Mercedes-Benz, justifiably renowned for building luxurious and advanced vehicles for going on 140 years, recently announced it will trim its lineup radically, dropping "low-margin" vehicles so it could concentrate on developing expensive new technologies, primarily electric vehicles.
This was a classic example of corporate victim-blaming. Mercedes didn’t add those vehicles — the compact A-class sedan is exhibit A, as it were — out of charity, from a sense that the underpaid masses deserved a taste of luxury.
Mercedes built those soon-to-be departed cars and SUVs because it thought buyers would be blinded by the three-pointed star and pay loads more for a compact Mercedes than one from a lesser brand. They wouldn’t, or at least not as many would as MB’s strategists had expected.
In response, and because developing and building a generation of EVs really is fantastically expensive, Mercedes is pruning the lower limbs of its lineup, and hanging every decoration it can find on the high branches.
Which leads us to the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S580 S580 4Matic. (Don’t ask what happened to Uncle Karl Benz. We don’t talk about him any more.)
What makes it a Maybach?
A gleaming two-tone limousine that starts at $184,900 and can brush a quarter-mill without breaking an exquisitely lacquered fingernail, the Maybach is for people who think a mere Mercedes S-class isn’t good enough, a luxury cruiser with its eye on the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
The Maybach shares its general shape and platform with the “base” S500 4Matic, an embarrassment to its more successful siblings that starts at just $111,100. All prices exclude $1,050 destination charge. A meaningful sum to you and me, that’s tip money for the groom in the Maybach’s neighborhood.
The Maybach name dates to 1909, when it built engines for Zeppelins. The company branched out into high-end luxury cars in 1919.
Daimler-Benz — we don’t talk about cousin Gottlieb Daimler anymore, either; people come and go so quickly here — acquired Maybach’s assets in 1960, using them to build special editions that were sold under the Mercedes-Benz banner.
Mercedes briefly revived Maybach as a stand-alone brand in 1997 with a couple of big and expensive sedans that strove for a retro-luxury look but achieved an angular origami oddity. The name disappeared for a few years, being revived as a new, more exclusive version of the already exclusive Mercedes S-class in 2015.
What makes it special?
The Maybach S580 is 7.1 inches longer than a regular Mercedes S-class. All the extra length goes into the cavernous rear seat, which features power footrests, wooden seat back tables and much more.
Power comes from a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 gasoline engine that produces 496 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque. An electric integrated starter motor functions as a mild hybrid, briefly boosting power 21 hp and 184 pound-feet, the equivalent of a race car’s "push to pass."
Vehement passing, however, is nearly the diametric opposite of what the Maybach’s about. The entire vehicle is built around giving its rear-seat occupants a smooth, silent and swift journey. Its customizable drive modes include a chauffeur setting that uses second-gear starts and other tricks to make acceleration to be as imperceptible and devoid of shift points as an escalator.
Don’t mistake the Maybach’s smoothness for sloth. Mercedes quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.
A nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard.
The standard air suspension offers optional sensors to detect curves and irregularities in the road surface.
Rear steering reduces the turning radius a full 7 feet and increases stability at highway speeds. The front steering ratio is more direct to complement that greater responsiveness.
Safety and driver-assist features include:
Adaptive cruise control, with route-based reduction in speed for curves, tolls, etc.
Blind spot assist
Lane keeping and change assist
Distracted driver emergency stop
Cross traffic alert with active brake assist
Map and sign-based active speed limit assist to slow the car
Active parallel and perpendicular parking assist
Imminent-impact alert to prepare ear drums for the noise of a collision
I tested a well-equipped — that seems redundant, doesn’t it? — 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S580 4Matic that stickered at $226,850. Options included two-tone Obsidian Black and Diamond White paint; black Nappa leather; piano lacquer black interior trim with inlaid aluminum strips; rear-seat refrigerator and champagne flutes; foam-lined noise reducing tires; adaptive, road-sensing air suspension; soft-closing electric-assisted rear doors, and 20-inch forged wheels — which, oddly, looked like old-fashioned hubcaps to me.
Mercedes plans to add an even more opulent and expensive Maybach S680 later this year.
Prices aren’t available, but it will showcase a 6.0L bi-turbo V12 producing 621 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque.
Interior luxury and features
The S580’s passenger compartment is all about the rear passengers, but the front seat ain’t bad. It has standard features, including massaging heated and cooled seats, high-definition 12.8-inch touch screen and 12.3-inch configurable 3D instrument cluster.
The Burmeister audio system features 30 speakers and up to 1,750 watts. The sound can be customized for each seat.
Mercedes’ virtual assistant functions well, except for a tendency to butt in responding to comments that weren’t "Hey Mercedes …" commands. Wireless charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all functional smoothly.
Active road noise cancellation and available foam-filled tires contribute to a silent passenger compartment.
Available rear-seat features include:
Custom champagne flutes
Two bucket seats separated by a console
Folding wooden tables
The trunk is surprisingly small for such a large and luxurious vehicle: 12.3 cubic feet — smaller than a Nissan Versa subcompact sedan. Perhaps oligarchs’ luggage travels in the support vehicles.
Available two-tone paint combinations include:
Selenite Grey Upper / Obsidian Black Lower
Rubellite Red Upper / Obsidian Black Lower
Obsidian Black Upper / Designo Diamond White Lower
Cirrus Silver Upper / Emerald Green Lower
Kalahari Gold Upper / Rubellite Red Lower
Cirrus Silver Upper / Nautical Blue Lower
Onyx Black Upper / Mojave Silver Lower
Selenite Grey Upper / Cirrus Silver Lower
Kalahari Gold Upper / Onyx Black Lower
Cirrus Silver Upper / Obsidian Black Lower
2022 Mercedes-Maybach S580 4Matic at a glance
Base price: $184,900 (all prices exclude destination charge)
All-wheel drive 5- or 4-passenger luxury sedan
On sale now
Specifications as tested:
Price as tested: $227,600
Engine: 4.0L bi-turbo V8
Output: 496 hp; 516 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy estimate: 15 mpg city/24xx highway/18 combined. Premium gasoline.
EPA estimated annual fuel cost: $3,750
0-60 time: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Wheelbase: 133.7 inches
Length: 215.3 inches
Width: 83 inches (with mirrors)
Height: 59.3 inches
Passenger volume: 127.8 cubic feet
Cargo volume: 12.3 cubic feet
Curb weight: 5,247 pounds
Assembled in Sindelfingen, Germany
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 2022 Maybach S580 is the car for when a mere Mercedes won’t do