The death of the ultra-exclusive Maybach brand left Daimler AG in a quandary: how to compete against rivals like BMW-owned Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen’s Bentley. The plan calls for stretching the time-tested Mercedes-Benz brand even further up-market – even as it also dips lower than ever into the luxury segment with the likes of the new CLA and GLA models starting at under $30,000. Pushing its top price to 10 times that much is going to be a real test of the Mercedes tri-star’s pulling power.
We’re getting a sense of how the German maker plans to do it with this week’s launch of the new Mercedes-Benz S600. It’s the latest – and soon to be most-expensive – version of the flagship S-Class offered. But it won’t have that distinction for long. The new S600 sets the stage for the launch, later this year, of the Pullman, the stretch model that will be the true replacement for the old, and largely unloved Maybach.
If the new S600 is the scene-setter, it does so in grand fashion. While there are plenty of new, high-line touches, the heart of the new beast is its bi-turbo V-12 engine which powers a sedan offered only in long-wheelbase form with a luxurious complement of equipment full of the latest connectivity and active safety technology as will as other advanced features Mercedes hopes will justify a price tag that could top $150,000. (more…)