Jet Set Dream Car Forbes

7 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Jet Set Dream Car Forbes отключены
Maybach Electric Cars

Jet Set Dream Car

Overview

As we reach cruising speed, I recline my seat to nearly horizontal. Outside heavy storm clouds thunder over the German countryside but inside it’s toasty warm–my seat heater is on, and so is the massage function. The down-and-leather pillow behind my head gently cushions my skull, and I gaze forward through narrowed eyes, nearly asleep now in the whisper-quiet cabin.

I can see the cockpit instruments winking at me far in the distance. Despite our velocity, a pleasant inertia overtakes me while Ocean’s Eleven plays on the crystal-clear, flat panel DVD screen, my legs elevated on a leather recliner, surround sound headphones cradling my cranium. The guy sitting next to me asks if I want some Dom Perignon from the champagne fridge in the armrest, and we toast with sterling silver flutes (no crystal onboard, lest we crash) to our great good fortune.

If this sounds like flying on a private jet, you wouldn’t be far off. Except I wasn’t in a Gulfstream V. I was in the new Maybach 62, perhaps the greatest non-flying accoutrement of the jet set ever devised.

Even though it can’t get from New York to London in six hours, the Maybach can do just about everything else. (Almost everything, but, sorry, no restroom.) Unsurprisingly, though, you will have to pay jet set prices as well. Even though U.S. prices have not been released, in Europe the prices for the shorter wheelbase Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62 are around $310,000 and $361,000, respectively. Not that you can get one tomorrow.

Production for the U.S. doesn’t start until March, and with nearly a yearlong waiting list already (only 500 cars a year to North America and another 500 to the rest of the globe), Maybach has no shortage of takers.

Remarkable, you say?

Not at all, say Maybach officials, who are, by the way, employees of DaimlerChrysler. They explain that Daimler has had the rights to the Maybach name for decades. Back in 1998, when BMW and Volkswagen got into a high-stakes bidding war over Bentley and Rolls-Royce, DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes division folded its hand early, knowing it had an extra card to play.

Shortly thereafter, plans to revive the Maybach–a once proud and exceedingly rare pre-war German luxury car of which only 1,800 very expensive examples were produced–were hatched.

Apparently, Mercedes officials knew exactly what they were doing. If you talk to Paul Halata . CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, as we did back in July when the Maybach first hit U.S. shores in a very splashy New York City launch, he’ll coolly explain that there was already pent-up demand for the car. That, in fact, with 8,000 annual sales of AMG-edition Mercedes cars (these cost thousands more than their base, C, E, CLK, CL, SL and S-class cousins since they offer custom engines, colors and interior amenities), Mercedes customers have the desire and the cash for something even grander–and more exclusive.

In fact, according to studies by DaimlerChrysler, 8,500 customers worldwide pay more than $250,000 for luxury goods each year–think not just cars but yachts, second homes, even vacations and jewelry. Halata thinks convincing such people to instead buy from Maybach one year, rather than from Harry Winston, won’t be a tough sell.

And given the vast amount of customization possible–from interior and exterior colors; from woods, metals and stone trims; from electronics and humidors–those with the means will find it hard to resist the chance to express themselves in a realm that heretofore really hasn’t existed. Sure, Bentley and Rolls-Royce will argue the contrary, that their cars have always offered this level of customization. But their machines haven’t been this roomy, this technologically advanced or built by a company known for great engineering and sound quality.

To put it more bluntly, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys break down. Although, that might change, of course. Bentley will see a nearly $1 billion investment over the current decade by owner Volkswagen, and BMW is pouring money, research and high-tech manufacturing into Rolls-Royce.

But at the very least, Maybach has a one-year jump on Rolls, and Bentley isn’t as big or as fresh as the newcomer German.

That’s what Maybach is banking on. That, and all the details you can find out more about by clicking below. One caution: The next few sections merely provide a tease of what this car is about.

This is one of the most complex pieces of machinery ever made available to consumers, and an exhaustive overview would take hundreds of Web pages.

57 Or 62?

There are two Maybachs, the 57, standing for a 5.7-meter-long car, and the 62, named also for the car’s length in meters. (The latter car is more than 20 feet in length, almost 2 feet longer than a Ford Excursion; only a few American full-size pickup trucks with four-seat cabs and 8-foot beds are longer.)

The difference between the 57 and 62 is pretty obvious: The 57 is meant to be driven by its owner; the 62 is all about being a passenger in the backseat.

Both cars get a remarkably fluid 5.5-liter V-12 good for a stunning 550 horsepower and a freight-train-like 657 foot-pounds of torque. And, in fact, the two Maybachs won’t differ all that much mechanically, but some of the accoutrements of the longer car’s rear cabin will not be available in the 57, such as the panorama roof (see Backseat section ) and the reclining seats, not to mention the extraordinary legroom.

Trust us, you can still kick back in style in the 57, with anyone up to 6 feet 6 inches tall finding easy comfort. But with the 62 you’re unlikely to want to ever drive, whereas with the 57 you could hire a chauffer occasionally and drive yourself the rest of the time.

Backseat

If you’ve ever ridden in the back of a stretch limo, you know the problem with these cars. They weren’t engineered from the beginning to serve the purpose they do, so their proportions are all wrong. The seats are too low, so your legs just sort of dangle there, the same as they do when you cram yourself into one of those little desks for the parent-teacher conference at your child’s school.

True, you get legroom, but you don’t get real comfort.

The Maybach 62, though, was built from the backseat forward. Even before you climb aboard, this becomes obvious. The rear door is huge and hinges almost to a right angle, so a woman in an evening gown, for instance, can easily get into a Maybach 62 without struggle.

By the way, it also helps that the roof of the Maybach is more than 5 feet high, so little crouching is required.

Once you get inside, you can pull down on a small toggle mounted on the ceiling by the door seal. This closes the door–via an electric motor–so you don’t have to awkwardly reach out and grab the handle. Just sit back and close it by only lifting an index finger.

Now, about where you’re actually seated. We’ll get around to the various finishes, leathers and so on in the Customization and Electronics section. but for now trust us that the many kinds of leather, carpeting, wood and so forth are superb.

But where you are sitting may be the most memorable thing of all. First, you’re more than five feet from the driver, so the position itself is one of enthroned luxury. No joke: This car sits several inches higher than an S-Class, so you truly look down on other cars–though not on SUVs–and the view forward is so seemingly distant that you can easily ignore the rigmarole of motoring and concentrate on your work or your comfort. (There are hidden microphones so you can communicate with the driver without shouting, just in case that was a worry.)

Now then, those thrones are incredibly flexible, depending on your want. In their fully upright position, they are very much akin to a first-class airline seat–wide, well bolstered and not nearly as careworn or as industrial-feeling as one might find on a commercial aircraft. A true vintage, pigskin club chair is more like it–but with better lumbar support.

We found the straight-backed position perfect for note taking on the well-hidden but easily deployable foldout tables (one for each rear passenger) that, again, like on a plane, flip over your lap.

But unlike on any airplane we’ve seen, these tables feature leather undersides (to prevent snags on your silk trousers) and wood surfaces and are edged in machined aluminum with a chrome coating.

Not scribbling notes furiously like this reporter?

Then recline the seat backrest at the touch of a button; slide the whole seat backward if you need more legroom; drop the backrest more if you prefer; and yes, deploy the thigh support to fit the contours of your lower leg. And by all means, extend the footrest, too, since this can give even a very tall man enough chair length to have his knees only slightly flexed once the chair is fully articulated.

We’re not done here. You can turn on the air-activated massage function for your spine, and there’s a heating and cooling function as well. (For the latter, air is blown through perforations in the seat to evaporate perspiration.) And because you truly are the master of your own Maybach, there are three memory settings for each backseat position, which you might select for work, relaxation and socializing, should you choose.

By the way, even if you’ve got the seat fully reclined and stretched out, the backrest will rapidly revert to the upright position in the event of a severe accident (to prevent whiplash), and the seatbelts protect you in all positions as well. And, just to be extra safe, there are ten airbags deployed throughout the car.

If you so choose, you can get a retractable glass partition that fits between the driver and passenger compartments. This effectively reduces all backseat conversation to a mere murmur up front (we tested it out). Additionally, the owner in the backseat can turn the glass opaque at the touch of a switch–a liquid crystal layer inside the glass becomes clear when charged and turns white when the electric charge is switched off.

Further privacy is enabled with a curtain for the rear window (also functions electrically) and with two rear-seat cell phones. Why would the Maybach owner need two? One rings as the primary phone for the car, with a second handset up front for the driver (or personal secretary) so said minion could answer your calls while you snooze.

Meantime, another number and phone is available only to the Maybach owner, in case you want your private calls to stay that way. Both phones are parked in the center console of the rear seat.

Like the partition, the panorama roof also utilizes the miracle of liquid crystals. This lid, nearly a square yard in size, sheds natural light on the entirety of the rear cabin. Moreover, the roof can be “closed,” with a liner sliding between the inner and outer glass layers, blocking natural light. Or if you choose, the roof, like the partition, can simply be made opaque, filtering out about one-quarter of the light.

But the real beauty of the roof is how it looks at night.

An electro-luminescent membrane bathes a soft orange glow over the cabin and can be adjusted for intensity via a small knurled wheel on the rear center console. The experience of sitting under this shower of warm light is mesmerizing for even the most jaded or moody. It is positively uplifting.

Customization And Electronics

Believe it or not (we’re inclined to believe it), Maybach claims its customers can customize the car 2 million different ways. This includes, of course, the 17 different paint colors for the exterior (and you have to assume the many ways in which these colors could be combined because of two-tone options), the six choices of leather, three choices of wood, the choices of silver trim…you get the idea.

The point is, without even getting into the actual functional options available with this car, the surfacing choices alone may require consulting with an interior decorator. Especially since any color you want inside or out for leather or fabric or paint can likely be made as well. It will cost you, but Maybach clearly is willing to try to give the customer everything he or she wants.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you pick a fairly straightforward arrangement: a two-tone black and gray car (a chrome rail divides the two planes of color on the exterior) and a prominent cherry-wood theme inside. Even so, there’d still be yards of hand-sewn nappa leather to cover the seats, top of the dash and upper panels of the doors, and yet more nubuck leather (a more suede-like material) for the lower surfaces of the door panels and for the underside of the dash.

The wood–you said cherry, right? (you could also pick Indonesian amboyna or California burr walnut–isn’t just slapped around the cabin. Rather, a triple-section lamellar (think louvers) strip, about 2 inches wide, wraps around the entire car at chair-rail height. Piecing this together requires hundreds of elements and support structures, and the joinery is all done by hand.

Aluminum trim frames the lower portions of this rail.

Offsetting the wood bits, which are also inlaid under switches and fitted across parts of the dash, are piano-black lacquer switches. These are finished in the same way that the wood of a Steinway piano is painted. That’s no accident: It’s done as a tribute to Steinway, which actually imported Maybach cars to its U.S. customers in the 1930s.

Options are nearly endless. For example, precisely how and what you want in the various compartments of the car can be decided to your precise specifications. Our Maybach 62 test vehicle had wedge-shaped flip-open makeup mirrors designed to fit into small slots in hidden on-door compartments.

There are several other compartments throughout the cabin. That center console between the rear-seat passengers can contain a refrigerator large enough to hold a bottle of wine or champagne, plus several small bottles of water. There are also neat storage containers for champagne flutes, metal cups, a humidor, a makeup container and so on.

Further tailoring can be done to the entertainment system of the car, but it comes rather well appointed from the outset. There are dual 9.5-inch TFT flat-panel screens on the back of the front seatbacks (in the 57) and on the partition wall (in the 62). These are sourced from Panasonic and are, shy of plasma technology, the clearest monitors we’ve witnessed.

Video for these screens is fed from an Alpine DVD player that rests in a compartment at shoulder level between the two rear-passenger seats, where you’ll also find the CD changer and inputs for other devices, like video-in for a camera, MP3 player or laptop. Although technical specifications have not yet been fully set, Maybach officials say all of these devices can be programmed into an onboard remote control for the entire entertainment system.

Maybach officials also say that if, for example, a customer wanted a wireless keyboard for a laptop (and a built-in docking station so the computer could be displayed on the rear-seat screens), such a setup could easily be configured. One client already has asked for a cordless setup for an electronic keyboard so he can hear the music he’s composing over the sound system in real time.

Maybach Electric Cars

But even this customer likely won’t have issues with the 21-speaker, 600-watt, 12-amp sound system. This amazing new Bose sonic network directs all audio inputs into surround sound at every seat in the car, an effect that is somewhat indescribable but at any volume seems to perfectly translate the music or, say, video soundtrack into a soundstage effect–you feel as if you’re standing in the crowd at a Dave Matthews concert.

Besides the electronics, there are so many more options we can’t go into here, but we should mention that all Maybachs can be ordered with extra-thick glass and other features that make them resistant to small arms fire. This is equivalent to the level of protection already offered on some Mercedes cars under the Guard program.

Front Seat

You might think the front seat wouldn’t matter with this car, but if you plan to get the 57, you will want to drive, trust us.

But be prepared. This isn’t only a big car, at 19 feet–it’s a big driver’s seat and cabin. If you’re big, that’s good, but if you’re smaller, at first you’ll feel dwarfed in the 57.

Even though the wheel and seat are completely adjustable, you need to drive for a few hours, not just sit at the wheel, to get comfortable.

That said, sitting here is a real joy. You get the same air-cooling and heating benefits of riding on the aft perches, plus steering-wheel heat, massage for your lumbar…and a very, very complicated navigation, audio and video control center at the heart of the dash. Maybach officials say they’re still tweaking these systems, but we hope by tweaking they mean simplifying.


You couldn’t drive this car without a co-pilot, as it is currently devised.

Otherwise, much of what you’ll find up front will be similar to what you might know from an S-Class. Only more so. The same black lacquer used for the switches in the back of the cabin are found up front, but there are more buttons, more chrome trim and more hand-done detail than in any S-Class.

The feeling is of being in a car that’s more modern than, say, a Bentley, but still one that’s devised with a sense of history.

We’d like to say it’s as special up front as it is in back, but if it were, you’d take your eyes off the road!

Oh yes, that old thing of steering the car and working the pedals. Well, as we said, you will want to drive your Maybach 57–for one thing because it’s fast, and for another, because it handles the way no 5,800-pound car ever has.

First, the speed.

The twin-turbo V-12 in the Maybach is just the definition of pure, seamless juice. It’s no Lamborghini or Ferrari (if you can afford this car you probably already have one of these toys in the garage anyway). But at autobahn speeds, where we tested the 57, its power for passing–maybe you want to hustle from 60 mph to 120 mph in a snap–is exhilarating.

A huge whomp of thrust kicks in as you floor it to blow by yet another lumbering truck or even a 5 series BMW, and you’re shot toward 150 mph and beyond with mighty ease.

What should also be said right here is that although you can hear the engine at such times of unbridled fuel consumption, otherwise this is the quietest car we’ve ever been in. And yet that doesn’t mean it feels removed from the road. As a driver, especially at speed, the Maybach maintains earnest grip, no doubt.

There is a sense of great control at 150 mph that we’ve never felt in any sports car, mostly because of the immense heft of the Maybach.

Steering too, even in the nastiest rain we had to plow through, remains quick and precise. And the brakes–some of the largest discs on any passenger car, by the way–are absolutely fantastic, with dual front calipers and a system that gently bites the discs in the wet so that water is wrung from the rotor even when your foot isn’t on the pedal. This doesn’t produce wear because no pressure is applied to the disc, but it does reduce stopping distances considerably.

One thing we would like is for the air suspension (auto ride leveling and dampening) to have a third, ultra-rigid setting. As it is, the car utilizes Mercedes’ Active Body Control system to counter roll force in a turn, and the car will knife through bends you’re not expecting it to make–or that you think a Forbes reporter would have any business attempting.

But the feeling isn’t as precise as we’d prefer. Yes, the driver can further stiffen the shock setting by touching a switch near the transmission to dial in a stiff and yet stiffer ride. And we did this. But the 57 is a tall, heavy car, and it sits on fairly high-sidewall, 19-inch Michelin tires.

No doubt this rubber is ideal for smooth travel over imperfect surfaces, but we think a lower sidewall and a stiffer suspension setting might allow for sharper, more confident cornering.

Purchasing a Maybach is complicated. First of all, the 70-some Maybach studios (located at top Mercedes-Benz dealers nationwide) won’t stock any cars. Rather, each car is commissioned, like a yacht.

At the studios, customers will talk with a Maybach liaison who will have at his or her disposal every possible color (painted on existing, wallet-sized metal swatches), and these can be combined magnetically with each other. That way you can see how a two-tone color combination car might look before you order.

Wood, leather and stone samples will also be shown to customers, so that they can feel the materials used for trim and seating.

Once the customer settles on a few possible combinations, the hypothetical car is punched into a high-powered computer program, and the vehicle is displayed on a wall-size screen. Customers can be shown every possible view of the car both inside and out and can ask to see different finishes or exterior colors so they can home in on precisely what they want.

After the car is commissioned, the order is expected to take about eight to ten months, although production for U.S. models will not begin until next March. Six weeks prior to completion of the car, a package will be sent to the customer confirming all materials, colors and options, at which point the customer can change some appointments should he or she desire.

The long wait for a Maybach, apparently, is fine with customers.

Professor Jürgen Hubbert . board member of DaimlerChrysler AG in charge of development, production, purchasing and sales of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars as well as the Maybach, says this customer is not only willing “to devote the time to get every detail right” in commissioning the car but also “understands that it takes a great deal of time to get a customized, handmade product.”

After all, Hubbert emphasized at a recent meeting with the press in Sindelfingen, Germany, where the Maybach will be built, “this customer already has everything you can imagine; they can and are even pleased to wait for what is akin to a business jet on wheels.”

Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars
Maybach Electric Cars

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