The short-lived Rolls-Royce-rivalling Maybach project is no more, to be replaced by the W222-based Mercedes S 600 Pullman you see here. Pitching a pimped-up but outdated S-Class platform against the bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantom clearly didn’t work for the slow-selling Maybach, and now Mercedes has decided to go the easier route to cover the ultra-luxury market by returning to the Pullman formula.

Last seen on the W220 S-Class (the W221-based VF221 Pullman was only available in bulletproof MB Guard form and not sold to the public), the S-Class Pullman has traditionally been a super-stretched limo with two extra rear-facing seats in the rear cabin. Such extravagance won’t be replicated this time, Mercedes choosing a more subtle extra-long-wheelbase setup for the latest Pullman.

The car spied while testing here gets much longer rear doors with a more upright C-pillar to give rear occupants more privacy. The Rolls-Royce Phantom uses a similar trick too, hiding the VVIPs behind thick rear pillars. Expect the new S-Class Pullman to carry over much of the Maybach’s luxurious rear cabin features, outclassing the standard W222 S-Class that is already offered with “First Class Rear” seating option.

It will be powered by a yet-unannounced V12 engine with around 600 hp. Whether it’s the same long-serving 6.0 litre twin-turbo unit we’ve seen in past Mercedes 600 and 65 AMG models is yet to be seen. A hybrid option is also said to be in the works, due a few months after the Mercedes S 600 Pullman is unveiled in early 2014.