We've all but assumed Maybach was a goner. With the economic downturn and sales hovering around the 300-unit mark annually, Mercedes-Benz' rebadged uber-lux brand makes a hard business case for itself. However, Automobile reports that Maybach may be down, but it's not out, and a range of new products are on the way.
With the S-Class due to be replaced in 2012, the range-topping Benz will offer up its revised platform for five new Maybach models. The standard 57 and 62 will benefit from upgraded sheet metal, interiors and electronics, while a CLS-like four-door "coupe" will be added to the line-up along with the oft-rumored long-wheelbase convertible – a sort of mash-up between the 62 Laundaulet and Mercedes' Ocean Drive concept from 2007.
Despite M-B's ongoing issues with CAFE standards, motivation will continue to be provided by the same 6.0-liter V12 powering current Maybachs, although horsepower is expected to rise, torque output could crest 850 pound-feet and Mercedes' seven-speed automatic will be part of the package.
More intriguingly, Automobile says that with the new transmission, an electric motor could be fitted, boosting output by 20 hp and allowing the massive sled to drive in full electric mode for up to 10 miles. There's also talk of a new nine-speed automatic transmission being fitted and fuel economy rising by around 25% – so figure around a 2-3 mpg improvement for both the 545-hp and 630-hp versions.
In order for Maybach to survive, it has to be more than just a reworked S-Class and to that end, an insider told Automobile that future models will be "jewels on wheels and at last worthy of the brand." We shall see...