Most of the time, when I get the keys to a new car, I can't wait to slip behind the wheel and drive. When the Mercedes-Maybach S600 arrived, however, my first instinct was to call a friend to steer while I slipped into the back seat—which is how many owners will spend their time in the reborn Maybach.
If the name sparks déjà vu, no surprise. Back at the turn of the millennium, when Rolls-Royce sold to BMW and Bentley landed at Volkswagen, Daimler wanted its own super-premium brand. Rather than push upwards with Mercedes-Benz it decided to dig into German history and came up with Maybach, a brand that hadn't built a car since World War II. But it didn't build many more after its rebirth, and production was halted again in 2013. Now Daimler has decided to give it one more shot.
This time, it's playing it safe. The new S600 is officially known as a Mercedes-Maybach and, at first glance, it looks a lot like the latest S-Class. But you'll quickly realize it's eight inches longer than the Mercedes-Benz S600. And while shorter than the Maybach 57 it somehow manages to squeeze more room into the back seat—to good use, as our test vehicle featured a lavishly upholstered pair of massaging, folding, business class-style seats, complete with foot rests and tray tables. There's even a refrigerator with room for plenty of bubbly, as well as the requisite crystal flutes. Alas, the fridge swallows up a lot of trunk space, perhaps limiting you to two large golf bags and a few small carry-ons.
Should you actually prefer driving, this is no lumbering beast. It's surprisingly agile for its size, especially in Sport mode. Comfort mode activates the "magic" suspension, whereby a camera scans the road ahead to adjust the shocks to take the sting out of potholes. The Maybach is powered by the Mercedes twin-turbo, 6.0-liter V-12, with its 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque-enough to surprise the kid who might want to cut you off in a Mustang GT. One of our few complaints is that the Stop-Start system-designed to automatically shut the engine off rather than idling to save fuel-can be slow to fire back up, resulting in the occasional pregnant pause.
A full complement of the latest onboard technology includes a lane-holding system that lets you lift hands off the wheel for a few seconds. The seat-heaters even warm up the armrests. And you'll find plenty of traditional luxury cues in the exquisitely detailed leathers, woods and machine-turned metal finishes.
If we'd make any real changes it would be to distinguish the exterior, lest anyone confuse the Maybach with a plebian Mercedes S600. But once inside, whether up front or cruising in back, you'll know you've arrived long before you reach your destination. The Mercedes-Maybach S600 starts at around $190,000; our test car came in at $203,000.