Yes, Mercedes-Benz’s ten-year experiment into resurrecting a long-dead automotive marquee will wrap up next year, when the current Maybach models will be phased out. So we’d like to take a moment of silence—not in honor of the demise of the Maybach brand, which, let’s face it, never really found an audience outside of the hip-hop community, but to commemorate the final demise of the Mercedes-Benz W140 platform.
See, though it arrived in 2002, the Maybach was built on the Panzer-like chassis of the W140, commonly known as the 1991-1999 S-Class. This platform was the last S-Class overbuilt in the traditional Mercedes fashion, which resulted in massive cost overruns during development. But all that overengineering resulted in a car built to exceedingly high standards—standards the subsequent W220 S-Class couldn’t match.
So while most car enthusiasts won’t rend their garments over the loss of the Maybach brand, the company’s two models are worth a tear or two. Seriously, take a minute to consider the Maybach 57 S. Beneath the skin, it’s the beloved W140 platform, but under the hood lies a 6.0 liter AMG twin-turbo V12 cranking out 620 horsepower and 738 lb-ft that sends all 6,340+ pounds of car from 0-60 in five seconds flat on the way to a 173 mph top speed. It’s a W140 with air suspension, keyless entry and start-up, heated adjustable seats front and rear, radar cruise control, dual rear-seat video screens, a 21 speaker Bose surround sound system and a pair of friggin’ sterling silver champagne flutes. That’s pretty awesome.
The silver lining to this, however, is that Mercedes-Benz plans on using the end of Maybach as an opportunity “to focus greater attention on the Mercedes-Benz brand,” according to an insider. “It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach,” Daimler CEO Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The next S-Class is in every respect such a superior vehicle that it can replace the Maybach models.”
Instead, Mercedes will push the S-Class further upmarket, adding three additional derivatives to the current lineup of short wheelbase sedan, long wheelbase sedan and CL-Class coupe. “What we want to do now is move into the 100,000-300,000 euros segment [with the S-Class],” a company spokesperson said of the new S-Class, expected to arrive in 2013. A more upscale S-Class, designed to beat the best? The W140 may be dead, but it looks like its legacy will live on. [via AutoWeek, Reuters, FAZ]