Continuing the company’s tradition of the ‘Super Mercedes’, at the 32nd Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997 Daimler-Benz AG presented a foretaste of a future vehicle in the form of a study belonging to tomorrow’s premium class of luxury cars.

At that time it bore the name Mercedes-Benz Maybach. But the time of its market launch five years later, Maybach had been revived as a brand in its own right. The study, that had been created in Daimler-Benz’s Japanese design studio, was the result of extensive investigations which had been carried out amongst the intended customer group all over the world.

Some of the study’s most impressive characteristics included fully reclining seats, a bar and communication system in the rear, a luminescent band in the body at waistline height as a new design feature, a body made of sophisticated lightweight construction materials, headlamps with electronic light distribution, electro­chromic glass in the roof with colouration irrespective of sunlight, three telephone systems on board, touch-sensitive screens, suspension with Active Body Control (ABC) and a V12 engine with cylinder shut-off.

The Maybach (240 series) was be classified as a follow-on vehicle within the ‘Super Mercedes’ tradition. It presented what was technically possible and created a new benchmark for superlative-class cars.
Two Maybach models were unveiled as series-production vehicles; in July 2002 came the Maybach 62 – whose model designation was derived from its overall length, which measured 6.2 metres (to be precise: 6165 millimetres) – which offered a similar amount of space as earlier Pullman saloons. This was followed in October 2002 by the Maybach 57 (which had an overall length of 5728 millimetres).

For years the Maybach 62’s USPs included the two reclining seats in the rear and the optionally available panoramic sunroof with its electrotransparent glass and solar cells for operating the rear air conditioning when stationary, plus – making its maiden appearance in the Maybach 62 – the ability to make the roof transparent or darken it at the touch of a button. In the second of these modes 76 per cent of the incidental light was still let through. Apart from this particular roof, a conventional roof with or without a solar module, a tilting/sliding sunroof for the rear compartment with an upstream solar module and a tilting/sliding sunroof without a solar module were also available.

The glass window in the optional partition between the front and rear seats was also equipped with the electrotransparency familiar from the panoramic roof.

The reclining seats offered six different adjustment functions: head restraints’ length, height and inclination, backrest inclination up to 47 degrees, fore/aft adjustment up to 135 millimetres; length and inclination of the lower-leg support and footrest angle adjustment.

The automatic seat belts with belt tensioners, belt-force limiters and sidebags were housed in the backrest as an integral restraint system. In addition to the sidebags, the passengers were also protected by four windowbags in case of a crash. As an option the seats were available with the multicontour backrest.

The front and rear windows consisted of 6.2-millimetre-thick laminated glass, with 7.2-millimetre-thick side windows. A special film facilitated effective noise insulation through its sound-deflection properties. The grey-tinted glass filtered the UV rays and reflected the infrared light from solar radiation. This brought a 27.5-per-cent advantage over green-tinted glass for the front windows – 22 per cent for the side windows – where infrared reflection was concerned.

For climate control two completely independent systems were available.

The Maybach 57 was developed primarily for the owner-driver who appreciates a generous sense of spaciousness but does not neces­sarily require all the space provided by a vehicle that is more likely to be in the chauffeur-driven category. For this reason, up until April 2010 the multi-adjustable reclining seat was exclusively reserved for the Maybach 62.

The other technological features beneath the bodywork were the same for both models: they came in the form of the 405 kW (550 hp) V12 engine, which offered a superb torque of 900 newton metres between 2300 and 3000 rpm and transferred this power to the rear axle via an automatic five-speed transmission.
The chassis with its double-wishbone suspension at the front and the multi-link independent rear suspension was fitted with the full-support self-levelling semi-active air suspension system AIRMATIC DC. The front brake discs (with a diameter of 376 milli­metres) were gripped by two four-piston disc brakes, whilst at the rear one four-piston disc brake calliper sufficed for the 355-milli­me­tre discs.

The 275/50 R 19 tyres were worn on 8 J x 19 forged light-alloy wheels.

The modestly shaped body had an excellent cd value for such a majestic saloon: 0.31.

The testers’ opinions on the Maybach’s ride comfort and handling were unequivocal. Writing in 2002, journalist Götz Leyrer of ‘auto motor und sport’ described his impressions: ‘So as was once the case with the 600, the Maybach demonstrates convincingly what Mercedes technicians are capable of if they are let off the tight leash of cost optimisation. Ride comfort is just world-class, even creating a clear lead over the S-Class. Gently cradling, the Maybach makes the condition of the road irrelevant. The noise from the powerful tyres is reduced to a minimum.

And in 2003, Bernd Stegemann wrote in ‘auto motor und sport’s detailed test report: ‘But who will quarrel about trivialities when they are being carried through the stresses of everyday life with incomparable serenity and gentleness? There is no doubt that the comfort experience in the Maybach deserves to be rated “excellent” and again puts a proper distance between it and the S-Class. It is no one individual achievement, not space, not silence nor the comfort of the seats alone that differentiates it from the norm, but the harmonious interplay of all the factors. If there is such a thing as tangible added value, a justification for the existence for this type of car: here it is.

When it came to the interior design, testers from the Swiss ‘Automobil Revue’ had the following impression when performing a comparative test with the Rolls-Royce ‘[…] Kitsch does not prevail in either of them, but in the Swabian there is so much well-done swank in the form of the popular wood/leather steering wheel, chromed trim strips, lavish Alcantara trim and sumptuous wool panelling.

At the 75th Geneva Motor Show in March 2005 Maybach unveiled the 57 S model, to date the car with the most active driving style in the superlative segment. The enhanced V12 engine came from subsidiary AMG, which had developed this unit for the powerful special models from Mercedes-Benz. In order to increase the engine output, it was not simply a case of raising the charge pressure: the entire engine was modified and its displacement increased from 5.5 litres to 6 litres.

With the simultaneous revision and adjustment of the turbochargers and charge-air coolers, the output could now be raised to 450 kW (612 hp), the torque from 900 to 1000 newton metres. During the course of this increase in output, the suspension was also adjusted. The S model was given 275/45 R 20 tyres which were worn on special 8.5 J x 20 forged light-alloy wheel rims.

For the occasion of the International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2007, the majestic 62 model was also bestowed with the more powerful S equipment. Particularly for the long-wheelbase version, which after all weighed a good 155 kilograms more, it was not just the higher engine output that constituted a major comfort factor for an ambitious yet relaxed driving style – the higher torque was significant too.

Following on from the S models with both wheelbases, at the Geneva Motor Show in 2009 the new top versions celebrated their debut under the name Maybach Zeppelin – this was a limited edition of 100 units. For owners with an active driving style, they were characterised – with a nice historical nod to the top model of its day, the Zeppelin – by the 471 kW (640 hp), 1000-newton-metre engine, which was the most powerful Maybach engine in a passenger car to date. The ‘Zeppelin’ lettering beneath the Maybach emblem with its double-M discreetly drew attention to the most powerful and most expensive passenger car of this exclusive range. There was, however, no historical link to this logo – it was a totally new creation. The Maybach for connoisseurs was full of visual highlights that set it apart: two-tone body paintwork, and high-quality leather with diamond-pattern upholstery in the interior, discreet ‘Maybach Zeppelin’ logos and trim in high-gloss piano lacquer completed the look. In the interior the perfume atomiser was a major new feature, releasing an individual fragrance.

At the 2010 Auto China trade show in Beijing Maybach unveiled its revised models, whose exterior differs from the previous models through the more upright position for its radiator grille. The grille on the S models now has six vertical chrome rods on each side. The centre rod is wider and appears to be an integral part of the grille frame. The front apron was given modified air intakes and daytime running lamps with LED technology. At the tail end, the new generation is signalled by dark red tail lights and chrome panels running transversely above the bumper. A new feature also includes the option available to buyers of the 57 and 57 S models to select one of the rear reclining seats, which is then installed on the front-passenger side in the rear. The seats now have a different look, which is characterised by additional piping in the centre seat and backrest section. As an option, a hand-woven version of the piping is available, with four fine, individual leather strips or with valuable CrystallizedTM Swarovski Elements.

Also as an option, all models are now available with a perfume atomiser which was developed exclusively by Maybach, and which had previously only been available for the Zeppelin special model. This equipment detail is a very special highlight. At the press of a button it produces a unique fragrant experience in the interior, through the use of sophisticated technology and fine scent. At the heart of the system lies a plexiglass sphere illuminated from within to which the Maybach owner can add a flacon containing their own personally selected perfume. A compressor sends a gentle flow of air into the plexiglass sphere and fans perfume molecules from the flacon into the car’s interior.

As an optional extra, the vehicles are available with a partition featuring a 19-inch screen and an overview camera. This enables the passengers in the rear to observe the traffic even through the non-transparent partition. Internet access comes courtesy of a WLAN router.

Although the engine output for the S models was raised to 463 kW (630 hp), carbon dioxide emissions are down from 390 to 368 grams per kilometre. And for the other models with 405 kW (550 hp) the carbon dioxide emissions have also been cut: from 383 to 350 grams per kilometre.

Source: Daimler AG