The new kid on the EV block picks a fight with more established foes.
For several years, the first name that came to mind when considering a nice EV sedan was Tesla. Not to miss out on a ripe market, other manufacturers have introduced contenders that are starting to grab some of the EV market share. Mercedes-Benz wants a piece of the action too, and is finally rolling out an all-electric model in the States, after years of adding the EQ Boost 48-volt mild-hybrid system to plenty of its models.
With the Mercedes-EQ lineup, Mercedes is rolling out an assortment of EVs, but up until this point the American buyer has been left out. A couple crossover models have hit other markets, but the German marque has now decided to make a splash across the pond with a flagship sedan offering. It’s called the EQS, and no, it’s not just an electrified S-Class (which I recently reviewed). This is an all-new platform that’s going toe-to-toe with the Lucid Air, Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S, and Audi e-tron GT (that I also tested). Where does it slot into this segment? I had to figure that out.
The Important Figures
In this EQS 450+ trim, Mercedes fits a single 245kW Permanently Excited Synchronous Motor (I giggled too) to the rear axle, producing 329 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. Through a single-speed transmission, the EQS 450+ can sprint from 0-60 MPH in 5.9 seconds, and has a top speed of 130 MPH. Rear-axle steering is standard on the EQS, to give this big electric sedan greater agility. In the EQS 580, Mercedes ups the ante by adding another motor to the front axle, using its 4MATIC variable all-wheel-drive system. Coupled with a total output of 385 kW, it has 516 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque. Offering the same top speed as its 450 sibling, the EQS 580 4MATIC quickens the run to 60 MPH, taking just 4.1 seconds, while still utilizing a single-speed transmission.
At 205 inches long, the EQS has a three-inch shorter overall length than the S-Class I tested, but has the same 126-inch wheelbase. The remainder of its dimensions are nearly identical to the S-Class, but because of the supply of lithium ion batteries on-board, the EQS 450+ has a curb weight of 5,597 pounds, making it nearly 800 pounds heavier than the S580. Opting for the dual-motor EQS 580 will add another 300 pounds to the package. The load of batteries help give the EQS 450+ good range, offering 350 miles on a full charge, with the EQS 580’s range only dipping to 340 miles.
Pricing for the Mercedes EQS 450+ starts at $102,310, and the EQS 580 throws in a bit more standard equipment with its more potent powertrain, with a base figure of $119,110. The EQS 450+ I tested opted for the natural grain yacht-design trim, massaging and rapid heating front seats, adaptive ambient lighting, and the wildly cool MBUX Hyperscreen package to hit a total MSRP of $115,245.
City Cruising Improved
As one would expect from a top-end Mercedes, the EQS is a wonderful way to buzz around town. Rather than feeling like an appliance that simply moves from A to B, the EQS is a solid feeling luxury sedan that actually has some connection to the road. Thanks to a splendid adaptive air suspension, the EQS also minimizes any bumps along the street, but helps it glide over the surface in a manner that’s almost more distinguished than the S580 I just tested. I appreciate the quick adjustment to regenerative braking being controlled by the steering wheel-mounted paddles, and found that the normal setting (the middle of three modes) was ideal for daily driving. The drive modes offer the usual eco, comfort, sport, and individual setups, but there aren’t as many settings to tweak in the individual mode as Mercedes offers in the E-Class and S-Class, which really isn’t a big deal.
Due to much of its weight being placed low and between the axles, this electric Merc maintains a nicely planted feel when taking curves. Unlike the S-Class, rear axle steering is standard on the EQS, rather than optional, and the added 10º of steering assistance makes this big electric sedan signicantly more agile as it’s tossed into a quick sweeper. For drivers who do more canyon carving on the weekends in their EVs, the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT are definitely more fun to toss around. Because the powertrain is all mounted in the back, the EQS 450+ has a tendency to oversteer when applying the fun pedal on corner exit, which can also be attributed to the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires that Mercedes claims are range-optimized summer tires. On a rainy day, these tires were less than confidence-inspiring, and broke traction during city driving when giving the EQS more than 30% accelerator input.
Peak power being just 329 horsepower, the base EQS 450+ isn’t exactly fast, but the on-demand torque helps this EV move ahead smoothly. Mercedes is smart to offer a more tame variant for drivers who are more concerned about looking cool while enjoying a seriously composed ride in their electric luxury sedan. I suggest opting for the dual-motor EQS 580, to get the big increase in horsepower while benefitting from the added grip of all-wheel-drive. Performance junkies will be pleased to know there’s an upcoming AMG variant that packs 649 horses (with a quick bump to 751 in its race start mode) and 700 lb-ft of torque, helping it scoot from 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds while increasing the top speed to 155 MPH.
The cockpit of the Mercedes EQS is nearly identical to the S-Class, which is a good thing. Every component is designed with a refined yet cool look that will impress your coworkers when you drive to lunch. Because the EQS has the same wheelbase as the S-Class, it offers plenty of cabin volume for the front and rear passengers. The seats are more similar to the E-Class, and not as big and cushy as the S-Class, but are ridiculously comfortable. I like the front seats’ rapid heating and massaging modes, but this tester didn’t check the $1,580 winter package option box to add a heated steering wheel, windscreen, and rear seats. Trunk space is massive, and filling the hatch up is easy thanks to a power lift gate, but Mercedes doesn’t have a front storage space like its competition.
Not as insulated as the proper S-Class, the Mercedes EQS still provides a cabin quiet enough to allow its occupants to hear a mouse’s flatulence. To truly block out the world around the EQS, spend an extra $1,010 to opt for laminated glass and thicker insulation, and enjoy a cabin that’s more silent than a husband who just told his wife the new babysitter is cute. The added insulation also helps the brilliant Burmester surround system sound even more clear.
I’m not in love with the capacitive touch controls on the steering wheel and center console, but they aren’t terrible either. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, in addition to a mobile charging dock that’s placed inside a center console that has the smoothest operating cover. There are also six USB-C ports in the EQS, so everyone can charge their gear. On the safety front, Mercedes gives the EQS every system it currently makes as standard equipment, offering advantages over nearly any non-Mercedes on the market.
The Aspects of Being Electric
Mercedes invested considerable cash into the EQS, designing it on a unique EV architecture, as the first EQ model offered in the United States. The styling may not be the most appealing to some drivers, but Mercedes optimized the shape of the EQS to be extremely slippery against wind resistance. Possessing a wildly low 0.20 drag coefficient, the EQS is the most aerodynamic production car on sale. At first glance, the optional wheels fitted to my EQS tester look like simple 5-spoke ones, but a closer look reveals a clean pattern that incorporates a bunch of tiny three-pointed stars within a mesh design to reduce turbulence.
With 480v, 300A DC fast charging standard, the EQS 450+ can charged from 10% to 80% in just 31 minutes when hooked up to a 110 kW charger. With 350 miles of range on a full charge, the EQS won’t have to be recharged often, and has better range than a Porsche Taycan or Audi e-tron GT, but isn’t going as far as a Model S Long Range or Lucid Air Dream. If public charging is needed, Mercedes EQS owners get complimentary 30-minute charging sessions with Electrify America’s DC Fast-Charging stations for the first two years.
Public charging infrastructure still has a long way to go, but buyers in this tax bracket likely have a house with a garage where they can safely charge the EQS. Charging capabilities can be customized to your needs, depending on your schedule or charging truly needed, to better serve the longevity of the batteries. Mercedes’ navigation system can also be programmed to optimize charging times and routes along your road trip. In case a public charger isn’t easily available, Mercedes has a 110V charging cable included in the storage space under the trunk, but expect to wait 11 hours to get a full charge from 10%.
The Cool Luxury Treatments
While it has to be the Mercedes-EQ lineup flagship, the EQS is still showing that it can be cool. The body is neatly sculpted, even though its focus is on peak aerodynamic objectives. Every time I took the EQS out for a spin, it got plenty of positive attention. Even a new S-Class driver gave me the favorable nod when we were next to each other at a red light. The LED headlights fitted to the EQS are similar to the S-Class units, and the taillights are nicely swept around the tail-end with one thin brake light element across the trunk. I’m still mixed on Mercedes’ seamless door handles, which pop out as you walk up to the EQS, just like you experience on a Tesla Model S.
The seamlessly integrated central climate control vents are a neat design, wrapping around the front of the cockpit. Vents at the A-pillar look like machined turbines from a commercial airliner. Burmester speaker covers carry over the metal theme spotted in other Mercedes models too. Mercedes crafted a belt line that’s just high enough to make you feel like you’re in a sportier sedan, but inside the door panel, the EQS’ line actually flows slightly downward to improve the spacious feel inside the cabin with loads of visibility. Adaptive ambient lighting is standard inside the EQS, which is still the coolest I’ve experienced in any car, and the energizing comfort modes that blew my mind inside the S-Class are optional.
By far the coolest feature in the Mercedes EQS is the Hyperscreen. This technological marvel incorporates a 12-inch driver display, 17-inch infotainment screen, and a supplemental 12-inch display ahead of the front passenger all under one seamless 56-inch wide slab of Gorilla Glass. If the driver is using the main display, the passenger can utilize their screen to adjust setups without disturbing them. In the EQS 450+ the Hyperscreen is a $7,230 option, but it’s a standard feature in the EQS 580. Skip that option, and the EQS still gets a great MBUX displays that I liked in the conventional S-Class. The 3D instrument cluster is super cool too, especially when you have the central element as the map setting.
A Splendid Luxury EV Contender
With the EV sedan marketplace supplying drivers with a massive variety of options, each manufacturer has to find its sweet spot. Porsche and Audi may offer more enjoyable driving experiences on twisty roads, but Mercedes isn’t going after those buyers just yet. That will be a task for the new EQE that’s scheduled to arrive later this year. Tesla may boast massive performance figures, but the EQS is far better built inside and out. The other EV I have yet to drive is the Lucid Air, which looks to balance luxury and outright performance as well as Bentley, but with a wildly cool appearance and a big sticker price.
The Mercedes EQS plants itself firmly into an opening for a luxury car that happens to be fully electric, at a price that’s seriously attractive. Even fully loaded, the Mercedes EQS is less expensive than the S580 I reviewed. The EQS fantastic to drive for long periods, and treats its occupants to an interior worthy of a flagship. I think the EQS might convert some Mercedes S-Class buyers into EV drivers who want to take the leap while reaping the benefits of owning a proper Mercedes, which would be a massive win for the German marque.