Everyone seems to know about the Maybach’s party trick already. The car’s reputation precedes it. Regular people, the sort who don’t really care about cars, have, it turns out, already seen the Maybach’s “door thing.” (It was all over Instagram for a hot second.)
If you wave your arm in a certain way while sitting in the back seat of a 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 580, the rear door will close automatically – as if pushed by the ghost of a long-dead chauffeur.
You might think the fact that everyone already seems to know the trick would dampen its appeal, but that’s not the case.
In my experience, what happens is this: Friends, family members and strangers sit down in this palatial sedan and, for a moment, they’re stunned by its extreme luxury. Then people try the door trick. They wave once. Nothing. They wave again, this time with more vigour. Still nothing. A quicker wave. Nope. There’s laughter. Then a silly, come-hither sort of wave. No reaction.
Is the Maybach gaslighting people? Maybe. Does the wave only work if there’s a Rolex or Royal Oak watch on your wrist? Good question.
Finally, and only when it’s good and ready, does the door swing closed on its own terms – and people are still impressed because it is a neat trick, the vehicular equivalent of spooky action at a distance.
In fact, the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 580 is one giant party trick. It’s the most Instagrammable, gadget-stuffed vehicle money can buy. The price for Mercedes’ most opulent sedan is $240,400, although by the time a customer adds options such as the $20,000 two-tone paint and the optional rear seating package with massaging recliners and throw pillows which is on this particular car, the price is just shy of $300,000.
There are actually seven ways to operate the Maybach’s rear doors: using the key fob, the central touch screen, the rear touch screens, a pressure switch in the roof liner, a sensor on the door handle, the wave, or – if all else fails – your own muscle.
The list of gadgets is endless. The two-dimensional digital instrument cluster looks 3-D, thanks to eye-tracking technology. It’s incredible, but impossible to photograph. The huge, augmented-reality head-up display is wonderful.
The tech can be overwhelming, so to help passengers relax, the Maybach has a feature called energizing comfort, which is somewhat unnervingly written in all-caps on the in-car screen. Under that menu are several options designed to set various moods. The “well-being” mode, for example, pumps a whiff of perfume into the cabin, turns on the massaging seats, changes the cabin’s ambient lighting, and plays a screensaver-like abstract video loop on the displays. The experience is more strange than relaxing.
If a passenger simply wants a massage, all they have to do is ask: “Hey Mercedes, turn on the massaging seat.” It can detect which seat you’re in and switch on the appropriate massager. That said, even at its most vigorous setting, the massage could do with a bit more pressure.
The Maybach’s only real rivals are the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the Bentley Flying Spur, which seem a bit old money in comparison. These grand British dames have the ambience of a cigar lounge or a country club – it varies, depending on colour and trim – while the Maybach is more akin to a spaceship. There are screens galore, and, unlike in the Bentley, the central display in the Maybach can’t be folded or flipped out of sight. There’s no respite from screen time, which is a shame, but the sort of people who can’t put down their phones will love it.
As you’d expect for the price, the Maybach – which is essentially a glitzier, stretched version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class – ticks all of the usual luxury-car boxes. It’s calm and quiet, but rapid when needed, thanks to a twin-turbo V8. (Fuel consumption is heavy at 15.2 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.9 on the highway.) When driving less than 30 kilometres an hour, the Maybach can make speed bumps disappear. The car floats over them as if they were a mirage. The Burmester stereo is crystal clear and undistorted, even when it’s loud, and the cabin is spacious enough that rear-seat passengers can pretend they’re reclining on the beach in St. Barts.
Still, if you’re in the market for a new land yacht, you should know that even the Maybach can’t compete with Rolls-Royce’s flagship Phantom sedan on all-out luxury grounds. Sure, the big Rolls is roughly double the price, but what’s a couple of hundred grand between friends?
The Maybach has altogether too much shiny black trim in the cabin for a car of its price, and the ride quality lacks the final degree of smoothness, perhaps because of the optional 20-inch forged wheels that occasionally go “clunk” over potholes.
But wait, the internet asks, does the Rolls-Royce do that neat arm-waving door-closing trick? No, no it doesn’t.