The resurrection of Maybach under the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand was a late—and mildly controversial—decision. The long-wheelbase version of the Mercedes-Benz S-class could have been launched as just that. Instead, a group of executives, including chief designer Gorden Wagener, lobbied hard to bring back the Maybach moniker, resulting in the Mercedes-Maybach S-class. That was despite the somewhat disastrous run of the Maybach 57 and 62, behemoths built upon the platform of the W140 S-class between 2002 and 2012. As a stand-alone brand, Maybach never came close to meeting its production targets.
Launching Mercedes-Maybach in November 2014 as a more luxury-oriented sub-brand parallel to the performance-minded Mercedes-AMG variants, however, has been a smashing success. Priced within reach of the standard car, the longer Maybach models (stretched nearly 10 inches beyond the length of the Benz-branded S-class sedans sold here, which are themselves the “long-wheelbase” models in Europe) have proved especially popular in the United States, Russia, and China. Parent company Daimler already has decided that the brand will be expanded to further segments: think next-gen GLS.
Now that Mercedes-Maybach is established, Daimler has decided that it needs its own face. So here, revealed ahead of its public unveiling at the upcoming Geneva auto show, is the 2019 Mercedes-Maybach S-class, complete with a fresh and brand-specific grille of vertical slats similar to that used on the 2002–2012 models—only this time topped by a Mercedes three-pointed-star hood ornament. The photos that Mercedes released show a car painted in a newly available two-tone scheme, which also is reminiscent of the earlier Maybachs and intended to emphasize the brand’s position as a competitor to the likes of Bentley. The catalog will include a total of nine two-tone paint schemes, and customers can order the darker colors enhanced with a double clear coat manually applied “by specially trained varnishers,” the company says. The interior benefits from additional available color schemes and new trim options as well. That’s all before you get into the sort of custom offerings often available on cars priced far north of $150,000.
The differentiation from the regular S-class and the entire Mercedes-Benz range is a logical step following Maybach’s initial success. Right now, it still is possible to order a Mercedes-Maybach with a relatively frugal equipment list, keeping the price gap from a regular S-class fairly modest. The new face and more upscale options will only enhance its appeal and expand the price range upward.
The more visually distinctive 2019 models—both the V-8–powered Mercedes-Maybach S560 and its V-12–powered S650 sibling—go on sale in Europe in April; the U.S. market will follow in late summer, by which time we’ll know more about pricing.