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RPM TV Website | December 11, 2017

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Extravagant Mercedes-Maybach concept mixes art-deco excess with green credentials

Extravagant Mercedes-Maybach concept mixes art-deco excess with green credentials
Deon Schoeman

It’s just short of six metres long, features yards of glossy sheet metal and acres of chrome. And yet, it only has two seats.

Mercedes-Benz calls its latest creation the ultimate in luxury. Others might consider the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet little more than a vulgar expression of extravagance.

But wait, let’s not pass judgement so quickly. For motoring enthusiasts, the art deco-inspired two-seater concept car is, at the very least, a fascinating interpretation of automotive art. Yes, it’s a crowd pleaser, meant to outshine the brightest stars at last week’s high-profile Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Still, how relevant is a swaggering, Gotham City-style behemoth when the motoring world is supposed to be focusing on saving the planet by reducing emissions and, in the foreseeable future, even ridding the world of the internal combustion engine completely?

Very relevant, as it turns out – but not because of its sheer size, its bespoke craftsmanship or its no-hold-barred luxury. The concept’s trump card is its drivetrain: an all-electric affair with a claimed operating range of more than 500 km.

The battery array is slim and flat enough to be accommodated in the concept’s underbody, ensuring a low centre of gravity, which in turn aids handling.

No less than four synchronous electric motors – one for each wheel – provide all-wheel drive urge, with a combined output of 550 kW. That’s enough shove to earn the low-slung cabriolet membership of the muscle car club, with performance to match.

Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100 km/h sprint time of under 4 seconds, and a 250 km/h top speed, although exercising those dynamic credentials to the max will take big bites out of the majestic Maybach’s claimed operating range.

Not that range anxiety should be an issue: a quick-charge function using a DC system rated at up to 350 kW allows the a top-up range of 100 km in just five minutes.

Advanced technology is also high on the concept car’s agenda. The switchgear employs touch-sensitive controls, while intelligent navigation integrates with the driver’s calendar and appointment schedule.

A concierge function allows conversational commands and requests, much like Apple’s Siri, while biometric sensors monitor the health of the vehicle’s occupants. The latter may be considered too invasive by some …

Yes, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet was a crowd-stopper at Pebble Beach, thanks to its head-turning styling and over-the-top proportions, its lavish interior and its in-your-face excess.

But beyond giving its maker some bragging rights at a high-profile motoring event frequented by the rich and famous, the show car’s real significance is vested in the under-the-skin tech – tech that will find its way into less extravagant production cars in the not too distant future.

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