There are luxury car makers, and then there’s Maybach – the Mercedes-Benz offshoot that has Rolls-Royce firmly in its sights with its Maybach 57 luxury saloon.

The 57, which refers to its 5.73m length. is the most popular Maybach model. It’s one of the world’s most luxurious cars. In fact, only the Rolls-Royce Phantom comes close. It can carry a driver, front passenger and up to three rear passengers on a serene, silent and spacious journey.

European editor
Both 57s pack more than 600bhp

There’s a 5.5-litre version and a 6.0-litre S. Both have V12 engines. Both are incredibly fast, given their 2.7-tonne kerb weight. At 604bhp, the 57 S achieves 61bhp more than the standard 57, thanks to the twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 from the Mercedes S65 AMG.

Incredibly, it is not so much the engine’s massive power that gives the 57 S its character, more the endless reserve of torque, which swells to 738lb ft at just 2000rpm to provide the Maybach with devastating off-the-line and in-gear acceleration.

Although it carries a vast array of electronic driving aids, the 57 S’s engine has more than enough low-end grunt to make the otherwise dignified Maybach light up its rear tyres. Before you do, however, you’ll want to select the five-speed automatic transmission’s manual mode for more rapid shifts and dial up the second of two sport settings for the air suspension to keep body movements reined in.

Despite tipping the scales at a 2735kg, the 57 S is capable of hitting 62mph from rest in 5.0sec and powering from 50mph-75mph in a crushingly rapid 3.7sec. Top speed is limited to 171mph, although there’s little doubt that it would haul beyond 200mph when left to its own devices.

For all the straight-line heroics, the 57 S can’t bend the laws of physics. On winding roads, its size and weight limit the scope of the performance, although it is more responsive and eager than the standard 57 in tight corners.

Among the measures taken to tie the faster Maybach down are a suspension lowered by 15mm, firmer springs and dampers, and beefed-up anti-roll bars. Also included are 20-inch wheels with 275/40 tyres.

Despite the Maybach’s creature comforts, vast interior space and time-warp acceleration, at £290k you might be better off with the new S500 LWB or an SL55 AMG. Then again, if you can afford the Maybach, you’d probably have all three.