2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class First Look: Elevating The Status Quo

If the 2021 S-Class is the big daddy in Mercedes-Benz's portfolio, it seems the new Maybach S-Class is the 'Godfather' of the three-pointed star. And, similar to how the S-Class showcases the very latest technology, luxury, and safety features in a modern car, the 2021 Maybach S-Class holds a lavish magnifying glass to all those aspects of Mercedes' flagship.

Yes, the Maybach is based on the all-new W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the latter is riding on a 7-inch longer wheelbase and is wider than before to deliver more wiggle room for rear passengers. In fact, Mercedes-Benz is upfront that the latest Maybach S-Class puts more emphasis on rear passenger room above all else. That is, if you want an S-Class and you spend more time lounging in the rear, the Maybach S-Class is a better option.

"With the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, we are emphasizing the progressive, modern approach of its exclusive product portfolio shortly before the 100th anniversary of Mercedes-Maybach automobiles," said Dirk Fetzer, head of Mercedes-Maybach product management. "Especially with respect to comfort, safety, and design, the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class has unique selling features in the hotly contested luxury segment."

With a longer wheelbase than a regular S-Class, the Maybach has up to a massive 50-inches of rear legroom and up to 12.8-inches of knee room. Instead of having a conventional rear bench seat, the Maybach S-Class has richly-appointed electric Executive rear seats (or captain's chairs in non-Mercedes speak) with adjustable and massaging leg rests. Rear passengers also gain access to separate folding tables which are big and sturdy enough to accommodate a laptop and other items.

Both rear seats feature double seams, diamond pattern upholstery, neck/shoulder heating, and a massaging function, while the side bolsters and backrests are individually configurable to deliver maximum comfort. Additionally, rear-seat passengers have access to an optional 10-liter refrigerated compartment in the rear armrest.

Want more rear seat luxury? The rear of the front backrests is flanked by premium wood panels, while the Executive Rear Seat Plus package adds more wood trim between the rear seats. The new Maybach S-Class can be fitted with electric, soft-close 'comfort rear doors' that can open or close in a variety of ways. You can open or close the rear doors manually using the conventional door handles, sure, but electric power has opened a new world of possibilities. For starters, the rear doors can be operated using the vehicle key or via the central touchscreen display.

They'll also respond via the rear seat displays or by pressing a switch in the roof liner. If you can't be bothered with pulling door handles, meanwhile, they'll open simply by touching the sensor surface on the door handle.

From a styling perspective, the Maybach S-Class has a new hood with a chromed fin, a bespoke front grille with MAYBACH branding on the chrome surround trim, and a distinctive front bumper with large air inlets rendered in either black or chrome mesh. Viewed from the sides, the Maybach S-Class has larger rear doors, more upright C-Pillars, and an illuminated Maybach brand logo on the C-pillar. Meanwhile, the two-section rear taillights were lifted directly from a standard S-Class sedan.

Similar to a Rolls-Royce, the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class can be specified with a bespoke two-tone paint finish divided by a hand-laid pinstripe or coachline. If you don't like a two-tone luxury car, it's also available in a wide range of non-metallic, metallic, or bespoke paint finishes.

Inside, the new Maybach S-Class is as fancy as a luxury yacht, and as high-tech as a modern boat, too. The driver gets to stare at a 12.3-inch digital 3D instrument cluster with an augmented reality heads-up display, while the center console is flanked by an exclusive 12.8-inch OLED infotainment touchscreen display with MBUX augmented video and navigation. The instrument display has a special Executive mode that changes the needles and dial instruments to rose gold.

Five touchscreens come as standard, including displays for the rear passenger and a rear tablet. Premium Nappa leather is specified for the seats and headliner, while an animated 64-color LED interior ambient lighting is standard, as well.

Under the hood, you'll find a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 engine with EQ Boost, similar to that in the current S580 4MATIC sedan. The burly gas engine produces 496 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. EQ Boost mild hybrid technology adds up to 21 horsepower and up to 184 pound-feet of torque.

Total output, then, is a healthy 517 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC AWD and a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic gearbox. Mercedes has yet to reveal the performance figures, but the Maybach S-Class has an electronically-limited top speed of 130 mph.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the Maybach S-Class is fitted with a second-gen integrated starter-generator (ISG) resting neatly within the transmission, allowing Mercedes to install an electric refrigerant compressor for the HVAC system. What this means is the ability to operate the climate control system even when the gasoline engine is not running.

Comfort is at the heart of every Maybach. The newest Maybach S-Class is fitted with standard AIRMATIC air suspension with continuously adjustable dampers and Dynamic Select driving modes. Mercedes' new E-Active Body Control active suspension will be available as an option starting next year. Powered by the onboard 48-volt hybrid system, it uses stereo cameras to scan the road ahead. It not only anticipates every bump and curve to prime the suspension, but E-Active Body Control can raise the Maybach automatically during a collision to direct the crash forces in the lower part of the vehicle.

New for 2021 is a MAYBACH driving mode that prioritizes maximum cloud-like comfort. Additionally, the ride silence is further enhanced with thicker laminated acoustic glass, sound-absorbent foam in the C-pillars and rear wheel arches, and an active noise canceling system. The latter utilizes the bass speakers from the standard Burmester 4D surround sound audio system to improve the cabin's NVH tuning.

Unlike a regular S-Class – and with cleanly clearing tight driveways in mind, even with that extra length – the Maybach comes standard with rear-axle steering, reducing the turning circle by up to two meters (or seven feet). Depending on your chosen wheel size (20-inch custom wheels are standard), the rear wheels can turn up to 10 degrees to improve high-speed handling and low-speed maneuverability.

As expected from a high-end luxury sedan, the 2021 Maybach S-Class is brimming with hi-tech safety kit. Rear passengers get side cushion airbags, inflatable belt bags, frontal airbags, side airbags, and window airbags located in the roof frame. Standard driver assistance features include active distance assist, active steering assist, traffic sign assist, active lane-keeping assist, active lane change assist, evasive steering assist, active blind spot assist, and many more.

If the S-Class is a relatively niche car, then the Maybach version is a lavish niche within a niche. Few will get to experience life in its rear seats, but it's not far-fetched to think of it as a private jet experience, only a little closer to the ground. The 2021 Mercedes Maybach S-Class is due to arrive at U.S. dealerships in mid-2021; pricing will be confirmed closer to launch, but the outgoing S-Class Maybach starts at around $173,000.