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Review: Rolls-Royce Phantom or Maybach?

 
Old 03-10-2003, 12:13 AM
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Review: Rolls-Royce Phantom or Maybach?

By Juergen Zoellter















According to a recent survey by a leading building society, the average house price in Britain is 125,000. But if you drive either of these cars, chances are you don't live in an average house - which is a good job, as each one will set you back the cost of two such dwellings and, in fairness, is probably about the same size.

For the first time, Auto Express has put the two most elaborate saloons ever built side-by-side to see which has the upper-class upper hand. But before firing up the engines, it's important to understand the story behind the simultaneous arrival of two such cars. You have to go back to 1998, when Rolls-Royce was a struggling subsidiary of British Aerospace, building Silver Seraphs, plus Bentley Arnages and Continentals for moneyed traditionalists. Meanwhile, Mercedes was embarking on a quest to make the world's finest saloon. Not content with the vast S-Class, it wanted to tap into the booming economy with a huge, unyielding giant to stand alone at the top of the automotive tree. This ultimate car was to wear the legendary Maybach badge - last used in the Thirties.

Both BMW and VW were interested in buying Rolls-Royce, as they felt it was the only brand with enough history and status to take on Mercedes in the executive car superleague. After a long, tedious dispute, the Crewe-based firm fell to both VW and BMW, with the blue propeller winning the rights to the R-R branding and its German rival taking the rest of the firm, including Bentley.

It's now four years since the deals were done, and from January the divorce between Rolls-Royce and Bentley finally became official. There are a few Crewe-built run-out Seraphs finding their way to new owners, but from now on all Rollers are built in an underground facility at Goodwood, Sussex, while Bentley production concentrates on the Continental GT.

First deliveries of the Maybach and Phantom are now underway, as the pair try to woo the world's richest buyers - but, given the money, which would you choose? Starting with the Rolls, there's no denying this is one of the most striking, imposing cars ever made. The vast body and rectangular lights give it an awkward look, but it grows on you - the slab sides, huge wheels and chrome adornments are at least distinctive. The theme continues with a lavish interior, every conceivable extra and the most comfortable seats ever to grace a car.

Some owners will be driven around, and from the chauffeur's seat the R-R won't disappoint. The smooth six-speed auto gearbox, light power-steering and commanding seating position combine to make the Phantom easier to drive than its size suggests. Out on the open road, it's very relaxing. The ride is near-perfect, absorbing all but the biggest potholes yet avoiding the sloppy, overly soft feel of previous Rolls-Royces.

But this is no sports saloon. BMW says the computer-aided air-suspension delivers great body control, yet the car's weight, proportions and detached driving experience hardly inspire confidence. There are also large blind spots either side of the rear compartment, and it's difficult to predict where the edges are.

The back-hinged doors are irritating, too. While touted as a big selling point, they don't open wide enough, so rear access is poor: you need to duck under the roof and get both legs in before sitting down. But once inside, there's no need to shut the door - simply press a button and it glides silently into place.

The Maybach, on the other hand, is more practical and less ostentatious. From the outside, the styling could even be described as bland. It's imposing, but pales into insignificance alongside the Rolls, thanks to its plain front grille and light arrangement, which resembles an over-inflated Hyundai Sonata.

But buyers seeking an elaborate interior won't be disappointed. The Maybach is sumptuous, with three TVs, two built-in phones and a slide-out work surface in the rear, plus seats which massage your back and upper thighs.

Up front, the luxury continues, with soft leather, polished chestnut veneer trimmings and a soft-touch dash. Road noise is minimal, thanks to thick soundproof cladding inside each panel, double glazing and special low-resistance tyres. On the move, the Maybach feels more dynamically sorted than the Rolls. The ride is firmer, the steering more direct and the body more composed - if not particularly sporty. The weight and awkward length create the same problems as the Phantom in town, although the car offers better all-round visibility.

Performance is better, too, as the Maybach is marginally lighter and noticeably quicker. Its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12 delivers a kick in the back if you floor the throttle, covering 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds - faster than a Porsche Boxster S! It may be too much for a car of this size, but the engineers insisted that the Maybach have performance to match its price. So which motorised mansion is the better buy - and is either worth selling your country estate for?

In truth, the choice is down to taste. The Phantom is bold, brash and ornately designed, while the Maybach favours clean, modern, Mercedes-style lines. You'd pick the Rolls to impress, but the Maybach is the better driver's car. As each can be ordered to the buyer's specific taste, a lot depends on which style suits you. If we had spent that much on a car, though, we would want it to look good. We'd take the silver lady home.
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Old 03-10-2003, 03:44 PM
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Im sorry...really, REALLY sorry...but those cars are shit-ugly (from the outside)...for $300k..you can do a lot better than that...id rather opd for a 760 limo or something...
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Old 03-10-2003, 06:25 PM
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that rolls is nasty....shame on BMW!

I really love the Maybach....and don't worry...it still stands out!
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Old 03-10-2003, 07:42 PM
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and gav, when is the next bentley sedan coming out? Will they keep the Arnage name?
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Old 03-11-2003, 03:22 PM
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my uncle just sold a Maybach, he was telling me how they go about it. apparently the dealers that get one get a list of rediculously rich people in the area, and call them and ask about their interest in the car. THEY offer YOU the car. and then they took the guy on a all expenses paid trip to stutgart to drive the car and make his decision.

apparently this guy wouldnt buy the Maybach unless he also got a SL55 for sticker, you know, to save money and all.
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Old 03-11-2003, 04:12 PM
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Originally posted by ItalianStallion
my uncle just sold a Maybach, he was telling me how they go about it. apparently the dealers that get one get a list of rediculously rich people in the area, and call them and ask about their interest in the car. THEY offer YOU the car. and then they took the guy on a all expenses paid trip to stutgart to drive the car and make his decision.

apparently this guy wouldnt buy the Maybach unless he also got a SL55 for sticker, you know, to save money and all.
Do you know if there will be any independent maybach dealers or will all be attached to select MB dealers?
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Old 03-12-2003, 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by ItalianStallion


apparently this guy wouldnt buy the Maybach unless he also got a SL55 for sticker, you know, to save money and all.
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Old 03-12-2003, 06:13 PM
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They aren't meant to be preety. They are meant to be status symbols.
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Old 03-12-2003, 06:43 PM
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i think they would sell all through benz dealers i guess, i mean they arent exactly mass producing this, its something like 300 a year isnt it?

o yeah, and i'd hit the Maybach like its nobody's business.
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Old 03-15-2003, 01:26 AM
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They are both rather ugly, the Maybach looks like a big fucking Buick with that ridiculous looking grill. Great, a $300k fancy Sclass with reclining rear seats.....you can keep it. I fail to see the advantage over an S600 TT, besides Name.

The Rolls is a more imposing car, its just not that good looking. But that's RR tradition, they were never "that" gorgeous.

It definitely wins the "Fuck you, I have more money than you ever will" look contest.

Also, that Rolls interior has grown on me very much....really is a class act. Makes the Maybach interior look a little Euro trashy.
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Old 03-15-2003, 07:23 AM
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They are both rather ugly, the Maybach looks like a big fucking Buick with that ridiculous looking grill. Great, a $300k fancy Sclass with reclining rear seats.....you can keep it. I fail to see the advantage over an S600 TT, besides Name.
Ditto. The European mags are trashing these cars as just pure ignorance. Ugly and just ugly. I guess beats renting a LIMO or something.
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Old 03-16-2003, 03:32 PM
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id hit both, i dont think the maybach exterior looks AMAZING, but its not ugly either...

the RR is pimp,

though red is right, these cars are status symbols...not meant to look hot, just different.

if i had to choose, i'l take the one that has the umbrella in the door
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