This saloon also heralds the sensational return of Maybach, which was written off by parent company Daimler after a troubled 10-year comeback.
This time, however, Maybach is a sub-brand that will sit within the Mercedes-Benz fold in much the same way as the Mercedes-AMG performance division does.
Company chiefs expect Maybach to exploit the growing customer desire for high-margin luxury vehicles in much the same way that AMG is sprinkling its go-faster stardust on an increasingly broad range of vehicles.
Mercedes sales and marketing chief Ola Källenius, who was boss of AMG between 2010 and 2013, said: “Mercedes-AMG is the blueprint for the extension of our brand. More than 40,000 AMG cars will be sold during 2014 and it is a great ‘co-pilot’ for Mercedes-Benz.
“With Mercedes-Maybach, we are applying the same
logic as Mercedes-AMG,
but in the area of prestige
and exclusivity. It is not
an equipment line; it is a
sub-brand that, in future, will deliver Mercedes-Benz vehicles in an even more exclusive form.”
Källenius confirmed that the S600 won’t be the sub-brand’s only offering. “Our deliberations in the area of Mercedes-Maybach are not focused solely on the S-class,” he said, but he wouldn’t be drawn on other future models.
However, the crucial factor is retaining exclusivity, so
the new sub-brand will be involved with cars at only the premium end of Mercedes’ vast model range.
There isn’t, for example, business case to produce a Mercedes-Maybach version of the A-class, something that AMG has executed with great aplomb with the A45 AMG
“It’s relatively easy to do a Mercedes-AMG version of the A-class, but we will only do Maybachs when we see the potential in the market and when our customers expect it,” said Källenius.
The Mercedes-Maybach S600 is differentiated from other S-class models by a series of subtle exterior styling details, including a more stately style of grille and lengthened rear doors.
Inside, the new model has a freshly designed interior with individual, electronically adjustable rear seats similar to those used by the earlier Maybach 57 and 62.
Power for the Mercedes-Maybach S600 hails from a revised version of the company’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12, produced at AMG. The car will be produced on the same production line as the regular S-class in Sindelfingen, Germany. This will be the only variant destined for the UK and sales start next spring.
Key markets for the sub-brand’s first products will be China and the US, followed by South Korea, Russia and the Middle East. Two further engine variants will be offered in other markets. The S500 will be powered by a twin-turbo V8. The all-wheel-drive S500 4Matic has a V6 engine and is aimed squarely at the Chinese market. A version using a hybrid powertrain isn’t currently planned, but Källenius didn’t rule it out.”
The range-topping saloon forms the basis of a larger S600 Pullman model that
has an even longer wheelbase and seating for up to six.
Q&A Ola Källenius, executive vice-president, sales and marketing
Are you confident of sufficient demand for this type of vehicle when there wasn’t for Maybach?
It is clear where additional scope for expansion lies at our company: in the areas of exclusivity and individuality. We have received quite clear signals from many customers who have expressed a wish to drive the S-class in a supremely exclusive, individual variant.
What differentiates Mercedes-Maybach models from their standard counterparts?
On a technical level, the first model of the new sub-brand is virtually identical to the Mercedes-Benz S600, [but] vehicles from Mercedes-Maybach feature exclusive equipment and appointments that go beyond the spectrum available from Mercedes-Benz.
Does it send out a strange message to revive the Maybach name so soon after axing the stand-alone brand?
When we launched the current generation of S-class, we said we’d find a haven for Maybach customers. That promise has now been kept with this S600 and new Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand.
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