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.
Boasting supreme luxury and cool styling, this loaded flagship sedan leads the field.
When Mercedes-Benz launches a new S-Class, the industry takes note. Always the pinnacle of the German marque’s capabilities, the S-Class brings new tech, features, and styling cues to the lineup, and makes the competition step up its game. Recognized as the sedan that hauls bank executives, dignitaries, and celebrities alike, this Mercedes-Benz icon has serious expectations to conquer.
Competing with the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, and Maserati Quattroporte, the S-Class will always have rivals at its heels. In its newest form, Mercedes has unveiled its executive sedan to suit the driver as much as the driven occupant. Having reviewed a variety of ultimate luxury sedans including the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Bentley Flying Spur, I wanted to see how a slightly more attainable luxury sedan got along, so I gave it a comprehensive test.
THE KEY SPECIFICATIONS
Mercedes-Benz offers the new S-Class with two different engine options. In the S500, a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six (shared with the AMG GT 53 I reviewed) makes its way under the hood, coupled with Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48V mild-hybrid system, producing 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. In S580 guise, Mercedes provides its exceptional 4.0-liter biturbo V8, also equips its EQ Boost system, which bumps the output to 496 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The S580 is driven by a 9-speed automatic that powers all four wheels, and the sprint from 0-60 MPH takes only 4.4 seconds.
At 208 inches long, 77 wide, and 59 tall, the S-Class has a 65-inch front and 66-inch wide rear track, and a wheelbase measuring 126 inches. In its ultimately appointed–and more expensive–Maybach offering, Mercedes extends the wheelbase and overall length seven inches, providing the rear cabin occupants a massive space to be driven in. Thanks to extensive use of aluminum in its construction, this luxobarge tips the scales at just 4,775 pounds.
Mercedes offers the S580 in three distinct trim levels, with the Luxury Line being its standard model, at a base price of $117,700. The upper trim is the Executive Line model, which adds seating and entertainment upgrades to the rear cabin, focused on the driven occupant. The model I tested is the AMG Line, in the middle of the lineup, adding sportier details inside and out, with a base price of $122,000.
Painted Obsidian Black, treated with Sienna Brown and Black Exclusive Nappa leather, and trimmed with Slate high-gloss poplar wood trim, my tester added 22-inch AMG wheels with performance tires, rear-axle steering, the Burmester 4D high-end audio system, warmth and comfort package, night package, and 3D technology package to hit a total MSRP of $142,090.
THE BEST WAY TO COMMUTE TO THE OFFICE
As expected from a car of this caliber, the all-new Mercedes S580 is wonderful to spend time cruising in. While the standard inline-six in the S500 is a good powerplant, the biturbo V8 stuffed into the S580 is the one you want. With its peak 516 lb-ft of torque available from 2,000 – 4,000 RPM, there’s no hesitation when you want the S-Class to surge ahead, complimented by the smoothest torque-ll provided by Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild-hybrid system. Unfortunately Mercedes no longer has a 12-cylinder option in the S-Class, like is standard in the Rolls-Royce Ghost I enjoyed, and is optional in the Bentley Flying Spur and BMW 7 Series.
The S-Class glides over the bumpiest city streets, thanks to its adaptive AIRMATIC suspension that prevents any disruptions inside this massive chassis. Despite being a huge executive sedan, the S580 is remarkably nimble, and the rear-axle steering is a great option box to tick for added agility. Pirelli P zero rubber is wrapped around the 22-inch wheels in the AMG Line, which denitely help it cope in the bends. I took this S-Class along twisty roads on multiple occasions, and was more than pleased with how confidently it carved corners.
The dynamic drive modes offer eco, comfort, sport, and sport plus defaults, and my favorite individual setup involved putting the engine in comfort, the suspension in sport, and the steering in sport too. I liked a hint firmer response–but not too stiff–from the adaptive dampers, as the comfort mode was more floaty than I prefer. Demand even more cornering prowess? Drop $6,500 on the E-Active Body Control that employs a stereo camera system that works in harmony with the 48V electronics in the suspension to minimize body roll, pitch, and dive characteristics under any driving condition. Even if that drive is only made between one’s massive house and the office or country club.
The new S-Class is treated to a cabin that’s upholding the new Mercedes look that perfectly balances cool and luxurious. The S580’s seats are supremely good, with loads of support in the right spots, and heating, ventilation, and massage modes that will spoil you along any drive. The pillows attached to the headrests are a nice touch too. I suggest taking a long road trip to truly exploit the comfort provided in this flagship Mercedes.
The Burmester 3D surround audio system (a $6,730 option) is among the best I’ve heard in any car, even versus the Naim for Bentley system in the Flying Spur and the Bespoke Audio in the Rolls-Royce Ghost I reviewed, detailed with cool metallic speaker grilles (featuring tweeters that unscrew outward when the system is on). If the speakers aren’t potent enough, Mercedes supplies laminated glass that’s heat and noise-insulating, and IR-reflecting, to make sure you aren’t affected by any outside elements.
BEING DRIVEN IN COOL LUXURY
While driving the new Mercedes S580 is great, spending time in the back seat is fantastic. Even without opting for the Maybach model that boasts an extra seven inches of wheelbase that benefits the rear cabin, the legroom rear passengers will enjoy in the S-Class is massive. The optional warmth and comfort package adds rapid heating, cool ventilation, and power adjustments to the rear seats, while also giving the front passengers added heating in the center and door armrests.
If you’re the person being driven more often than driving, spend the extra cash for the Executive Line S580 that enhances the seating setup with massaging modes, a footrest on the right side, four-zone climate control, and upgrades to the MBUX infotainment system to allow for easier controls while utilizing a tablet that docks in the cooler center armrest that also conceals a wireless charging pad.
THE EXCEPTIONAL DETAILS
While the Mercedes-Benz S580’s exterior may project that it’s an understated executive sedan, but there are countless details that make it cool. The sculpted panels carry subtle styling lines that flow smoothly around its body, cleanly connecting the headlights to the taillights. The classic grille contains the cruise control radar components, and there’s still the iconic Mercedes-Benz hood ornament installed.
Under its fine sheetmetal, Mercedes-Benz has gone wild appointing its interior with some of the coolest tech you’ll spot inside any car currently on sale. An additional $3,000 will upgrade the cockpit with an augmented reality heads-up display and a 3D instrument cluster. The 64-color ambient light modes can be adjusted as desired, but I went for the cool Miami Sunset theme that cycles through retro pastel shades.
While cool speakers, ambient lights, and space age materials aren’t new to luxury cars, Mercedes has a party trick few can match, tucked into its infotainment’s settings: “Energizing Comfort” modes. Whether the S580’s occupants are in need of a boost of energy, want to calm themselves after a long day, or have just taken a dose of their favorite psychedelics (please don’t do this and drive), the S-Class will set up a mind-blowing experience.
Depending on the mode selected, an adaptive color theme is introduced through the ambient lights, the seat and armrest heaters crank up if it’s a warming theme or the seat ventilation fans activate, a unique massage mode begins, and the Burmester audio system flexes its prowess as instrumentals blast through all its numerous speakers. It’s an immersive experience like nothing else, and I strongly recommend making friends with a new S-Class owner, wandering to an open space at night, and firing up one of these modes.
THE POSITIVE POINTS
As more luxury manufacturers are making bold styling changes, Mercedes insists on keeping the S-Class refined. Every panel has the tiniest gap that is perfectly measured around the entire body. Soft-close doors silently operate, yet still have a solidly-weighted feel. Door handles are similar to those found on a Tesla Model S, but with smooth and silent extending and concealment when entering or exiting the S-Class.
I expected the new S-Class to be extremely well-assembled inside, but this S580 is exquisite. A blend of big high-resolution displays for the instrument cluster and MBUX infotainment system, fine quilted leather, and cool metal trim that compliments large wood panels complete a cabin I adore. Follow any stitching, wood, or metal trim line, and you’ll never spot a deviation or imperfection. Considering the S580 costs half the price of the Bentley Flying Spur and a third of the cost of a Rolls-Royce Ghost, the interior detailing of the S-Class is on-par with them both.
A FEW TINY COMPLAINTS
Where the complete outer proportions of the Mercedes S-Class are great, the front grille is a little large when presented between the smaller headlamp housings. I get that Mercedes wanted the front-end to be striking, but the main grille element needs to shrink about 20 percent. This is about as much of a complaint as I can find around the S580’s body, as it still looks ridiculously good.
Continuing the trend throughout its updated cabin designs, Mercedes has incorporated more capacitive touch controls for the seat adjustments, and I would prefer some physical movement that’s given more of a positive click when making each of the many seat sections move. The same gripe extends to the steering wheel setup that I didn’t love in the Mercedes E350 I drove not long ago. With physical controls being eliminated, Mercedes makes you take your eyes off the road to adjust the climate control or volume of your favorite music. At least the volume slider adjusts intuitively when you slide your finger either direction.
“THE BEST OR NOTHING” EPITOMIZED
More than a catchy tagline, the principle of “The Best or Nothing” is effectively applied to the new Mercedes S-Class. As is the case each time Mercedes-Benz releases a new S-Class, the luxury flagship benchmark has been reset with this newest edition. Best of luck to the S-Class’ rivals, in an attempt to compete with what is the best offering in its class by far. The S580 demonstrates the finest engineering and craftsmanship Mercedes can produce.
Met with timeless looks outside, the S580’s cabin is treated to wonderfully modern styling touches and a cool factor like no other flagship sedan. Pair a refined chassis with a mild-hybrid powertrain that creates a truly smooth surge, and the Mercedes-Benz S580 is as joyful behind the wheel as it is from the back seat. There’s nothing like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and I think it is absolutely the executive sedan to buy.