2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed vs.
2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600
Mercedes made luxury waves recently by reviving the Maybach nameplate. Again. Quick history lesson: Before World War II, Maybach was a German luxury car brand. During the war it built Panzer tank engines. In the late 1990s, after rivals BMW and Volkswagen respectively snatched up Rolls-Royce and Bentley, Mercedes-Benz decided it needed its own ultra-luxury player, so it dusted off the long-dormant Maybach badge and produced ultra-pricey, ultra-powerful vehicles that not enough 1 percenters wanted. Seriously, less than 50 Maybachs were sold in the U.S. in 2011. So Mercedes decided to "sunset" the brand, my favorite-ever euphemism. However, the more things change, the more things change right back again. In late 2014, Daimler fired up the defibrillator once more and showed the world the Mercedes-Maybach S600.
Over in England, one could make the case that Bentley had been running in zombie mode from 1931 (when Rolls bought it) right up until the recently departed Ferdinand Piëch stapled the British luxury brand into Volkswagen's portfolio during the waning years of the Clinton administration. Sure, some of those pre-Piëch Arnages were pretty sweet, but they were just Rolls-Royces with potent, turbocharged engines. All that changed when the Germans took over, though I suppose one could argue that the Continental GT is just a short-wheelbase, two-door VW Phaeton. The Mulsanne, however, introduced at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, shares virtually nothing with nobody. Big, imposing, with a hand-wrought interior and an incredibly potent 6.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 under its bonnet, the Mulsanne is ex-Bentley boss Franz-Josef Paefgen's departing salvo. Last year, Bentley decided that 752 lb-ft of torque wasn't nearly enough, so it launched the Mulsanne Speed with 811 lb-ft of twist. This, my friends, is a proper matchup.