With the minivan now dethroned by sport utility vehicles and crossovers as the king of family transportation, we’ve run into a problem. Larger three-row SUVs can be expensive, while their more affordable counterparts frequently sacrifice cargo space and comfort to accommodate that last row of seats. Another issue is that adults who decided to spawn four children are forced to interact with them during long drives by occupying the same cabin.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if a manufacturer invented a vehicle that could solve most of these problems? Well, some already have. Limousines have been around for ages and it’s ludicrous that they haven’t been co-opted for family use. But, if you’re going to purchase a high-end luxury transport specifically for road trips with the brood, you had better make sure it’s so decadently comfortable and quiet in the back that they can’t help but fall asleep. That’s why the perfect family vehicle is probably the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S650.
Granted, the long-wheelbase version of the already lengthened variant of the S-Class isn’t intended for familial use. It’s supposed signal the wealth of overachieving business persons. But exceedingly wealthy parents who think way outside the box might find it worthy of double duty.
Returning from the dead in 2014, Mercedes’ ultra-luxury Maybach sub-brand has become the only way to make absolutely certain you’ve purchased highest-spec S-class in existence.
There was a problem, however. With the exception of a handful of subtle visual cues, there was no way to distinguish it from the standard fare. While a single glance at the interior would obliterate any doubt that this car was a cut above the norm, external indicators were dependent on the vehicle’s added length and badging.
That’s no way to arrive at a high-profile event, so Mercedes-Maybach has decided to guarantee the rest of society is aware you’re riding in something special via a new grille and optional two-tone paintwork. The updated visuals certainly separates the Maybach-branded S-Class from the rest of Daimler’s lineup, but it also might make it too reminiscent of the cars that ultimately forced the brand into an early grave.
Contrasting paint hasn’t been commonplace on automobiles in over half a century, but it appears to be regaining some of its lost momentum lately. Everything from the Bugatti Chiron to the Toyota Camry offers separate bodywork hues these days.
Of course, we don’t know if this is a trend poised to explode across the industry or something that will be relegated to a handful of models before fizzling out. However, with new crossovers like the Volkswagen T-Roc, Range Rover Velar, and Volvo XC40 available with contrasting rooflines, it seems ready to enjoy at least 15 minutes of fame.
Three and a half years ago, I found myself blitzing down Wilshire Boulevard behind the wheel of what was then the only Rolls-Royce Wraith in the country. There was much to admire about the car: the saturnine (as in Saturn V, not the dour deity) thrust of the blown V-12, the transcendent sound system, the Starlight Headliner that makes every late-night date a romantic one. Truth be told, I expected all of that. What I did not expect was to be utterly smitten by the Wraith’s two-tone paintjob.
What was the last mass-market passenger car to be sold in the United States with an optional two-color finish? Don’t tell me that it was the ’90s Explorer Eddie Bauer, because I don’t want to think about that despicable slug of a trucklet. Perhaps it was the ’80s Town Car? The bustleback Seville? And could two-tone paint jobs ever make a comeback? I think they might, and I’ll tell you why.
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