LOS ANGELES – Mercedes-Benz, which is already known for making wonderfully luxurious cars, used the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show recently to to show off a car that's designed to compete with the likes of Rolls Royce and Bentley.
The car is called the Mercedes-Maybach S 600 and the first thing you'll notice about it is its name. Mercedes-Benz made a couple of cars under the Maybach brand starting 2002. Those cars offered more luxury and prestige than typical Benzes but that division of the company was dissolved about ten years later.
Now, Mercedes has created a new sub-brand called Mercedes-Maybach that will focus on high-end luxury cars. By the way, the company is also creating a brand called Mercedes-AMG to focus on performance cars while also keeping the Mercedes-Benz brand for more conventional cars.
The first offering of Mercedes-Maybach is the S 600 and its slightly less powerful twin the S 500. Both are targeted at the wealthiest clients in America and China.
On the outside, the car looks much like a conventional Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. However, this new version has been stretched by about 10 inches compared to the S-Class long-wheelbase version.
That extra room was put to good use for the rear passengers as Mercedes-Maybach expects its buyers to be chauffeured around instead of driving themselves.
Naturally, the two rear seats are covered in soft leather, but they also come with their own separate little pillows and can recline down to about a 45-degree angle in case you want to take a quick power nap.
Those seats also have little airplane-style tray tables that fold into the center armrest. There is no middle seat in the back -- just two very comfortable seats on either side.
Cup holders in the center armrest can keep your beverage warm or cold, while a separate climate control system makes sure each rear passenger is just the right temperature, too.
Want the seats to give you a massage while cruising at high speeds? That's an option, too.
There's an available panoramic sunroof that adds an airy feel to the already cavernous cabin. If there's too much light, the touch of a button can darken the glass.
The rear doors end a few inches short of the rear seats. That's by design and is intended to give the rear passengers an additional sense of enclosure back there.
Mercedes engineers also focused a lot of energy on making the cabin one of the quietest of any production vehicle. That's no small feat when you consider the reclining rear seats mean passenger's ears could be in a different position at any given time.
Your chauffeur is too far away? Engineers thought of that and use a microphone in the rear-view mirror to pipe the voices of the front passengers into the rear speakers.
The car can even come with its own air ionization and filtration system that can be used to pump a special fragrance into the air.
Keeping important people safe was also a priority. The car has a long list of safety features including inflatable seat belts that are designed to expand to three times their normal width in the event of a crash to better distribute the force across the passenger's chest.
Powering the giant car is a 530-horsepower six-liter V12 engine in the S 600. The S 500 is propelled by a 4.6-liter V8 that cranks out 455 horsepower.
As for price, Mercedes-Maybach hasn't disclosed the final cost, but a fully loaded S-Class comes in around $175,000 and you can expect the new version of the S 600 to be north of that when sales start in February 2015.