The Maybach is a luxury barge owned by a select few around the world. And if there's one thing in common between these men and women ' besides the car of course ' it's big bucks. Most Maybach owners certainly aren't the type to drive themselves around ' never mind that the car has every amenity possible in terms of driving aids. Indeed, it is meant for the owner to be driven around in luxurious comfort, while no doubt, chauffeurs will be trying their best to keep the mighty Maybach unscratched and dent-free.
When it comes to repair bills, the most expensive car in the world brings along with it the most expensive repair bills. So imagine the chauffeur's stress levels, especially in the Indian context! I remember a time when someone's Mercedes-Benz E220 was smashed up and the resulting repair bill would've actually paid for a new, small car. Naturally the mind boggles at what it would cost to repair a Maybach!
For the record, the standard Maybach has a V12 engine. It is a 5.5-litre unit and with two turbochargers, it develops 550bhp at 5,250rpm and 900Nm at 2,300rpm. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a five-speed auto box and the top speed is electronically limited to 250kmph ' a decent turn of speed for a car that weighs over 2.7 tonnes. But that is of no consequence to the speeding set, who are the sort who'd happily modify anything they can lay their hands on for better performance. Remember the sheikh in his Rolls-Royce in one of the Cannonball Run films' For people like that and for where the roads are nice and the people know how to drive responsibly, there are two new Maybachs worth a gander.
Both have been modified, by rival specialist companies ' Brabus and AMG. Both are specialists in tuning DaimlerChrysler cars, starting from the A-Class to the S-Class and everything in between. But the Maybach is much more than an S-Class, as everybody knows. And both tuning companies have gone in for more than increasing the engine power by trying to add value (as if it was required) to the cars. The Brabus SV12 engine in the shorter Maybach 57 makes it accelerate from 0-100kmph in just 4.9 seconds. Moreover, in high-speed testing by the German car magazine Auto Motor Und Sport on the famous test track in Nardo, Italy, the tuned luxury barge cruised to a top speed of 314 kmph. This was mainly due to the engine modifications: a special crankshaft with a longer stroke and precision-balanced piston rods and pistons with larger diameters. Cylinder bore was increased accordingly and with the increased engine capacity, from 5.5 litres to 6.3 litres, peak power and torque of the SV12 engine rose to 640bhp and 1,026Nm respectively.
Brabus also precision-machined the cylinder heads, and installed custom camshafts. The ECU chip mapping was changed for the engine electronics, and a new exhaust system with metal catalysts was put in. To handle this increase in performance, Brabus suspension engineers have employed custom-made forged 21-inch Brabus Monoblock VI light-alloy wheels with six double spokes on the rear axle. The corresponding tyres, 275/40 R 21 in front and 315/35 R 21 at the rear are by Dunlop. Additionally, the Brabus car's ride height has been lowered by using a special Brabus-developed air suspension. This apart, Brabus has also tried to make the car feature-rich ' auxiliary headlights integrated into the front end, keyless-entry remote LED lights integrated into the body that are activated and illuminate the ground on either side and behind to prevent the sedan going into a hole or puddle in the dark. It's also an office-on-wheels with monitors displaying the signal of an integrated computer, custom-developed and equipped with an 80 gigabyte hard drive. The computer is connected to the Internet via UMTS (proprietary Mercedes technology) and has a wireless keyboard and optical mouse.
One can remain online even after exiting the vehicle thanks to the integrated IBM X Series notebook computer in an electrically-operated drawer in the trunk. The computer is connected to the PC network of the car using a W-LAN.
Not to be left behind, AMG has come up with the Maybach 57S (Special). Its 6.0litre engine develops 612bhp and allows acceleration from 0-100kmph in just five seconds. Torque is up too, at 1000Nm which means sporty drivers can now benefit from better in-gear acceleration. The chassis has been upgraded to improve the ride and handling. The interior features leather appointments while the exterior gets a monochrome paint job in black and silver, exclusively for the S. The front is slightly modified with a new grille. The wheels are 20 inches in diameter with a multi-spoke design.
It would be interesting if either of these two cars make it to Indian shores. If they do, chauffeurs will, no doubt, be under even more stress.
My first car
I am not really a car junkie. Of course, I do stay in touch with the newest and latest in cars and automobiles but that's just a cursory interest. In fact, in Mumbai I never drive a car, as I am petrified of the traffic snarls.
Having said that, my first car, which also happens to be my current one, is something I just can't do without. It's a Maruti Zen that I bought almost two years ago, but it's still in excellent condition and continues to give me great service. I've got it fitted with a music system, since I work odd hours and enjoy listening to music. And of course, I'm extremely particular about keeping my car spic and span at all times.
Even though I've had it for quite some time, I have no immediate intentions of giving my car up. Of course, if my dream car, a Toyota Corolla, were to come my way, I wouldn't think twice about changing my mind!
AS TOLD TO SANGHAMITRA BHOWMIK