What is it?
This car was earlier going to be called the Maybach edition; and that, despite the double barrel Mercedes-Maybach name, is exactly what it is; an even more special version of the S-class. So, what exactly is an S600? Basically, a longer, taller and more spacious version of the long-wheelbase S-class. With an additional 207mm thrown into the wheelbase for good measure, this is simply the most luxurious version of the S-class yet (an even longer and more luxurious Pullman version has been planned). The big differences include a new front grille that's been made to look even more upmarket, the rear seat occupants can now hide behind the extended 'C' pillar and the rear quarter glass and glass house is covered in a tastefully executed thick band of chrome. The car also carries both badges, Mercedes and Maybach, with the double M Maybach Motors logo looking fabulous on the C pillar. There's new hardware under the hood as well. Instead of a twin-turbo V8 you now get the sledgehammer-like punch of a twin-turbo V12 that puts out a huge 523bhp.
What's it like on the inside?
The cabin is even more luxurious than that of the S. It can be trimmed in a wide variety of leathers, woods and assorted shiny bits and the list of additional luxury fittings is long and comprehensive. Selected highlights include air-conditioned, heated and massaging seats for all passengers, a system that pumps scented, ionised air around the cabin and a 1540-watt Burmester 3D surround sound system with 24 speakers. The two individual rear seats can be reclined even more to 43 degrees, due to the longer wheelbase. Missing, however, are the champagne flutes the earlier Maybach was famous for, and a refrigerated compartment, that should have been there behind the central elbow rest.
The two thrones at the rear are good enough to seriously embarrass most first-class airline seats, especially for sumptuousness and opulence. The fully reclineable chairs are finished in the softest and most supple Nappa leather and with all the extra legroom available, you can really stretch out, and even kick your legs out. You also get fold-out tables, a huge sunroof and a moonroof with photo chromatic glass. And, for the first time in India, you get inflatable seat belt airbags too, or beltbags as Merc calls them. The entertainment system at the rear though is a bit fiddly to use and the remote-based system feels quite antiquated.
What's it like to drive?
You've never really cruised till you've wafted along in a S600. The experience is just sublime. And the S600's turbo damped V12 takes the word refined to the next level. Truly one of the great large capacity engines around, this motor is both whisper quiet and hugely responsive. To begin with, there's the way it starts up, with a smooth-as-oiled-silk VFFRRROOOOOM; only audible if you keep the windows rolled down. Then there's the unnatural hush; which is absolute, even with the air-con blower turned to zero. Yes you can hear a sporty growl past 4000rpm, but below that, just nothing. And when you rev it a bit, it smoothens up even more, so there's not even a hint of a buzz. It's so smooth you often forget the engine is running, especially on a noisy street. I once erroneously tried to lock the car from the outside; while the engine was still on!
Then there's the responsiveness; which is always there, like Big Brother, ready to step aside and release an avalanche as soon as you so much as touch the accelerator. So all you need to do, even if you want to only breeze past someone, is squeeze gently, and the Maybach just slingshots past, a big shot of boost served up to make the experience even more unforgettable. What really gets you, however, is the excess of power doled out; ask for 30, it gives you 60, you ask for 50, it gives you 100; and that just feels soooo good.
It's even brilliant when you want to accelerate. Squeeze down hard and the S600 rocks back slightly onto its rear wheels and then squashes your kidneys and lower back, with no letup until you are on the wrong side of 200kph. A bit of perspective; this 2.3 tonne car does 0-100 in five seconds; and I just love that hint of menace in the exhaust. What an engine. What a shame it is then that most S600 owners in India, who are normally reposed in the back, will never get to experience the magic.
Should I buy one?
From the outside, the Maybach is undoubtedly more understated than rivals from Bentley or Rolls-Royce, and there's no question, the S-class doesn't have the same snob appeal either. Clearly more special, both on the inside and the out, the new Maybach is also even more impressive than the already class-leading S500. Levels of space, comfort and technology are astounding and the S600 has probably what is one of the best luxury car V12 engines around. The whisper-quiet Mercedes-Maybach, is an even better, more luxurious version of the best car in the world. It really is as simple as that.
Mercedes India has introduced two models in the Maybach range, the fully-imported S 600 Maybach tested here is priced at Rs 2.6 crore while the locally-assembled S 500 Maybach powered by a V8 motor is priced at Rs 1.67 crore. (Prices ex-showroom, Pune).