If you set out to create the world's safest, most comfortable and technologically advanced car and started with a blank sheet of paper, the finished product might bear a striking resemblance to the Mercedes Benz S Class.
However, imagine what the same car would look like if the starting point was the aforementioned Mercedes. Well thanks to the company doing just that, imagining is completely unnecessary.
The result is the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 and it's a car that wants to be a serious alternative to the Rolls-Royce Ghost or Bentley Flying Spur in terms of performance, luxury, quality and exclusivity.
Unveiled simultaneously in Los Angeles and Guangzhou, China, the car stretches 5.4 meters from nose to tail. It is seriously long. But then it needs to be because the Maybach is all about being driven, not about driving. Mercedes expects every Maybach it sells to be chauffeur-driven and everything that makes this car special, exclusive and appealing is focused on the rear-seat occupants.
It might have a 6-liter bi-turbo V12 engine under its hood, but none of that roar will penetrate the cabin. Mercedes claims that for rear-seat passengers, the car is the quietest in the world. And that is crucial. The average owner will be using the car as a place to conduct on-the-fly meetings, get some work done and get some rest. Productivity is enhanced by foldaway tables and rear-passenger multimedia screens and a wi-fi hotspot.
Communication is simplified thanks to special voice amplification technology so that you'll never need to raise your voice in order to be heard, whether instructing the driver or chatting to a fellow passenger.
Adding to the sense of calm and comfort are rear seats that wouldn't look out of place in Business Class on a long-haul flight. They don't just recline, they do so with calf support and each element of the seat can be adjusted individually. When it's time to catch up on sleep, the front passenger seat can be moved forward and folded up so that the rear seat can recline almost flat.
But that's just the start. The Maybach has its own specially created interior perfume for fragrancing the cabin and the bar carries two silver-plated handcrafted champagne flutes for toasting business deals and for an aperitif on the way to the opera.
The interior is awash with leather and wood as standard but just like a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley can be personalized to suit individual tastes.
"Perfection down to the last detail and a new dimension in seating and resting comfort for the rear passengers are the hallmarks of the new Mercedes-Maybach," said Professor Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development as the car was unveiled at the LA Auto Show. "Our exceptionally successful new S-Class already defines the pinnacle of automotive engineering in a host of technical disciplines such as safety, efficiency, climate control and noise characteristics. The Mercedes-Maybach now sets the benchmark in the luxury segment even higher."
The Maybach will go on sale in February and Mercedes expects most models to be ordered by US and Chinese clients.