Gulf Dream: The Maybach 62S
With its stunning white paintwork and massively powerful engine, the superlative Maybach 62 uber-limo has been given a more sporting makeover whilst retaining its fabulous luxury amenities. Ian Kuah drives this palace on wheels in its natural home, the Emirate of Dubai.As with architecture, the form and detail of a car as perceived by onlookers is closely tied to the quality of light falling on it. Because color temperature and the angle of the sun change with latitude, the perception of how a car looks in a particular shade is altered too.
White cars are not popular in Northern Europe, where the mostly dull weather and flat light create a monochromatic experience. But in the Middle East and some parts of the USA where sunshine and blue skies predominate, white really comes alive.
In this hard, clear light, the form of a car or building is thrown into stark relief against the deep blue sky, while the hard shadows cast increase the contrast between an object and its surroundings.
Eyeballing the small group of Maybach 62S limousines parked neatly outside the five-star Al Qasr Madinat Hotel in Dubai, I dismissed the black and silver examples instantly.
Instead, my gaze locked on to the single white 62S in the line-up like a heat-seeking missile hunting down a flare. Even as my chauffeur for the day started to reposition the car in front of the courtyard for a photograph, I knew that my gut reaction was right.
The white Maybach limousine looked totally at ease in these majestic surroundings, calmly waiting for its VIP passengers to embark.
The imposing backdrop of monumental Arabian architecture provides a formidable distraction for any car, and the brightly-colored Ferraris and Porsches sitting on the other side of the front courtyard seemed like interlopers from another world.
In contrast, the white Maybach limousine looked totally at ease in these majestic surroundings, calmly waiting for its VIP passengers to embark and be driven away in style.
Where blue skies prevail, such in the Middle East, white cars come to life.
The test routes for the day suggested by our host involved either a tour through Dubai and on to the Bab Al Shams, the desert-based sister hotel of the Al Qasr, or a longer drive to the seven- star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the neighboring United Arab Emirate.
had been to Dubai twice before, staying at the Bab Al Shams last time round,
this option held little interest. But the chance to visit the Emirates Palace
Hotel, touted as the largest and most luxurious hotel in the world, piqued my
curiosity. Being conveyed from the Al Qasr to the Emirates Palace by Maybach
62S was icing on the cake in terms of both style and substance.
Human beings are very sensitive to their environment. Feeling at home in a particular place is very important to one’s state of mind; conferring calm and a sense of well-being. From this comes the ability to think rationally and productively. And to be inspired.
The world’s most luxurious hotel, the Emirates Palace Hotel.
As a means of supporting that state of tranquility, the Maybach 62 is the ultimate form of luxury ground transportation. While many stretched limousines offer room for four in the rear compartment, you would need a very long cabin indeed to accommodate passengers in comfort with a conference seating arrangement. So Maybach made the decision right from the start to use the available space exclusively for two, thus making the long-wheelbase 62 the most commodious and comfortable factory-made limousine in the world for its occupants. The unique selling point of this car is a pair of exceedingly comfortable rear seats that electrically recline to deliver airline business-class seat comfort to its occupants. In reality, the comfort level far exceeds the airline example because the soft leather-upholstered seats are better padded and have marvelous soft cushions that strap to each headrest. And because there is much more elbow room!With the Maybach 62S’ superb equilibrium, you are seldom aware of the road surface when being driven around.
As with the Maybach 57S, the 62S has the enhanced version of the basic 550 bhp, 5,513 cc liter twin-turbo V12 motor. Bored and stroked to 5,980 cc, this powerhaus of an engine now makes 612 bhp with a tectonic plate shifting 1,000 Nm of torque between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm.
Maybach point out that the ‘S’ stands for Special rather than Sports, but any car that can reach 100 km/h from rest in just 5.2 sec, cannot help but have a sporting bone or two in its body.
Unlike the 57S, which is electronically limited to 275 km/h, the 62S has its top speed restricted to 250 km/h. This is partly because 250 km/h is deemed quite fast enough for a car of this physical size and weight, but also partly because, unlike its smaller and more sporting 57S sister, the 62S retains the softer suspension settings of the normal 62.
However, the larger wheels and tires that the 62S shares with the 57S in no way detract from ride quality. If anything, we prefer the hint of better control conferred by the more advanced, lower profile 275/45R20 Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires on 8.5J x 20-inch alloy wheels.
Very seldom are you aware of the road surface. The Mercedes-derived Airmatic suspension guarantees that no badly-maintained road will shake or stir you in the way that airborne turbulence does. The long Maybach simply glides over the tarmac, occasionally hinting that there might be some disturbance down below.
This allows you to drink your wine, champagne or bottled water with little chance of it being decanted in your lap or the car's interior by an unexpected road imperfection. In this class of uber-limousine, impeccable ride quality is expected, and the long Maybach delivers. The result can be summed up in one word – equilibrium.
Reclined and relaxed in the cosseting rear cabin,
the hour-long trip to the Emirates Palace Hotel flew past and we soon found
ourselves on the approach road to a building that has a sheer physical
presence, even from afar, that beggars belief.
Before arriving at the main entrance, we pass the Ruler’s Entrance, a gated and secure approach built specifically for the local Royal Family to use. Its start is marked out by a 40-meter-high entrance arch that rivals the Arc de Triomphe for pomp and largesse. Incidentally, the ruling family have six private suites on the top floor of the hotel reserved just for them.
Built by the government of Abu Dhabi as the nation’s flagship hotel, the 243,000 square meter Kempinski-managed Emirates Palace is set on 100 hectares of landscaped gardens and has 1.3 km of private beach. About a kilometer long, the Hotel is a seriously large building, and a walk around the perimeter will give you 2.5 kilometers worth of exercise.
The Emirates Palace has two Maybach 57s in its 15-strong limousine fleet, and for those who wish to arrive by air or sea, there are two helicopter pads and a marina that provide private berths for yachts and super yachts. The government’s aim is to make this the best marina in the UAE.
We were shown around the hotel and everywhere we went, we saw Swarovski crystal. Even the doors in public areas had crystals embedded in the handles. But the pièce de résistance is the 1,002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers that festoon the hotel, of which the ballroom alone has 15.
With just 302 luxury rooms and 92 suites, guests benefit from a sense of space. This also means that distances from point-to-point are greater than in other hotels so there is a spa at the end of both east and west wings.
Our visit coincided with one of the 10,000 euro-a-night Palace Suites the hotel has 16 of these being unoccupied. The immense size and exquisite finishing of the reception rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms in this 680-meter-square suite makes most luxury apartments look small. At this level, size is everything, and with 50-inch plasma TVs in the bedrooms, it is no surprise that the reception rooms feature 61-inch screens.
For the return trip, I decided to see what the Maybach 62S was like from behind the wheel, arguably something an owner would rarely do since owner-drivers buy the 57S.
Like its shorter stable-mate, the 62S features the carbon-fiber and black piano-lacquer wood trim that I adore. Cheek-by-jowl with the cream leather, this looks modern and classy, and is more appealing to a younger audience for whom traditional wood is too staid.
Waftability is a term that has found its way into motoring parlance, but it was invented by the engineers at Rolls-Royce to describe the effortless acceleration of a luxury car from very low engine speeds. As an archrival to Rolls-Royce, there is no doubt that waftability is part of the Maybach remit as well.
However, the much more powerful Maybach has a Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. On the one hand, its drive-by-wire throttle is so finely tuned, you can step off from rest as smoothly and gracefully as the situation demands. And when the time comes to slow or stop, the SBC brakes allow you to modulate your retardation in an equally measured manner.
On the other hand, if you really need to hustle, the mighty engine makes a very good attempt at trying to change the laws of physics. The massive torque effortlessly picks up 2.85 tonnes of metal, glass, rubber, and leather, hurling them down the road at a rate that leaves many sports cars gasping for breath. This is truly the epitome of a mailed fist in a velvet glove.
back to Dubai on a light throttle was no effort at all, and as the sun began
its decline in the sky, we arrived back at the Al Qasr Hotel, our home away
Now it was time to prepare for dinner on the beach under the soaring mast of the Burj Al Arab, the other seven-star hotel in the UAE. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it!
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