Two reviews (UK papers, different journalists). Get an S500 or S600 instead
and have change for a Ferrari and an ice cream...
2) Sunday Times
Maybach 57 S
By Stuart Birch of The Times
Our correspondent is transported to another world during a run
in a £289,000 car
It was the first part of Maybach's Christmas invitation to drive
its high-performance and very high-price 57 S that concerned me: check in by
midday at Luton Airport. Could this be a bring-your-own-grub flight, crushed
into a middle seat between two candidates for Desperate Dieting and with the
circulation of my blood, or lack of it, making a medically interesting item
in The Lancet?
No, the Maybach world is not like that. My instructions told me
to drive past the main terminal and head for the Harrods Business Aviation
Terminal, a place of enveloping calm and courtesy. In a trice, my car had
been parked for me, I was checked in and a cup of coffee and biscuit were in
Just a few yards away waited the Airbus corporate jet that was
to whisk me from the grey winter skies of England to sunny Málaga to meet
the new £289,090, V12, six-litre Mercedes AMG-engined 57 S. Not a
head-ducking business jet this but a full-size A319 airliner with a couple
of private lounges, each with swivelling seats, a dining table, divans that
convert into double beds and the sort of cabin service that is more in the
And this Christmas treat got better. At Málaga airport, a
long-wheelbase Maybach 62 limo (£298,925) was waiting. I relaxed in its
air-conditioned back seat, stretched out my legs but could not quite touch
the front seat, pushed a button to close the power-assisted side window
curtains and was driven very quickly to the Marbella Club Hotel.
For me, all this was quite extraordinary; for Maybach man - and
woman - it could all be in a day's travel. But they might not experience
seeing how their luxurious and almost fearsomely quick 57 S tackles a race
On paper, the car's specification does appear to be the stuff of
motor sport: nought to 62mph in five seconds; top speed of more than 170mph
with the electronic limiter at work - probably nearer 200mph without it;
suspension stiffened and lowered 15mm compared with the regular 57mm, beefy
anti-roll bars and Michelin tyres developed specially for the car.
But there are two other figures to consider: the Maybach 57 S is
18ft 9in long and weighs 2.75 tonnes. Which is why Alexander Ender, the
Maybach chief chassis engineer, did the driving, with me sitting awestruck
alongside him as we thundered at up to 125mph between the 26 corners of the
five kilometre-long Race Resort Ascari track high in the mountains near
Ronda, the laws of physics doing their best to hurl the car into the rough.
Thankfully, the combination of Ender's skill and a plethora of electronics
kept us on the tarmac.
"This is not a race car but we wanted to build a more dynamic
Maybach with all the features of comfort and quality of our other models,"
he said as the hefty Maybach howled and hurtled onwards for lap after lap.
"The Ascari track shows what we have achieved. The ESP [electronic stability
programme] doesn't interfere too much, but always comes to the rescue if
On the road, too, the 57 S is a convincingly rapid mover,
sweeping past slower traffic with total authority. Its steering is a little
vague but it is surprisingly nimble.
It is a car that is always the centre of attention - despite
styling subdued to the point of aesthetic indifference - whether it is
waiting at a pedestrian crossing or motoring along, with other drivers
looking askance at its shiny presence. The Maybach is lavishly equipped with
optional extras including family crests and the owner's initials. You can
have ghastly gold trim instead of chrome, too. Despite these lapses, the 57
S is generally all good taste and craftsmanship. Each engine is individually
assembled by one technician and signed by him, and the car's interior decor
includes piano lacquer and real carbon fibre.
For more than 99 per cent of the population, owning the
powerful, lavishly-equipped Maybach 57 S is unthinkable and absurd. And the
likelihood of its being driven to its full capacity unlikely.
But in the rarefied upper monetary stratosphere in which a very
few people dwell, the mere existence of the 57 S, with its price, power and
quality, is reason enough to own, to drive, be driven and seen in it.
SHOPPING GUIDE CHRISTMAS GIFTS
EVEN with the Christmas credit card in hand, it is difficult to
spend more than the £289,090 cost of a Maybach 57 S unless you buy another
Maybach - the £298,925 long wheelbase 62 limousine. But here is our guide to
where to start if you want power - and a comfy four seats - at a price with
cash left over for some extra presents.
Incredibly, a cheaper option at a mere £256,000. The change
would buy a turkey the size of Hampshire.
Truly elegant and a snip at £180,000, which leaves lots left
over for sherry and mince pies, unless you raid the options list. One buyer
wanted chilled running water in the car - a tank and tap were fitted.
Mercedes-Benz S600 Limousine
One of the Maybach's below-the-salt relatives costing just
£98,270 without options, maybe £120,000 with everything, but get the butler
to drive it.
At £82,925, this is positively working class to the Maybach clan
and even grabbing every extra in the catalogue mught bump up the price to a
mere £100,000, about a third of a Maybach limo.
Audi A8 6.0
A paltry £75,000, but its comprehensive options list (including
a door panel-mounted cigar cutter) takes the potential price to £115,000.
Del Boy territory for Maybach owners, though.
Jaguar XJ Super LW
In terms of price like comparing Woolworths to Harrods, yet the
long wheelbase Jag's £74,995 represents best value for money of the lot, to
the extent that even Scrooge would raise a smile on Christmas morning if he
found one of these in his stocking
2) Sunday Times:
Maybach 57 S
By Andrew Frankel of The Sunday Times
What a superb waste of money
In all my years doing this job, I don't think I have seen
anything more sinister than seven Maybach 57S limousines hauling down a
motorway in convoy at a steady, silent 100mph. I was in the middle, three
ahead and three behind, and couldn't help feeling a little like a Russian
businessman. After all, who else, royalty included, would spend £2m on seven
cars? It may be that the emergence of money from the former Soviet bloc will
yet come to the rescue of the struggling Mercedes luxury brand. Launched in
2002, it was claimed that production of the Maybach range - which now
includes the 57, 57S and 62 - would be limited to about 1,000 cars per year,
a figure that seemed low at the time but now ludicrously over-optimistic.
Not long before we drove the 57S an edict was issued by head
office ordering staff not to discuss Maybach sales, although one did bravely
venture that if I speculated they were selling no more than half that
original number "you would not be hearing from our legal department".
It's not hard to see why. In traditional markets such as the UK
and Germany, the ostentatious wealth statement on wheels is passé; so while
there may be thousands of people capable of spending £256,465 on the Maybach
57 or even £289,090 on the 57S, few feel inclined to do so.
Which brings us to this, the Maybach 57S. Having made the brand
as luxurious as possible, attention has been turned to making it as fast as
possible. Some might think the old 542bhp 5.5 litre twin-turbo V12 engine
was hardly lacking in steam, but now we have a 6 litre version pumping out
612bhp. It's enough to pick up this 2.7 ton car and hurl it to 62mph in 5sec
flat and on to a top speed that would doubtless be past 200mph were it not
limited to a scarcely more sensible 171mph. It has stiffened suspension and
bigger tyres with some subtle styling enhancements that improve the look of
the car without making it in any way attractive.
Part of me wants to damn this car for its needless profligacy,
its dubious taste and, above all, its price. A Bentley Continental Flying
Spur is just as quick, feels no less luxurious and has a badge that stinks
of prestige, yet at £115,000 it costs £174,090 less. So you could have the
Bentley, a new Ferrari F430 and still have more than £50,000 left in the
bank. The Maybach argument is that anyone considering one of its cars will
already have a Ferrari and a Bentley, so the comparison is never made. My
argument is that the car is still too damn expensive.
But then, when I recall sweeping across southern Spain at the
helm and in the passenger seat, there were things about it that were hard to
forget. There was the silken punch of the mighty V12, its bizarre agility in
corners given its size and weight, its astonishing ride quality and the
hushed silence of its interior. Maybach described the car as the most
sporting luxury saloon in the world, which got me giggling until I drove it.
This is an exquisitely engineered car.
Does that make it worth the money? Of course not. Two days after
stepping from the Maybach 57S I drove a new Mercedes S-class, a car that
makes all other luxury cars feel outdated. In S 500 form it is scarcely
slower than the Maybach, and with a long-wheelbase body it is hardly less
spacious, either. It has seven gears instead of five, a dazzling array of
technology and the most sophisticated seats it has been my backside's
pleasure to occupy. Yet its price is less than a quarter of the Maybach
Nothing I've driven makes the Maybach seem more pointless than this.
Then again, I profile about as closely to a Maybach customer as
our prime minister does to a traditional Labour voter, so perhaps I just
understand the buyer's mind. Of one thing, however, I am certain. When it
comes to telling the world how many millions you have, there's nothing
better on the road. How much must you have to blow £300,000 on one of these?
Model Maybach 57S
Engine type 5980cc, 12 cylinders
Power/Torque 612bhp @ 4800rpm / 737 lb ft @ 2000rpm
Transmission Five-speed automatic
Fuel/CO2 16.4mpg (combined) / n/a
Performance 0-62mph: 5sec / Top speed: 171mph
Verdict Looks better in Red Square than Eaton Square
Model Rolls-Royce Phantom £216,950
For Beautifully engineered, ride quality, sense of occasion
Against If you can live with the looks, only a little too much
Model Bentley Continental Flying Spur £115,000
For Terrific interior, great speed and space, good value
Against Looks, ride and refinement not best in class
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling