (335 kW) and 700 Nm of torque. Meanwhile the S 600 has a 5.9-liter V12 with 530 bhp (390 kW) and 830 Nm of torque. Both have an all-aluminum crankcase with a forged steel crankshaft, one-piece chain drive, and a low temperature cooling circuit. Behind this is a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic gearbox for the S 500, while the S 600 has the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic.
Put this together and both the S 500 and S 600 do 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5 seconds, on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
However, the real focus of the S 500 and S 600 is the back seat. In other cars, the rear seats are an afterthought to the point where in some models its impossible to use them if you actually have legs. In the case of the S-class, it's the front seat that takes the back seat – of that makes any sense.
The S-class front seats were designed specifically with a chauffeur in mind by being as comfortable as possible for the driver to rest or even sleep in when not driving. In addition, the front has a voice amplification system that uses two microphones in the interior mirror to make it easier to communicate between driver and passengers by discreetly amplifying conversations to match ambient driving noise.
Noise is also a factor in the general interior design as the Mercedes engineers worked to stamp out as much of it as possible. Billed as the "world's quietest production saloon car,"Mercedes says the cars boast impressive "aeroacoustics," with extensive wind-tunnel tests and special seals and insulation used to reduce wind noise inside the car as much as possible.
As you'd expect, tThe S-class has an extremely spacious rear, which takes advantage of the 200-mm longer wheelbase and higher roofline. Its interior is also something of a marshmallow of soft, white Nappa leather mixed with wood and chrome trim, plus fiber optics in the armrests for ambient lighting.
The rear boasts standard-fit electric-powered executive seats on the left and right with an adjustment kinematics system that allows the backrest to be set independently of the footwell and seat with an angle ranging from 19 to 43.5 degrees, alongside aircraft-style, light-alloy tables with leather inserts. There's hand-stitched door trim and even an extra head cushion thrown in.
The S-class also makes a selling point of safety with its PRE-SAFEBrake system with pedestrian detection, DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop & Go Pilot, Brake Assist BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, and Night View Assist Plus. In addition, the executive seats have seat cushion airbags under the seat cushion upholstery to prevent "submarining," or sliding under the seat belt while reclined during an accident, plus Beltbags, which are inflatable seat-belt straps that act as individual airbags.
The Mercedes-Maybach S-class debuts next month with the S 500 costing €134,053.50 (US$156,000) and the S 600 priced at €187,841.50 (US$218,500) (incl. 19% VAT).
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