The notion of avoiding too much of a good thing is a noble one.
It demonstrates an understanding of the pitfalls of excess and the importance of eschewing over-indulgence. Restraint is an admirable quality, after all. It’s also one that all but evaporates the very moment you lay eyes on the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 580.
Falling somewhere between a luxury sedan like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class it’s based on and an ultra-opulent one like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, this Maybach is a car that’s best enjoyed from the back seat – not that driving it is a chore, but it’s not what this sedan was built for.
Designating a Driver
The conversation started as very few do: deciding what to do with the nearly $300,000 sedan sitting in my parking garage. We’re a realistic bunch over here at AutoTrader, so we knew better than to put together a typical review of such an atypical car. While we do our best to avoid speculating, it strikes us that the average Maybach shopper has already decided that this is the car for them.
We already came up with a playful schtick for the video – what it’s like being chauffeured by your boss – and so it was suggested that I simply share that experience in writing, too. There was, of course, one problem: while it might appear in the polished and packaged final product that we spent the day cruising the countryside, in reality I spent no more than about 45 minutes being driven around, not exactly long enough to immerse myself in the 0.1 per cent experience.
“So, let’s do it,” my boss and AutoTrader Editor-in-Chief Jodi Lai said so nonchalantly I thought she was joking. “I’ll drive you wherever you want to go.”
So we set our sights on Hamilton, Ont., home of the Tiger-Cats and, more importantly, some of the finest craft breweries around. I’ve spent countless weekends criss-crossing southern Ontario in search of delicious suds, but as the one doing the driving, I almost never get to sample them on the spot. And while bringing home a bunch of consumable collectables is my raison d’être, I’ve often wished I could be whisked from one brewery to the next so I could indulge in real-time.
Simply put, I don’t think there’s a better car to do exactly that in than this Maybach. From the moment Jodi picked me up – she even dressed like a chauffeur – and the passenger-side rear door swung open automatically, it felt like I entered another strata of society. Driving a car like this is special enough on its own, but to be driven is what it’s all about.
Down to Business
I’d imagine the average occupant of the back seat of a Maybach S 580 is making bigger decisions than which brewery to stop at first, and so it’s set up for whatever business dealings one might need to make. The screens on the seatbacks aren’t just for entertainment and comfort controls: each is rigged with cameras and microphones, perfect for that virtual meeting you just can’t miss.
Feel free to bring every burner phone you’ve got, too; with six USB-C charging ports in the rear console, you can juice them up before chucking them out the window. I kid, of course – you’d pay someone to do the chucking for you.
Fitted with the Executive Rear Seating package, this sedan goes from extravagant to ermahgerd. As if the massage functions for both back seats – including dedicated calf massagers in the extendable legrests, I might add – weren’t enough, not to mention the ability to move the front passenger one far enough forward to fully stretch out my 6-foot-3 frame in the back (plus recline 43 degrees), the $11,500 upgrade adds opulent wood trim that extends from the parcel shelf to the centre console, airplane-style deployable tables, those power opening and closing doors, and a legitimate fridge.
Don’t let the marketing images fool you: while there might be room for two bottles of champagne and a few more of water, I found it’ll easily hold a dozen tallboys. OK, maybe the bubbly is a little more in keeping with the clientele of this car, which is why it’s supposed to come with silver-plated champagne flutes that have magnetic bases to keep them from spilling when clasped in their designated spots on the console. Alas, the ones that were meant to come with this tester didn’t make the trip over from Germany, so we settled for a pair of crystal thrift-store finds.
Beyond brimming with features, the very essence of this Maybach is exceptional in every way. The S-Class it’s based on is already brilliant, but this version makes it feel about as ordinary as a Toyota Camry. That’s not to dunk on the S-Class, which remains the benchmark for all luxury sedans like it, but the entire experience has been elevated to another level. And let’s be real: it’s ridiculous to expect any less from a car that adds about $90,000 to the starting price of a similar S-Class, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
Setting out along the QEW that connects Toronto and Hamilton (and beyond), it becomes immediately clear that this is no ordinary luxury sedan. It’s certainly not the only one to feature the combination of air suspension and adaptive dampers, and yet it manages to feel that much more composed over the pock-marked highway.
Rather than some sort of placebo effect, it’s the direct result of the Maybach-exclusive drive mode that “emphasizes comfort for the rear passengers by minimizing body motion and gearshifts, and making the throttle response more gentle,” according to the Mercedes-Benz website. Whatever it’s doing, it works, the sedan simply floating along the asphalt. It’s quiet, too, with dual pane glass and more sound deadening than a recording studio.
As we navigate the maze of one-way streets that make up downtown Hamilton, I catch a glimpse of the sleek two-tone sedan’s reflection in a storefront window (the paint job’s a $20,000 option, by the way); there’s something surprisingly sensible about the Maybach S 580. It’s not exactly understated, but it’s at least a little less flashy than being chauffeured around in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, that much is certain.
Pulling into a public parking lot on Vine Street near Merit Brewing Co., a must-try for those in the neighbourhood, the rear end of the car feels as if it’s physically swinging outward thanks to the 10-degree rear-axle steering – another option added to this tester that can cut the turning circle by some six feet. It’s a sensation unlike any other, as most rear-axle steering systems turn barely a few degrees, but it makes manoeuvring this 18-ft sedan that much easier – or so my driver tells me.
A delicious lunch and a couple pints later (for me, at least) and we were off along Main Street, past McMaster University, towards another local favourite: Fairweather Brewing Co. Pulling into the gravel lot in the back gets the attention of the half-dozen or so staff that happen to be milling around outside, so Jodi tucks the car in tight alongside the patio. After a few quick photos, rain chases us inside, but not before another patron starts quizzing us excitedly about the Maybach.
It was just one of the many examples of the kind of attention it attracted during our time with the car, all of which poked more than a pinhole in my theory that it’s not too flashy. Despite the hype, the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 remains the single most dignified vehicle I’ve ever driven – or been driven in. Sure, it’s a symbol of excess; and, at nearly $300,000 for this particular example, it’s not for the faint of heart (or wallet). But it’s unquestionably amazing in every way, and especially when it’s experienced the way it was meant to be.