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I can’t review the Mercedes-Maybach S680

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Mercedes-Maybach S680
We’re waiting for someone very important.

Eric, the very nice man who sends me press cars, warned me: Rolls Royce doesn’t do car reviews. Ever the go-getter, I figured I’d try anyway. Turns out…Rolls Royce doesn’t do car reviews. But there is another brand that’s just as prestigious (and luxurious). So I asked for a Mercedes-Maybach S680 instead.

And would you look at that – they said yes.

But this isn’t a regular car, something very apparent as soon as you get smacked in the face with the scent of moo hide upon opening the door. And if this isn’t a regular car, then this can’t be a regular review. Instead I’m changing careers: I’m now a chauffeur. Well, not yet – I need some clients.

So I set up an appointment, a test drive, with the most demanding person I could find.

My daughter.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

2023 Mercedes-Maybach S680 Quick Take

Get one:

Luxurious beyond belief. V-12. Only a rolling private jet would be more exclusive (and faster).

Don’t get one:

Not AMG-flavored if you’re looking for spice. Will become devalued quickly. Missing some key tech.

Soul Score: 8

Defies the normal automotive experience. Sit back, relax, and let someone else drive it for maximum enjoyment.

The 2023 Mercedes-Maybach S680 overview

Mercedes-Maybach S680

Before we pick her up, I’d like to introduce you to my whip. Maybach’s been around awhile – 1909. Mercedes bought them in the 1950s, and by 2002, decided to introduce them as a standalone ultra-lux brand like Rolls Royce, which BMW had recently purchased.

But Maybach wasn’t nearly as successful, so by 2015, Merc pulled the plug. Now, Maybach is reborn as a sort of high-end Alpina – an in-house badge that gets applied to the S-Class and GLS SUV, among others.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

The S680 you see here gets a V-12, but it’s not meant to be a steamroller. I’ve no doubt that many people who paid for one also drive them, but like never taking your M3 to a track, what a waste to simply drive this car around on mundane errands. It’s simply beneath that sort of thing.

Now we really must be going. Madison is waiting, and we can’t be late.

Arrival

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The rear doors open at the press of a button.

Our little princess is quite particular. Like Miles Finch from Elf, she needs the cabin temperature to be exactly 68 degrees, easily achieved with separate climate controls. I’ve also taken the liberty to raise the privacy shades (rear and side glass), to prevent any paparazzi from leering too close. Also engaged: maximum air fragrance system. I can’t let that New Jersey air pollute the experience.

Smells like a waft of fiery aromas.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Watch your head miss.

The back of the S680 is quite complex, so I have to make sure everything is prepared. There’s a bottle of sparkling juice chilled in the refrigerator that lives between the recliners. The seat heat has been turned on. So have the Mercedes-Maybach Bluetooth headphones.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Chilled to serve in the fridge.
Mercedes-Maybach S680
Problem is, the fridge (and a subwoofer) take up a lot of space in the trunk.

Not the rear screen though. Apparently, Mercedes didn’t see fit to include a Netflix subscription like Cadillac does in the Escalade. No AirPlay either. In fact, I don’t even have the right HDMI connection to make the screen display her favorite baking show, and I have tons of A/V cables.

Hopefully, it won’t hurt my reputation (or the Maybach’s) too much.

Excuse me?

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The doors are truly heavy, so these come in handy. Just watch if you’re close to something. You can’t open the front doors like this, just the rear.

I pull up to the revolving door at Exchange Place in Jersey City as Madison is departing her VIP meeting, and I tap a few buttons on my driver display to open the power rear door for her.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The door closes with a button on the roof.

She steps in, sits down, and gives me “the look”. If you don’t know what the look is, you probably don’t have kids yet. Oh, right…I’m the chauffeur.

I hop out of the driver seat (no power doors for me in front), and walk to the back so I can help get her situated. I open the bottle of bubbly (nice and cool), and then lift the flute from its special cup holder in the center console. No really, it’s made just for that…

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The reclining seats offer multiple adjustments and is part of a $6,000 package.
Mercedes-Maybach S680
Throw pillow and champagne flutes included.

I pour a glass, and then place the bottle perfectly in the chiller within that same console (yes, there’s a fridge and a cooled/heated holder). Out comes the folding tray that’s covered in leather, and up goes the footrest. Actually, we don’t even need the passenger seat in the front, so I press a button on the door and watch as a ballet unfolds. The front chair motors far forward, the rear seat reclines further, foot rest all the way up. Mercedes-Maybach pillow on the head rest. Finally, a little foot rest pops out from under the front seat. Not that Madison can reach it yet.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
When not in use, the front seat can motor out of the way, providing even more room.
Mercedes-Maybach S680
Cup holders are heated and cooled as well.

Something is missing…ah! I open three boxes of her favorite candy.

I’m exhausted, and we haven’t even left yet.

Driving the Mercedes-Maybach S680

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The front seats are for second class citizens.

Given all that luxury in the rear, you might be surprised to find that the front seats are merely average, though they do have that wonderful Mercedes trick of inflatable bolsters as you turn corners. The bottom cushion though – far too wide.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

It’s also a bit tight. Sure, I have a cup holder, two digital displays (including a very cool 3D one in the dashboard), and my own sunroof, but Madison can control almost everything from one of three tablets in the rear. I select “Comfort Diamond”, because I want to make sure the ride is ultra smooth, but it also makes the car bob a bit like an ocean liner.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
This is a 3-dimensional dash, but it’s not something the camera can capture.

There is a Sport mode. But you’d never ask an offensive lineman to be your running back. Regular Comfort mode it is then.

I tug on the column stalk to put the Maybach in drive, and off we go.

The rad, bad (and sad) V-12

Mercedes-Maybach S680
There’s also a V-8, but why not spring for the biggest and best?

Now you might think the star of the show is the V-12. It’s a 6-liter, twin-turbocharged unit that pumps out 621 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque. But the Mercedes-Maybach S680 also weights 5,346 pounds, and it isn’t exactly geared for red-light pulls. The sound it emits is muted, distant, and calming.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

This makes me wonder – why not make the S680 electric? Doesn’t get much quieter than that, and they can produce just as much torque. The V-12 also has a gasoline habit, and I average 12 MPG throughout the week. Perhaps it stays because of that V-12 badge on the side of the car.

Pushed, this car will get to sixty in less than four seconds. It’s definitely fast.

I don’t think Madison cares.

Pot (and traffic) holes

Mercedes-Maybach S680
We’ve settled in, and comfy.

By now, Madison has settled in on our ride home. I try the waft approach instead of my usual slice-and-dice through traffic. If I can fit into a spot, I will, but I won’t gun the V-12 to reach it. Despite low-profile winter tires and gigantic 22-inch Monobloc wheels, nothing upsets the air suspension-equipped ride. The bumps and clangs typical of Northern New Jersey roads are so far away, they might as well be on the moon. Active noise cancellation helps quiet the cabin too, making the experience borderline serene, even from the front seat.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Despite a low profile, bumps are absorbed in another ZIP code.
Mercedes-Maybach S680
Okay, okay!

Despite its size, the Maybach is easy to drive around a city street. Rear-wheel steering aids in fitting the car into tighter spots, yet never gives the Merc an unsettled feeling. Overall, it’s far too composed to refer to it as a limo.

A complaint snaps me out of my train of thought – I forgot Madison’s favorite cookies (Oreos), but despite the roaring, I soon find my VIP passenger fast asleep under the soothing ambient lighting (select any RGB color you can think of, or choose from combined combinations).

It’s truly the most soothing car you could drive.

If you have to ask…

Mercedes-Maybach S680

At this point, I can begin to relax and admire the car I’m in. Leather is everywhere, on every surface (including the roof). There’s stunning (and real) piano black gloss trim. Could be off a Yamaha Baby Grand. I try to understand why the Executive rear seats are optional (a bench is standard), because for $6,000, no one buying this car will balk.

Also here are $3,200 champagne flutes, but I don’t tell Madison that the ones she’s using are $5 stand-ins.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Tastes just as good out of the $5 flutes.

Outside, the look is understated. Typically perfect Magno (matte) white paint gives the Mercedes-Maybach S680 an understated look, but sheer size still makes it imposing. For those that want to make a bigger impression, choose from a two-tone exterior and some absolutely crazy wheel designs.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Details are stunning throughout.

For a moment, I contemplate the sticker price… $247,600. More than my new town home purchased ten years ago. But then I look back at Madison, fast asleep under the silence of the ride, and I smile.

Worth it, for sure.

Bringing it in for a landing

Mercedes-Maybach S680

Driving this car requires an adjustment, at least for me. Every response is delayed, but not in a dim-witted way. Instead, I’m the dummy.

“Stop pushing me so much, embrace the comfort.”

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Each corner floats like a boat.
Mercedes-Maybach S680

When I do that, the pause from the brake pedal is easier to live with, as is the delay when setting off from a stop. There’s the silly auto start/stop here, but all it does is make the car jerk needlessly. Turn it off. I spin the steering wheel with fingertip lightness – never a death grip. The response is direct, if a bit numb. Everything allows you to drive the car smoothly once you get the hang of it.

Aside from an on-ramp launch (old habits die hard, and the car will move once the turbos spool), the ride is smooth and serene, and Ms. Madison never wakes up from her nap.

Mercedes-Maybach S680
The cabin’s ambient lighting is always impressive…
Mercedes-Maybach S680
But at night, it is like nothing I’ve seen.

As we pull into the driveway, I step out and find that the retractable door handles didn’t actually pop back out. I fiddle, looking like a fool, and making Madison question her lineage. She steps out groggily, eyes glazed over. It’s past her bedtime. I get a kiss on the cheek as payment for service.

The car itself isn’t too trashed. A few candies are stuck in the wool carpeting. Some juice on the leather. Life of a limo, I suppose.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

Now, I can only wait by the phone and hope for another client call.

Living with the Mercedes-Maybach S680

Mercedes-Maybach S680

It’s easy to be impressed with this car. Seems to have thought of everything. But what if you’re accustomed to this level of luxury?

Don’t you get tired of even the best restaurants?

Sadly a car like the Maybach, as nice as it is, feels a bit disposable. The tech is already dated in some areas, and part of luxury is having the latest and greatest. Unless you’re willing to hire said chauffeur, I’m not sure I see the appeal of the Maybach compared to an S-Class, some of which are over $100,000 cheaper. Drive this car new off the lot, and you’re likely to take a $50,000 depreciation hit by the time you pull it into your garage. Not that such things matter to the well-healed.

Mercedes-Maybach S680

Yet there is that back seat – it left an impression, to say the least. Everything felt like an event. Everyone looked to see me in a cut-off T-shirt chugging a Starbies. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a car like this parked in my driveway again.

I think I’m going to miss it. Certainly the way it made Madison smile at me from the back seat.

Perhaps this Mercedes has a soul after all.

Should I try Rolls again?

Mercedes-Maybach S680
Thank you Madison, and Corryn for getting her dressed up. I still don’t know how to style hair.
Mercedes-Maybach S680

2023 Mercedes-Maybach S680 4MATIC Specifications

Vehicle Type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, four-passenger, four-door sedan

PRICE

Base: $229,000
As tested: $247,600

POWERTRAIN

6.2 liter twin turbocharged V-12
621 horsepower @ 5,250 RPM
664 lb-ft @ 2,000 RPM

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 133.7 in
Length: 215.3 in
Width: 75.6 in
Height: 59.4 in
Curb Weight: 5,346 lbs

FUEL ECONOMY

12 city / 20 highway / 14 combined

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