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Six-Figure Saloons

Three of the finest ubersedans ever built square off in a superluxury shootout.

Mercedes-Benz revives its fabled Maybach luxury marque in the new Mercedes-Maybach S600.

2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600: The Rebirth of Maybach
Move over Karl Benz, Mercedes’ new ultraexclusive luxury sedan ditches the Benz name in favor of Maybach, a brand moniker that was last used for Mercedes-produced luxury saloons back in 2012. This auto, introduced as the Mercedes-Maybach S600, serves as the brand’s new flagship supersedan and uses the Maybach name to designate its elevated exclusivity within the Mercedes-Benz vehicle portfolio.

Measuring 214.6 inches, the Mercedes-Maybach is about 8 inches longer than the standard S-Class sedan and is even longer than the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Mulsanne. This added length is most noticeable in the back, where the Mercedes-Maybach excels at pampering its rear passengers with unmatched levels of comfort and space. Standard rear executive seats come with a slew of electronic adjustments, including extendable thigh rests and a heel support function. Thanks to an innovative seat cushion airbag that prevents passengers from sliding underneath the seatbelt in the event of an accident, rear-seat occupants are now able to recline up to 43.5 degrees for an unrivaled level of rest and relaxation. As if it couldn’t get better, the Mercedes-Maybach also has the quietest rear seat area of any vehicle currently in production.

From the outside, the Mercedes-Maybach sports the most contemporary design of this group. To the untrained eye, the Mercedes-Maybach looks almost identical to an S-Class. However, there are a few subtle marks of distinction, including Maybach lettering on the trunk and a Maybach badge on the C-pillar, revealing without a doubt that this is not your neighbor’s S-Class. In addition, Mercedes shortened the rear door by 2.6 inches, which places the back seats well behind the rear door opening, creating a heightened sense of privacy and exclusivity for rear-seat occupants. While certainly stylish, the Mercedes-Maybach doesn’t command the same level of attention at the valet that the Rolls-Royce and Bentley do.

Powering the Mercedes-Maybach is a 6.0-liter biturbo V12 that puts out 523 horsepower and 612 lb.-ft. of torque. A 7G-tronic plus automatic transmission propels the Mercedes-Maybach from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat, placing it just ahead of the Bentley. On the road, the Mercedes-Maybach provides the smoothest ride of the bunch, thanks to its highly sophisticated Magic Body Control system. Special stereo cameras constantly scan the road ahead for any surface irregularities, and when a potential bump is detected, the suspension automatically adjusts itself to counteract any undulation in the road before the vehicle traverses the bump, thereby virtually eliminating roughness. The result is simply astounding and dramatically increases ride comfort for drivers and passengers alike.

The Mercedes-Maybach S600’s interior, awash with large LCD screens, LED mood lighting and electronically tinted glass, offers a starkly different take on luxury than both the Bentley and Rolls-Royce. The British duo represent a certain established version of sophistication, while the Mercedes-Maybach takes on a younger, arguably trendier and techier vibe. While both design approaches work marvelously well, if you thrive on having the latest technology, then you’ll appreciate the highly advanced 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600.

BOTTOM LINE Unmatched automotive technology combined with an attractive price point make the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 a credible threat to the more established players in this ultracompetitive segment.

Base Price: $189,350
Engine: 6.0-liter biturbo V12
Horsepower: 523 hp @ 4,900 rpm
Torque: 612 lb.-ft. @ 1,900 rpm
Transmission: 7G-tronic plus
Cargo capacity: 16.2 cu. ft.
City fuel economy: 12 mpg est.
Highway fuel economy: 20 mpg est.
Fuel tank: 23.2 gal.
Weight: 5,200 lbs. est.
0 to 60 mph: 5.0 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph

2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II: Entertaining Ecstasy
New for 2015, the Ghost Series II brings numerous updates to Rolls-Royce’s successful luxury sedan, changes that make this decadent land yacht as appealing as ever.

Far and away, the Ghost Series II is the luxury sedan in this group that makes the biggest first impression. Nothing compares to pulling up in a Rolls-Royce, with its signature rear-hinged coach doors, oversize radiator grille and self-righting wheel centers that keep the Rolls-Royce logo from spinning along with your tires. New, more streamlined LED headlamps make a striking visual statement up front and are the easiest way to spot a Series II. For a truly jaw-dropping look, opt for the silver matte-finish hood. The Ghost Series II is a real statement piece and is not shy about broadcasting its driver’s success to the world.

At your beck and call is an impressive 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine that generates 563 horsepower and 575 lb.-ft. of torque. Enormously powerful, the 5,445-pound Ghost Series II accelerates effortlessly and practically silently from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.8 seconds, putting it at the front of the pack in this comparison. An innovative satellite-aided eight-speed automatic transmission uses GPS data to anticipate gear selections based on upcoming terrain, creating an unmatched level of smoothness for barely noticeable shifts.

The Ghost Series II’s sophisticated air suspension system glides over even the most pockmarked roads, though it’s not as preternaturally smooth as the Mercedes-Maybach’s road-scanning suspension system. Body roll is noticeable, especially when you push the Ghost Series II through corners, but the sensation is a reasonable tradeoff given its silky smooth ride. Dual-pane glass combines with carefully placed soundproofing materials to virtually eliminate road noise, making the interior of the Ghost Series II a place of supreme quiet and calm.

Inside, it’s classic Rolls-Royce opulence with book-matched wood veneers and hand-selected leathers on display. It takes nine carefully selected hides to completely outfit the Ghost Series II’s interior and only cows raised in pastures free from barb wire will do for Rolls-Royce. A new crystal glass rotary knob is capped by the famous Spirit of Ecstasy figurine and functions as a touch pad, allowing you to input letters and numbers with your fingertips. An onboard concierge system also makes inputting destinations and finding points of interest quick and easy. Sitting in the back feels like you’re lounging on a living room sofa with plenty of room to stretch, even though the standard wheelbase Ghost Series II offers slightly less legroom than the others.

BOTTOM LINE The 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II makes a serious statement while offering truly decadent, first-class transportation.

Base Price: $286,750
Engine: 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12
Horsepower: 563 hp @ 5,250 rpm
Torque: 575 lb.-ft. @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Cargo capacity: 17.3 cu. ft.
City fuel economy: 13 mpg
Highway fuel economy: 20 mpg
Fuel tank: 21.8 gal.
Weight: 5,445 lbs.
0 to 60 mph: 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph

2015 Bentley Mulsanne: Authentic Luxury
The most meticulously crafted and technologically advanced Bentley ever conceived, the 2015 Mulsanne is a rolling work of art that has set the standard by which all other luxury vehicles are judged. The Mulsanne is Bentley’s flagship, replacing the Arnage at the top of the brand’s ultraexclusive vehicle lineup.

This vehicle is all about tasteful, understated opulence. Its design is purposefully more discreet than the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II and not as overtly modern as the Mercedes-Maybach S600. From its long hood with its dazzling, circular jewel-like LED headlamps to its powerful rear haunches, the Mulsanne defines rolling elegance. A stainless-steel grille up front is classic Bentley, as is the flying “B” logo that adorns the hood. In back, red floating LED taillamps look like nothing else on the road.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Mulsanne is a real driver’s car to boot. Though its 6.75-liter V8 is four cylinders shy of the engines found in the S600 and Ghost, the Mulsanne’s massive 752 lb.-ft. of torque available at just 1,750 rpm feels more than adequate to add some thrill to your ride. In fact, the Mulsanne is just a tenth of a second behind the Mercedes in the sprint from 0 to 60 mph, completing the task in 5.1 seconds—impressive, especially considering the Mulsanne weighs nearly 6,000 pounds. Despite its heft, the Bentley flagship moves like a car that weighs half its size, thanks to electronic dampers that help keep its weight in control. While not quite as smooth as its Mercedes competitor with its Magic Body Control system, the Mulsanne is on par with the Ghost and does a tremendous job eliminating most road noise. However, all of that weight does play a role in fuel economy, where the Mulsanne comes up as the thirstiest of the bunch with an EPA rating of just 18 mpg highway.

Nothing tops the craftsmanship that’s on display inside this automobile. Authenticity of materials further distinguishes the Mulsanne’s interior. For example, if it looks like glass or metal, then it’s actually glass or metal, not plastic with a metal-like coating. The switches that control the radio and the climate controls are made of real glass, unlike the glass-like buttons used in the Ghost. It takes Bentley’s finest craftspeople almost 200 hours to create a single Mulsanne interior.

In back, the Mulsanne easily converts into a mobile office with optional Bluetooth keyboards built into tray tables that slide out from the front seats. When you’re done working, sit back and enjoy a massage or the excellent 2,200-watt optional 20-speaker NAIM audio system. While you can’t stretch out to the degree you can in the limo-like Mercedes-Maybach, the Mulsanne offers opulent surroundings for the most discerning of passengers.

BOTTOM LINE While the 2015 Bentley Mulsanne commands a high base price, its timeless design, brand cachet and unmatched craftsmanship justify its lofty sticker.

Base Price: $303,700
Engine: 6.75-liter twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 505 hp @ 4,200 rpm
Torque: 752 lb.-ft. @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Cargo capacity: 15.6 cu. ft.
City fuel economy: 11 mpg
Highway fuel economy: 18 mpg
Fuel tank: 25.4 gal.
Weight: 5,919 lbs.
0 to 60 mph: 5.1 seconds
Top Speed: 184 mph