Premiering last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the latest revival of its super-luxury division, Maybach, in a new dual-branded sedan, the Mercedes-Maybach S600.
Introducing the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz board member, Ola Kńllenius said, "The history of prestige vehicles made by Daimler (Mercedes-Benz parent company) extends back to the earliest days of the motorcar; we have now commenced a new chapter with the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class [...] As an addition to the portfolio of S-Class sedans, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sets new standards in the luxury segment. The vehicle satisfies the very highest requirements in terms of exclusivity, appointments and comfort."
The Roots of Maybach
Pre-World War II, Maybach existed as an individual entity, producing an extremely limited number of high-end luxury cars, but imminent wartime demand forced the niche automaker to switch production to tank engines - a necessary switch at the time though it would ultimately lead to the company's collapse.
It wasn't until 1960, following the purchase of what little remained of the company by Mercedes-Benz, that the Maybach engineers once again saw themselves handcrafting luxury cars, though production was limited and few and far between. Again in 1997, Mercedes-Benz launched a full scale re-vamp of the Maybach brand, debuting multiple models at the Tokyo Motorshow, attempting to resurrect Maybach as their premier luxury line.
Beginning in 2003, Maybach saw a minor increase in popularity, due mostly in part to celebrity and social-elite co-signs. Unfortunately, by 2010 the brand's appeal had all but fizzled out, forcing Mercedes to again cease production of their high-end luxury line.
Maybach Resurrection - Round Two
Though production was briefly shelved in 2010 after dismal sales records, Mercedes-Benz is bringing back its most elite offering, the Maybach. Enter the 2013 Mercedes-Maybach S600, Mercedes' latest attempt at resurrecting the once-mighty nameplate.
Scheduled to hit the market in April 2015, the new S600 will cost about $200,000, a favorable price decline in comparison to Maybach's mid-2000 offerings that on average would exceed the $400,000 range. It seems to be the hope of Mercedes-Benz to offer the S600 as competition to both Bentley and Rolls Royce - the two automakers that dominate the "pinnacle of luxury" marketplace.
Fundamentally, the Maybach-Mercedes S-Class is a slightly upgraded form of the "regular" S600, the most notable exterior difference being the 8-inch stretch in car length.
Despite the current Maybach sub-brand focusing primarily on opulence and luxury, and the AMG sub-brand focusing primarily on performance, the new Maybach-Mercedes S600 is far from a gutless limousine-cruiser - under the hood a twin-turbo, 6-liter V12 idles ferociously, eager to unleash all 523 brake horsepower, and 612 foot-pounds of torque.
The Maybach-Mercedes S600 will be the first of many more Maybach releases scheduled by Mercedes-Benz, though no further information about upcoming releases has been provided, leaving all of us to wonder if the once-prestigious luxury brand has what it takes to mark its place in history as one of the greats, or again be forgotten.