THE crumbling Zimbabwean economy and all its problems has not deterred the affluent and monied folks in Harare from bringing in two more head-turning beasts of the road: a Mercedes-Maybach s650 and Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV have just landed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare.
Well, a car is just plastic and metal, some would say. Not until you consider how luxurious the palatial Mercedes-Maybach S-class truly is.
Passengers can stretch out and relax on hot-stone-style massaging leather recliners and enjoy the Burmester audio system while an atomizer fills the cabin with one of Maybach’s five signature fragrances.
The Maybach S650’s 621-hp twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 provide effortless motivation, what with a starting price of a cool $240,000, MINIMUM. Despite the ominous appearance of quad exhaust pipes and ‘V12’ lettering on the front wings, the engine need never be heard; Mercedes describes the Maybach as the world’s quietest production saloon car, and it may well be right.
The list of luxuries is long and – inevitably – focused on enhancing passenger comfort while the chauffeur (who is one of the few items not available as standard but will almost inevitably be installed post-delivery) focuses on getting from A to B.
The standard equipment list includes a chrome twin exhaust system, LED headlights, a sliding panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and go, run-flat tyres, tinted rear windows and a 360-degree camera sytem on the outside.
Inside there is velour floor mats, Mercedes’ Air Balance fragance system, ventilated front and rear seats, electric sunblinds, electrically adjustable and massaging seats, a glass cabinet, four-zone climate control, reclining rear seats, and heated armrests and steering wheel.
On the entertainment front there is Mercedes-Benz 12.3 inch Command infotainment system complete with sat nav, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, DAB radio, Wi-fi hotspot and a TV tuner, alongside a rear entertainment package which includes 10in screens, a DVD player and wireless headphones.
The other car to land at Harare today is the Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV…. This is Rolls-Royce’s very first SUV, named after the largest diamond ever found. Sporting rear suicide doors and an opulent cabin, the Cullinan commands a starting price around $325,000—and for good reason.
The spacious cabin is lined in box-grain leather, lambs-wool carpeting, beautiful wood trim, and milled-aluminum accents.
For an even higher level of luxury, Rolls-Royce will customize almost every part of the Cullinan’s already lavish interior with whatever the buyer can imagine. The exterior is classic Rolls-Royce, but its hatchback configuration allows for the addition of a pair of leather-wrapped seats and a picnic table that pop out of the Cullinan’s tailgate—this is by far the most luxurious way to take in a polo match at the country estate.
The Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV as seen at Harare Airport Monday afternoon
Its twin-turbo 6.7-liter V-12 provides 563 effortless horsepower and runs as whisper-quiet as you would expect, lest it disturb the VIPs in its cabin. Rolls-Royce estimates a zero-to-60-mph time of just 4.8 seconds—impressive for a large SUV that weighs as much as the Cullinan does.
The Cullinan rides on an air suspension that adjusts its height automatically using a road-scanning camera; ride comfort is beyond the standards of regular luxury vehicles, and it wafts down the road transmitting nothing unpleasant to the interior.
Even though building an SUV is a clear break from tradition for the storied British brand, it’s still an uncompromised Rolls-Royce in every way.
Next time you see one of these beasts rolling on the streets of Harare, please turn your head with no shame at all. Who wouldn’t?