In a move that will astonish many, Maybach has decided to build the Laundalet convertible limo concept that we saw at the Detroit motor show last month. And Mercedes’ luxury marque intends to charge an absolutely staggering £680,000 for its most opulent model yet. For many it will seem a difficult move to understand given the negative reaction the topless Laundalet concept received in Detroit, where many observers described it as 'vulgar'. Its unconventional design harks back to luxury cars of the fifties, with the rear section of the 62S-based cruiser opening hydraulically so that all and sundry can see the wealthy owner lounging within. Maybach insists that this, its fifth model, is a “masterpiece of automotive engineering” and has “distinguished, authentic style”. And besides, the premium marque is not trying to impress average consumers. This is a car aimed squarely at the decadent super rich; think Russian oligarchs, Arabian oil barons and African dictators. And although that exposed rear cabin may look like a dissident sniper assassin’s dream, this is a luxury car to be driven in.
Behind the wheel
If a Landaulet’s stately owner ever decided to enter what Maybach describes as “the chauffeur’s workplace” he’d find himself surrounded by a premium, leather-trimmed, bespoke cabin with a piano black lacquer or carbon fibre dash finish. Underneath his right foot, 612bhp will be on offer courtesy of the tuned up, twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 Mercedes engine from the 62S. Maybach also claims that air suspension and an Adaptive Damping System ensures a first class ride and makes the massive Landaulet surprisingly agile too.
How does the roof work?
A switch drops the fully automatic, and huge, rear cabin roof onto the rear parcel shelf of the car, before your chaffeur goes to wrap it up in a leather tonneau cover. The fine leather’s embroided with the words ‘Maybach Landaulet’ positioned just so that they are visible to following traffic. This, says Maybach, “completes the picture of outstanding elegance”.
What’s it like in the back?
In the opulent rear of the Landaulet passengers recline in deep seats finished with Grand Nappa leather and can enjoy an unbroken view of the sky above. There’s even a special wind-shielded intercom allowing them to talk to the driver. Luxury yacht-like cabin fixtures and fittings are similar to the standard Maybach 62S’s, but the Landaulet has also been kitted out for open-top motoring with larger head restraints and a rising wind deflector to reduce wind turbulence at speeds above 43mph. As with the 62S limo, Maybach will cater for almost any taste with a wide selection of high-quality materials, colours and personalisation options available when the car’s specified.
Is anyone really going to spend £680k on a convertible limo?
Mercedes obviously thinks there’s a market - perhaps most prominently with buyers in the oil-rich Middle East and brash billionaires in America. The company claims that, in a recent survey of 531 US millionaires, Maybach was voted the most prestigious car brand. But it’s been underperforming in Europe, posting a relatively small number of new registrations, and faces stiff competition for wealthy buyers from the likes of Rolls-Royce. In fact, Rolls’ wonderful Phantom Drophead Coupe seems an utter bargain compared with this Landaulet, costing just £260k, or less than half the price.