The development of electric vehicles is currently boosted by more and more models landing on the roads near you. Almost every manufacturer has committed themselves to creating an electric variant of each model within their lineups. The same goes for Mercedes, who have officially committed to an electric future. By 2025, it will showcase three new EV platforms and by the end of the decade, the German automaker will go fully electric where market conditions will allow.
The official market introduction of the Mercedes EQS is therefore a pinnacle moment in the future of the German car brand, who released the EQC a few years ago. You might remember that this vehicle proved to be a less of a worthy competitor in a tough segment , so Mercedes-Benz have to make up for its losses and show what it’s really capable of with the newly released EQS.
The EQS is the first all-electric luxury saloon from the Mercedes-EQ brand, a technological showcase and also the first model to be based on the modular architecture for luxury and executive-class electric vehicles. Three more body shapes will be released the coming years on this platform, which have been developed over the last five years. There will be an EQS SUV, EQE and EQE SUV. Maybach and AMG variants will also be released complementing the lineup of luxury Mercedes EVs.
Two models available at launch
There are only two variants are available at launch; the base single motor EQS 450+ and the dual motor EQS 580 4Matic. Each flavor will be available with a range of options, features and a 107,8 kWh 400 V battery pack between both axles. The total range available is 780 km (on the EQS 450+). Charging is possible up to 200 kW via a fast charger. The charging curve looks similar to other models in the luxury space and allows for a 11% to 80% charge in 30 minutes. 300 km of range is added in 15 minutes depending on the amount of charge left inside the battery.
The extensive electric range of the EQS offers drivers the option to drive from Stuttgart to Monaco with only two 15-minute charging stops. Those are stops you would normally take when you want to stretch your legs or get a bite to eat. Nothing out of the ordinary for those stepping from a “normal” car into the EQS. The extensive range really comes as a handy add-on to the experience of the vehicle.
To improve its efficiency, the Germans made sure that the EQS (only with AMG line and low-drag wheels) has a drag coefficient of only 0.2, which lets the EV S-line model glide through the air with as little resistance as possible. The arching roofline helps as well. The attractive looking vehicle offers a few unique details such as the absence of a front trunk (only to be opened during servicing), the funky little filler cap for the washer fluid next to the front left door and the intriguing front grille with dozens of tiny little star shapes. The overall design offers the grandeur of an S-Class combined with the funky nature of an EV. I’m not sure this combination is what clients in this space are looking for, but time will tell how much of a success the EQS is over the new S-Class, which has had its own divisive design nature when it was launched.
Another feature to touch on are the automatic comfort doors, which weren’t fully finished on my test car and often proved to be more of an annoyance than a nice feature that everyone should opt for. If I would have the option, I would leave them off the EQS, since they didn’t really offer much of an enhanced experience over what the EQS already brings to the table. These kind of doors belong to a level of luxury where only Bentley and Rolls-Royce are situated in my opinion. The EQS isn’t at that level.
Still, the EQS is the first official luxury EV in the market space. There has not been a vehicle like this so far and even though the Tesla Model X Plaid or Porsche Taycan Turbo S are able to play in the same pool when it comes to their price tags, they are totally different cars. Some of which you will see when you enter the cabin. The cargo space in the trunk is huge and even slightly bigger than a S-Class, and there is plenty of room in the folding back seats.
The interior is impressive with materials, fit and finish seen in the S-Class and even in specific Maybach models. The soft leather, nice plastics, metal and wood finishes are a lust for the eyes and your fingertips. The only niggles to be found are the base of the seats, which are too short for people with long legs. Basically the seats are a little short on lateral support and the door handle is a notch too flimsy for my liking.
In comparison to the Porsche, you are riding in a chariot instead of a sports car and Tesla isn’t in the same league with its cheap plastics, mediocre build quality and low feature specification.
The pride of the cabin is the optional glass hyperscreen which is 56 inch, and includes three separate displays. It allows you to communicate with the vehicle via touch and voice commands starting with the familiar “Hey Mercedes” prompt. There is also a head-up display with augmented-reality navigation instructions. There is no major controller anywhere on the dashboard, although you can go through features via the touchpads on the steering wheel.
The only buttons on the center tunnel are the On/Off, the audio volume, the dynamic driving mode, the EQ modes, the parking distance control and the hazard lights. There is an abundance of storage space, 8 usb-c port and 3 wireless charging pads
The MBUX menu was altered to accommodate the new displays. In front of the driver you will notice the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which offers a wide array of functionality which we have seen before. The 17.7-inch OLED display in the middle serves as the primary infotainment system and now shows a new series of EQ features with lots of details and a zero layer that overlays the main menu and many different controls on top a full-screen map display. If you prefer, you can return to the old-fashioned look via the one of the hundreds of settings available to you as a driver.
Three of the four passengers will have the option to control their multimedia via a dedicated screen in front of them. The passenger in the front will use the third touch display, while two rear passengers sitting at either side of the car will use the optional rear multimedia attached to the front seats. The connectivity allows each person to connect their own Bluetooth headsets, enjoy their own multimedia, set navigation destinations and determine their own set up with the four-zone climate control.
The driver can assist each passenger, and will be able to use the navigation preset as the preferred destination for the drive. This means no more fighting over a radio channel! Another clever feature is a small camera which will pause any movie played on the display if the driver takes his or her eyes of the road.
The newly adapted MBUX offers a range of nifty features and has been improved when it comes to its voice control system. The system however requires a decent learning curve finding your way through the extended options, features and buttons. Even the Mercedes-Benz engineers on-site had a hard time finding the right settings during my private demo, needing that one or two seconds more to find the right option or onscreen button.
There are more intuitive systems available in the market, which are less bloated with features. All in all, the less is more approach wasn’t the first approach with MBUX and it is noticeable, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get hang of it. It will just take a bit longer than some of its competitors. However, I think we should all be happy you can still control your lights and driving mode via stalks connected to the steering column and that the horn is placed in the center underneath the Mercedes star on a round-shaped steering wheel.
Driving the EQS
With the exterior and interior review behind us, it is time to touch on the elephant in the room: the ability of the EQS of being an EV and its pure driving characteristics. Those start with the seating position, which feels surprisingly different the moment you leave its parking position and get on the move. My first drive was inside the EQS 580 4Matic with its dual motors, 524 hp and 855 Nm. This allows the sedan to reach 100 kmh in 4,3 seconds and up to a top speed of 209 kmh.
First of all, your position behind the wheel feels like as if you are placed in a higher SUV-like seating position, but this is an optical illusion due to the high dashboard, sloping front and the fact that you don’t see the bonnet from behind the wheel. It is also remarkably quiet inside the EQS, like as if you are inside a closed sound camber with no tire noise, engine vibrations or other sounds gas-powered cars would usually emit.
The first few meters require you to adjust yourself and focus on the inputs from the steering, the throttle and the brakes which are also not what I expected. Don’t get me wrong the EQS is nippy like any other EV due to it abundance of immediate torque, but the way you are connected to the car, the road and your environment is simply emotionless.
The drama-free experience behind the wheel is an immensely polished experience where you as a driver are constantly remembered of what you miss so dearly. The twisty roads in the Swiss Alps emphasized where it goes wrong for the EQS.
Let’s start with the steering which felt vague and not communicative on its initial turn-in. As soon as you are mid-corner, the magnificent 10-degrees rear axle steering will give you confidence, but before that you have a hard time placing the car correctly into a turn.
The braking is a story on its own. The initial confident-inspiring bite is absent due to the way the Germans introduced the option to select your preferred level of brake generation via the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The modulation of the brakes in any of these modes proved to be annoying due to the weird mix between friction onto the brake pads and the recuperation of the motors. The best choice is leaving the recuperation completely disengaged, but even then the brake pedal travel is too long to really give you immediate confidence.
The final point to note is the four-corner adaptive air suspension, which felt smooth and in the right environment on highways and smooth roads. The moment the suspension hits undulated swooping roads filled with potholes, it becomes jerky and wobbly due to the heavy weight – around 2500 kgs. Add this to the seats which lack lateral support and before you know it you are being thrown around the cabin in a way which is totally out of fashion to the EQS’ exclusive nature.
I can absolutely say that the EQS is far from a driver’s car. In many ways it is the total opposite of what a Porsche Taycan or Audi E-tron GT are able to convey to its drivers as an EV. Of course, none of the current EQS variants are meant for maximum-attack canyon driving. AMG will hopefully take care of this and bring back a bit more feel and emotion into the cabin. Next time I would personally position myself in one of the passenger seats inside the EQS rather than behind the wheel, especially if you enjoy and require some immediate feedback from the car.
You really need to recalibrate yourself when you step behind the wheel of the new EQS. Mercedes-EQ’s first electric sedan excels in the way it is able to bring you from A to B to C to D in sheer comfort and luxury. But as a package, it is not as good as the new S-Class for being an executive car in all of its true essence. Still the German engineers did a wonderful job creating the best luxury EV on the market today. This one surpasses the levels of luxury offered by any current EV combined with an extensive battery range and a few nifty features making the experience more enjoyable on a daily basis. If you are after such a package, then the EQS is your absolute go-to option.
The best metaphor for the EQS could well be the place where Mercedes invited me for my first drive: Switzerland. A lovely serene place known for its lovely views, breathtaking sceneries and a polished daily living experience, but also one which doesn’t share much passion and emotion and often requires you to recalibrate your senses to a much more aloof, slower and reserved pace.