First Drive: 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S580
For the "low end" of ultra-luxury, it sure feels like it has it all.
The crisp autumn air of a wet September morning would normally make you grab a nice book off the shelf, curl up on the couch, and listen to the ambient downpour from the nearest window as you get lost in the tale of that touching romance novel. If you're someone who's a bit restless however, a little bit of rain won't keep you from hitting the road, and with an ultra-luxury sedan, you might not need to compromise the comfort of staying in.
- Photos by Ammad Quraishi / @AmmadQuraishi
This is the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S580, and with a starting price of $184,900, you can begin to understand why it compares to a home. Sure, it may only be the size of a comparable New York City studio apartment—measuring in at 215.3-inches in length, 59.4-inches high, and 75.6-inches wide (excluding mirrors. Granted, while it lacks the basic amenities like a place to relieve oneself or even cook, it does come on a set of four 20-in Maybach Exclusive Forged wheels, spaced 133.7-inches front to back, that when paired with its chassis give you a ride so smooth, you'll feel like you're gliding on air, yet close to the ground.
Engine and Performance
Under the hood is a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 churning out 496 horsepower with 516 lb-ft of torque. You'll get an additional 21 horsepower boost with its supplementary 48-volt EQ Boost battery. Now I'm not sure how much that battery really adds to the power, but from my experience behind the wheel, Mercedes was not wrong about it serving its purpose in smoothing out torque on acceleration. Getting from zero to 60 in just shy of 5 seconds on those wet conditions didn't even give the sensation of dipping the car back or struggling with a wet road. A linear, whisper quiet ride the whole way around thanks to the adaptive, self-leveling independent multilink AIRMATIC suspension, with an active noise cancelling system.
Inside the Cabin in these Woods
Opening the doors of the Maybach S580 for the first time can be daunting for someone who otherwise experiences more wallet-friendly cars, but Mercedes' focus on comfort has a way to calm even the nerves of a canine terrified of his own shadow. From its low-pitched, low-decibel door latch to the shudder-averting soft-close doors, stepping into the cabin becomes a quiet and gracious experience.
On the two-toned, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, you have a set of capacitive touch 'buttons', which are an adjustment for fingers accustomed to physically pressing or scrolling inputs on the steering. The learning curve here is not steep and remains so for gear selecting via the stalk on the right hand side of the wheel.
Behind the wheel, you're presented with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and the latest MBUX 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen on the center console to your right as your infotainment system. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to play around with it, but its visual integration with the dashboard makes it almost seem absent, giving you more of an opportunity to focus your attention cruising along the road. Standard is an augmented reality navigation system that broadcasts the front facing camera with easy-to-follow directions on the infotainment screen, and sans the camera view on the head-up display. While it is a convenient feature to have, I found the AR-HUD to be a bit visually off-putting in my brief time with it, but perhaps I am just not used to the luxury. I'm sure with another pass at it, my eyes may be able to adjust accordingly.
A small array of manual vents sit right above the infotainment with another set next to the door on either side of the driver and passenger, all integrated on the dash, making changing the direction of air flow a breeze, without having to divert your attention to the infotainment. Yet, your eyes may certainly be caught by the 64-color option ambient lighting on the dash and door panels, if not by the Black Piano Lacquer "Flowing Lines" trim piece stretching the length of the dash. Piano black finishes may imbue a nice sense of minimalism, but personally, I'd prefer wood grain finishes.
The interior features a high quality set of diamond-pattern double-seam stitched Machiatto Beige Nappa leather seats with Bronze Brown Pearl piping, offering heating (and ventilation in the front) with massage and four-position memory. In our tested model, the optional $6,000 Executive Rear Seat Plus package reduced the standard 5 seat array to a 4-seat reclining array, designed for the buyers who intend to be chauffeured. It also comes with rear-seat folding tables, a longer center console, and cup holders with temperature control. For an additional $1,100 you'll even get a rear-cabin refrigerator with champagne flutes.
For now, I'll reserve judgment on what it's like to be a rear-seat passenger in this sedan given that I haven't had the opportunity, but in time I hope to receive that opportunity.
It would be impossible to detail all that comes standard in this car without drying out your eyes reading this piece, so we'll reserve some of that mystery for Mercedes' website to solve.
A Lasting Impression
Earlier I mentioned that this car makes you feel like you're gliding on air, and that it gives you a whisper quiet ride. I still stand by that. The moment you put it into drive, the electronic seatbelt pretensioners kick in pulling you back in your seat as if to say, "Sir, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride." And that is exactly what you do. Calmly throttle the pedal and accelerate gently off the line immersed in an experience so comfortable that you somewhat forget you're operating a car.
But get it onto the winding roads of the lower Hudson Valley and you remember once again. The Maybach S580 doesn't shy away from giving a performance. Adjustable power steering fine tunes the steering and suspension to your taste—which may be lighter and softer for the comfort-oriented or heavier and stiffer for the performance-driven.
Its assisted rear-wheel steering reduces its turning radius, in spite of possessing such a long wheelbase, and that gives you added benefits when rounding sharper corners at higher speeds. Not once do you feel the inertia when rounding a turn, but instead you're firmly planted in your seat, surrounded by the soft, supple leather, giving you an almost detached driving experience, without for a moment wondering if you're in control.
"Leave your worries of the road out on the road, and focus on yourself enjoying the view, enjoying the ride," this Maybach says to me in my delusions.
It's a car that will make you stop for a moment and reflect on all the life decisions that have kept you from this level of daily comfort. In my case, deterring from the route of becoming a doctor to instead pursue what I'm doing right now—experiencing only glimpses of luxury living behind the wheel of this Mercedes-Maybach S580.