Maybach is Mercedes-Benz's ultra-luxury brand intended to compete with Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

The Maybach 62 (pronounced "MY-bock") is the top model -- an extended version of the 57 sedan -- and is among the most opulent and expensive cars on the planet. It has every conceivable luxury, plus some you wouldn't think of, such as clamps that hold the included Robbe & Berking solid-silver champagne flutes to the center rear console so their bubbly contents won't spill onto the velour carpeting.

All 2006 Maybach models now come with a standard parking-assist system that combines sonar proximity sensors with a rear-mounted video camera that shows the view from the trunk-lid handle on the vehicle's dashboard display. A newly optional business package can turn the vehicle into an office on wheels and includes a wireless dual-port router that can connect to the Internet via a cell phone network. A built-in color printer with Bluetooth wireless connectivity is also available.

Unlike the shorter 57 model, which masquerades as a car that owners might actually drive -- though Maybach says hardly any owners ever do -- the extended 62 model is intended as a chauffeur's car. The backseat area is absolutely enormous, with nearly 17 inches more rear legroom than on the 57. As is the case with yachts, the numeric nomenclature refers to the cars' lengths -- 5.73 meters for the Maybach 57 and 6.16 meters for the Maybach 62.

An outrageously long list of standard amenities includes front massaging seats, power door closers, fully reclining rear seats with a refrigerator built into the center console, power side-window curtains and no less than 10 airbags. An even more outrageous list of options includes a $14,800 glass roof with an integrated solar-powered ventilation system and electro-luminescent technology that varies the opacity of the glass.

A hand-built 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine generates 543 hp, which enables the enormous Maybach 62 to reach 60 mph from a standstill in 5.4 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph -- this despite its 6,340-pound curb weight. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability and a choice of Sport and Comfort modes remains the only available gearbox. It adapts shift patterns to driving style. The Maybach 62 gets 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.

The 62 offers a bevy of advanced chassis-control systems, such as stability and traction control. Its standard air suspension includes driver-selectable ride-height control and a sport mode that favors slightly improved handling over ultimate ride comfort. A sophisticated electronic antilock braking system controls brake pressure individually at each wheel in response to changing road conditions and handling circumstances; it includes a "Soft Stop" feature that's intended to take the jolt out of abrupt low-speed stops, such as in stop-and-go traffic.

For added exclusivity, customers don't merely buy a Maybach, they commission them to their own specifications using an interactive computer simulator and a 50-inch widescreen plasma video screen, along with various paint, leather and wood samples. With a daily output of two cars, it takes about five months for the factory to build each vehicle.

The Maybach 57 and 62 debuted as 2004 models.

Did You Know ...

The Maybach name honors Wilhelm Maybach, who worked with Gottlieb Daimler in the late 19th century to build the first cars with internal combustion engines. Wilhelm's son Karl was an engineer who developed and put the Maybach brand name on 1,800 of the company's custom-built luxury cars from 1921 to 1941.

Is the Maybach 62 for You?

Buy this Vehicle if - You're looking for a roomy, plush and exceedingly coddling ultra-luxury car in which to be driven; you want to own a car few others can or will.

Keep Looking if - You had to let the chauffer go for financial reasons; you prefer more elegant styling, in which case the Bentley Arnage RL and Rolls-Royce Phantom are worth considering; you care about fuel economy.

Who Fits? - Four adults will find the 62 more than sufficiently spacious and comfortable; a fifth occupant can fit in the back with the $15,000 three-place rear seating option, but you'll have to forgo the otherwise-standard refrigerator, bottle holder, champagne flute holder and upper storage compartment.

Options Worth Splurging on - For added privacy, a retractable glass partition between the front and rear seats with a power-operated curtain and a front-rear intercom system ($29,500). Match exterior paint to any color swatch for an extra $20,450.


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