Home » Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: First class in (almost) every way

Sunday Drive by Hormazd Sorabjee: First class in (almost) every way

by thesquadron.in
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Mercedes-Benz claims their S-Class is and has been the best car for generations. Now it wants to take its self-proclaimed moniker to the next level. So, what can be better than the best? It’s the Mercedes Maybach S 580 which is all the S-Class is and more. But is that enough to justify a 60 per cent price mark up?

Shining bright

It doesn’t look very different from a regular S-Class but owners may want to shout they are in a Merc and not the ‘plebian’ S-Class. And shout out the Maybach does. Loudly. I counted as many as 14 Maybach logos, inside and outside, and none of them is subtle. Even the pedals have the Maybach logo prominently embossed on them. You’ll still find the three-pointed star emblem on the bonnet and boot, but the Maybach logo is stamped on the rear pillar, boot lid and chrome grille. Chrome? There’s an overdose of it which, again, is just what owners love.

If the S-Class is fit for a king, the Maybach is for an emperor. It’s a full 180mm longer and a massive 5.5 metres long. The yacht-like length means the unenviable task of parking the car will be no doubt be left to the chauffeur. But parking is not as much of a challenge as you think it is, thanks to some clever tech. The rear wheels steer too whilst parking, which dramatically shortens the turning circle for better manoeuvrability.

Upgrade plus

It’s inside the Maybach’s opulent cabin that you can see where that extra money has gone. It’s an upgrade from business to first class. The ‘chauffeur package’ lets you fold the front passenger seat forward and, like in the previous Maybach, the seats recline like lounge chairs by 43.5 degrees. You can even have your calves massaged!

Entering the back seat is an event, with motorised rear doors that can be controlled with a single switch, or from the front touchscreen. There’s also a gimmicky gesture control which lets you close the doors with a ‘Royal Wave’.

You can celebrate Diwali inside the cabin with a wide spectrum of colourful lights, thanks to the most sophisticated lighting package we’ve experienced in a car. You can keep the hues subdued or go OTT with multiple bright colours.

The car has an opulent cabin that drips quality

The cabin drips quality and it’s impossible to find an inferior bit of trim. The only annoying thing is that the touch-sensitive steering controls don’t respond easily and are fiddly to use.

Like with the S-Class, you are surrounded by digital screens and there’s not a single old-fashioned dial to be seen. The highlight is the portrait-oriented 12.8-inch central touchscreen which has super sharp graphics, is quick to respond and intuitive to use. The only issue is that it has gobbled up too many basic functions that should have been physical buttons. Everything, from the air con controls to lifting the car for big speed breakers, is only accessible via the screen.

The ‘screenification’ continues at the back where there are two screens for each passenger and a small Samsung tablet in the central armrest which controls all the functions.

Bubble on wheels

What hits you first when you drive off in the Maybach is the tomb-like silence. Refinement levels are astonishingly high and the double-glazed windows seal you off from the outside world.

The 503hp 4.0 litre V8 can barely be heard and it’s only when you rev the engine hard for an aggressive overtake that you hear a murmur from under the hood. In fact, the velvet smooth engine masks the impressive performance. This car is no slouch and it glides past traffic effortlessly.

For those who can afford it, the Maybach is a haven on wheels, a place to relax or plan your next IPO on the move.

The views expressed by the columnist are personal

From HT Brunch, April 3, 2022

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