The new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class

Two-tone paint. Amongst others, Ford did it on the run-out special edition Cortina Crusader back in 1982. Now Mercedes is dusting it down for its new Maybach, and then some.

The process is too convoluted to go into fully here, but suffice to say it involves atomizing statically charged paint particles, sending the body to a custom paint shop where it’s ground to a matt finish, masking off in order to hand paint the dividing line, weighting the doors to compensate for the interior trim and electric gubbins that’ll be added later (so the finish lines up), while even parts of the body that’ll be fully covered by trim or cladding are painted. It can take up to a week, and if the custom guys don’t like the end result they’ll do it all again. Two-tone paint options include Kalahari gold over rubellite red, Mojave silver over the emerald green, and obsidian black over diamond white.

As ever, the taste police are hovering on standby, but Mercedes clearly knows what floats its wealthiest customers’ super-yacht. Since it was rebooted in 2015, following the early Noughties misadventure, the Maybach sub-brand has sold 60,000 cars. During 2019, 700 units per month headed to China alone, and indeed last year was Maybach’s most successful year to date (12,000 sold worldwide). “In the past, luxury was often associated with opulence and wastefulness. Today at Mercedes-Benz we’d rather understand it as a state of great comfort, ease and timeless aesthetics. It’s about purity, fascinating technology, and utmost quality,” Daimler CEO Ola Källenius says.

The new car takes the newly introduced and technologically advanced S-Class in an even more overtly luxurious direction. This is a vehicle whose options list includes a chauffeur package, that stretches the S-Class’s wheelbase by 18cm (it’s 5.5m long overall), and adds more metal to the rear doors. The grille is a serious statement that takes its cue from 2016’s magnificently in-yer-face Vision 6 concept, and the C-pillars feature fixed quarterlights with an illuminated brand logo on the outside. They’ve pushed the S-Class-based design envelope a fair bit harder than they did on the previous car, but essentially this is an ultra-luxe S-Class XXL.

But it’s also a car of sumptuous detail. Mercedes’ commitment to next-gen light technology is there in the Maybach’s (optional) digital light, whose module houses three powerful LEDs and uses 1.3 million micro-mirrors to refract and direct the light. Active road noise compensation (AFGK) uses the 4D Burmester surround sound system to generate counter-phased sound waves to eliminate unpleasant low-frequency sounds. Think noise-canceling headphones for an entire car interior. (Mercedes’ acoustic test center goes to truly barmy lengths to ensure the car’s interior solitude.)

The front seat backrests are covered in wood (there’s more between the seats if you’ve specified the First Class Rear, which of course you have), rear-seat passengers now get automated seat belt extenders, there’s adaptive rear lighting, and if the car has the Chauffeur package fitted the front passenger seat can be tilted forward by 23° beyond the 90° position, while the rear seat can be reclined to 43.5°. Enough to get a very decent kip on, in other words, especially given that the leg-rest’s travel is now 50mm longer. There’s also a new calf-rest massage function (good for blood circulation and for combatting fatigue), and neck and shoulder heating.

Upfront, the cabin builds on the new S-Class’s striking new layout in which, says Mercedes, the dashboard, center console and armrests ‘float above an expansive interior landscape’. Up to five display screens are available, dominated by a 12.8in central OLED infotainment one, although an optional 12.3in display ahead of the driver which delivers a 3D representation of other road users gives it a run for its money. The display uses Maybach-specific start-up animations, and if you choose the ‘Exclusive’ display mode the dial’s surrounds and the needles are in rosé gold, Maybach’s signature color.