Welcome back to the Mercedes EQS and this time, not the base Mercedes-Benz model, but AMG’s take on the first electric S-class from the manufacturer based in southern Germany. Following my initial drive earlier in the year in Switzerland, I am this time in the United States of America, Los Angeles. California to be precise, allowing myself to connect with the AMG way of driving electric. Before we dive in and discuss the vehicle, I have to share that I personally never connected well with the “normal” EQS 580 I drove across the scenic roads in the Swiss Alps. The wofty steering, disconnected brake feel and the boat-like feel in the suspension weren’t for me. The vehicle completely required me to recalibrate my senses in a way I didn’t want to.
The total absence of any kind of emotion through the controls made for me an experience I would not want to repeat again soon. The engineers at AMG however ensured me that they were up to the task of providing me with a much better, involving drive. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and took the EQS 53 AMG for a spin, on LA highways and a mountain pass near Palm Springs. My thoughts? Let me surprise you!
A High-Performance Electric Limousine
Many people including AMG themselves will let you believe that the EQS is AMG’s first attempt at an all-electric performance car. That’s not completely true. The limited-run SLS Electric Drive, revealed in 2012 is officially the first EV from Affalterbach, but you could argue that the EQS is the first mass-produced EV. It combines luxury and performance in a package that isn’t available in the current automotive world. Of course, other manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infinity, Bentley and Rolls-Royce will follow in the years to come, but at this moment the EQS is alone in this market space.
The car rides on Mercedes’ EVA2 group platform for electric vehicles, including the EQE and where we will also see the EQS SUV, EQE SUV and a future EQS Maybach variant. The aim for the AMG EQS is to proof that an AMG electric car can have a powerful personality as its internally combusting brethren. Yes, I am aware that the sonorous sound track from an ICE AMG is totally missing, but the last decade there has been more to AMG than just tyre smoking hooligans with the monstrous V8 soundtrack. More sophisticated driving characters have flowed into the different vehicles, making them better driving machines without losing the distinct nature of an AMG.
The EQS the engineers really looked where they could actively insert AMG’s DNA into the mix. It meant dramatically improving straight-line performance, increase the emphasis on handling and driver involvement, and increase the braking performance, but also look at enhancing the driver focus in connection to the cabin interface, altering the styling and increase its presence, to add a host of performance-focused technology and drive modes inside for the driver and its passenger to enjoy.
Drivetrain And Performance
Let’s start under the “bonnet”. The EQS 53 has a twin-motor setup similar to the EQS 580. The motors have improved hardware, better cooling and enhanced software allowing for a performance output of 484 kw or 560 kw (more on this later) and 1020 Nm of torque. The battery connected to both AMG-derived motors is the 108 kwh package we saw on the other EQS models. The difference between both performance levels is based around you as customer opting for the AMG Dynamic Plus package. With the package installed, the 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 3.4 seconds, 0.4 faster than without the package. The top speed also goes up when you check the box on the order form: 250 km/h instead of 220 km/h.
All in all, it’s not too bad if you consider the immense size and 2,575 kg kerb weight of the car. This size and weight, of course, becomes even more obvious and a notable point when I took the EV up a sloping mountain pass with hairpins. Add this to horrific weather combining horizontal rain, 8 degrees outside temperature, plus heavy winds, and the overall challenge of keeping it on the road should have been more challenging than it really was.
Start to chuck it into corners and you feel the EQS’ weight come into play. The tuned chassis, however, really makes the AMG EQS stand out from its Benz counterparts. The air suspension and rear-wheel steering – both standard – plus the enhanced steering allow for a completely different experience over the normal EQS I drove in July. The vehicle feels more connected to the road and enables you to be more precise. The more communicative steering feel isn’t sportscar-like, but does allow you to feel a lot more confident through the corners and use the dual motors’ performance to really attack faster bends. The car feels surprisingly more agile and lighter as if AMG have shed off a few hundred kilos somewhere along the way.
The driving modes offer different steps when it comes to your connection with the car. Quite similar to what you feel in other AMG vehicles. The most noticeable are the different synthetic sounds pumped into the cabin, making the EV experience more pronounced. If requested, they can be switched off, of course. Via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles you are able to alter the level of energy regeneration in three steps. Keep it in the middle for the best brake feel, which as a whole has improved greatly over the EQS 580, but its inconsistent pedal travel still requires some adjustment after stepping out of a conventual car.
All credit goes to the engineers at AMG, who kept their promise and developed a package that is considerably more agile and enjoyable to drive. The overall balance of the car is impressive to say the least. Of course. there is more tire noise and a firmer ride, but that is also what you would expect from an AMG model. All in all, the connection with the road has overall been improved, while the engineers didn’t touch on the sheer essence of what an EQS should bring to the table. This is felt after you leave the twisty roads behind and drive the EQS in a more civilized manner. At that moment, the luxury model will reward you with the same refinement as the non-AMG models.
This leaves us with a small recap of what the EQS platform has to offer and how the EQS 53 differs from its Benz brothers when it comes to exterior or interior design. Let’s first look at the outside. The Germans fitted a black panel front grille with horizontal struts and a series of AMG batches. The digital front lights are standard and you have the choice between 21 or 22 inch AMG specific wheels in Heritage or Aero designs shod in Michelin Pilot Sport EV tires. The rear spoiler and rear diffuser are AMG specific.
On the inside, you are greeted by the standard EQS package featuring a few AMG highlights. The 56-inch Hyperscreen comes as standard and is a total of 1.4 meters wide. Within each of the three OLED screens you have the AMG performance menu or AMG center cluster options available for you. The AMG steering wheel is combined by AMG style seats and the use of Alcantara throughout the interior. The base of the seats in the front and rear are still too short for my liking. The side bolsters of the front seats have been clearly improved and keep you better planted.
On the charging front, the 108kw batter offers a 585 km range and the ability to recharge 300 km of range in 19 minutes, and from 10 to 80 percent in 31 minutes. We didn’t have the chance to really test its range abilities, which means we have to believe AMG’s words for now. Additionally, the EQC uses a 400-volt electrical architecture and can charge at up to 200 kw.
For those in the market and intrigued by the prospect of owning an EQS, the AMG-variant seems to be the only choice for those looking to keep some of that driver involvement while combining the high level luxury nature with outright performance. This AMG EQS shines in this department, especially in comparison to the soleless 450 and 580-models, which are more comfortable cruisers rather than high-performance machines. The AMG-variant is in many ways an achievement for the engineers in Affalterbach, who showcase that they can do more than just produce V8 power-saloons/wagons and brilliant hot-hatches with drift modes. My applause goes to them. Job well done!