Mercedes-Benz EQS review

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With the EQS, Mercedes re-writes the rules of what a luxury limo should be. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

With this EQS, Mercedes' most opulent EV, the Stuttgart brand has tried to redefine what the luxury limo of the future will look like. It goes further on a single charge than any electric vehicle has before and claims to be the most aerodynamic production road car yet made. The cabin is suitably futuristic, the drivetrains are potent, the technology's impressive - and of course, the prices are high. Everything you'd expect really - from a car that, equally, might be everything you wouldn't expect a large luxury boardroom conveyance to be.

Background

What might the luxury limo of EVs look like? This is the Mercedes take on that question, the EQS. Other EQ Mercedes models mirror the look of their combustion counterparts quite closely, but the EQS looks nothing like an S-Class, outside or in. And of course, the driving and ownership experience it offers is completely different too.

One thing is common though. The S-Class has always been the model on which we've first seen Mercedes choiciest engineering and electronic innovations, features which then filter down into more affordable cars in the Stuttgart maker's portfolio. So it is with the EQS, which pioneers new technology in aerodynamics, cabin screen tech and charging - to name just three things amongst many - which will all be seen in future smaller Mercedes EQ models. But started here with this one.

Driving Experience

The core model is the EQS 450+, which is rear wheel drive and puts out 333hp, with 568Nm of torque. Even with this model's near 2.5-tonne kerb weight, that's enough to enable the 0-62mph sprint to be dispatched in just 6.2 seconds on the way to 130mph. Drive with more decorum and up to 453 miles of range is supposed to be possible from the huge 107.8kWh battery. The brand also offers a high performance Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+ model with 658hp and 950Nm of torque. It offers a 358 mile range and gets to 62mph in just 3.8s en route to a top speed that can be up to 155mph.

Under the skin across the EQS line-up, the 4-link front suspension set-up with its multi-link arrangement at the rear is closely related to the that used in the S-Class and, as with that car, adaptive air suspension is standard, with its parameters adjusted depending on the drive mode you select - choose from 'Eco', 'Comfort', 'Sport' and 'Individual'. The ride height falls at above 74mph, which improves aerodynamic efficiency and ups the driving range. Predictive camera-based suspension tech is missing, but this car nonetheless wafts over speed humps and tarmac tears as if they weren't there. It's probably our favourite thing about it. That pillowy ride doesn't mean a dynamic downside through the turns, but there's little enjoyment to be had from throwing this car about, so it's just as well that few owners will want to.

Four-wheel steering is standard, which sees the rear wheels turning by up to 10-degrees compared to those at the front - or by as much as 9-degrees with the AMG '53' version. They turn in the same direction as those at the front to help stability at high speeds - and in the opposite direction to aid manoeuvrability at parking speeds. It works too: the EQS boasts a turning circle of 10.9-metres with the 10-degree rear axle steering set-up, which is extraordinary for a 5.21-metre long limousine. You're going to need to make proactive use of the clever energy recuperation system, which is manually selectable via these steering wheel paddles in three stages - 'D+', 'D' and 'D-' - or select 'D auto' to do it all for you if you can't decide.

Design and Build

There's very little of the S-Class in the look of this EQS. For a start, like the next model down in the EQ line-up, the EQE, this is a 5-door hatch. Both cars sit on a bespoke EVA platform too, which will also be used for separate SUV models in each case. Part of the reason for the unique look here lies with Mercedes desire to create the world's most aerodynamic road car - which this is with an uber-slippery drag coefficient of just 0.20Cd. Smooth surfaced panels devoid of creases help here, as does the coupe-like profile, the short overhangs and the frameless doors with their flush fitting handles. There's a large fastback-style tailgate. And, as with the BMW iX, the clamshell-style bonnet can't be opened.

There's nothing of the conventional S-Class inside either, the EQS adopting its own unique dashboard, controls and trim. Customers will be offered the brand's latest 55.5-inch MBUX Hyperscreen, which gives you three separate displays housed beneath a single, curved panel that's 141cm wide. Of these, the driver gets a 12.3-inch instrument screen, there's a 17.7-inch central infotainment monitor and a third 12.3-inch display sits ahead the front passenger.

Rear seat space is of course generous, thanks to the long wheelbase enabled by the EV underpinnings. And a removable tablet can be specified for back passengers, along with a pair of 11.6-inch screens. There's a huge 610-litre boot, extendable to 1,770-litres with the seats folded.

Market and Model

You're going to need to think in terms of a price starting point of just over £100,000 for EQS ownership; that's for the base rear-driven EQS 450+ 'AMG Line' model, which offers 333hp and from launch was the starting point in the EQS hierarchy. If you can afford more, this variant comes in a choice of four further trim levels - 'AMG Line Premium', 'AMG Line Premium Plus', 'Luxury' and the top 'Exclusive Luxury' version, which at the time of our test was priced at just over £116,000. Other markets get a lesser 288hp EQS 350 variant we might well see here; along with a more powerful EQS 500 model (offering 443hp) and an EQS 580 variant (with 516hp). These last two derivatives are offered only with 4MATIC AWD.

At the time of our test, the only way of getting the 4MATIC drive system with the conventional EQS body style in the UK was to opt for the alternative version of this car that from launch we did get, the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53. Predictably, given that power for this performance variant rises right up to at least 658hp, that's an even costlier confection, priced from just over £157,000 at the time of this test in either 'Night Edition' or 'Touring' forms. Your other alternative is to opt for the EQS SUV body style, which offers all the same drivetrain options you can have with this conventional model.

Here though, our focus is on the conventional EQS body shape. It rolls out of the same Sindelfingen factory complex as its close cousin, the Mercedes S-Class, which of course is a saloon (the EQS is a five-door hatch) and is a car that costs much the same as an EQS if, as would be most relevant, your point of comparison is with the S580e Plug-in Hybrid S-Class model.

Cost of Ownership

With the size of battery in use here - it has 107.8kWh of usable energy - driving range ought to be good, and it is: this car is WLTP-rated at 453 miles from full charge in EQS 450+ form. At last, a European brand model has been able to trump Tesla in terms of driving range, though doubtless the American brand will have a response in mind. The top Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+ model offers 358 miles of range.

The EQS, a little surprisingly, hasn't adopted the 800V electronic architecture that top Audi and Porsche EVs use; there's a 400V system that offers up to 200kW DC rapid charge capability. Which means a 10-80% charge in both EQS models will take only 32 minutes. Mercedes claims that up to 186 miles of range can be added in as little as a quarter of an hour to the EQS 450+ variant. As standard, you get an 11kW AC on-board charger which, using an AC charging point, tops up the car from 10-100% in 10 hours. We like the cleverer choice of different charging programmes - 'Standard', 'Home' and 'Work', each of which allows you to pre-set things like departure time, maximum charge level and air conditioning settings. There's also a feature that Mercedes calls 'Eco-charging', which lowers the load on the battery during charging in a way that improves the longevity of the lithium-ion cells. As usual with an EV, you can lower the battery's charge state to a pre-set limit; or delay charging take advantage of off-peak electricity.

Summary

Just as the Mercedes S-Class was in many ways the original boardroom level large luxury saloon, so in future years, the EQS will be seen as being the first car to fill that role for EVs. You might think that the looks lack the traditional gravitas that a car in this class is expected to have. But that's because nothing - not even the crucial issue in this class of pavement presence - has been allowed to get in the way of the relentless engineering drive towards efficiency that characterises this car. The luxury limo of the future must have less environmental impact on its surroundings than the supermini of the past. And for that to happen, a big saloon of this kind must change; radically.

The EQS epitomises the need for that. It's different because going forward, cars of its kind will have to be. And, just as significantly, it's the first European brand EV to properly trump Tesla when it comes to driving range. Of course, as a top-level executive, you may not be quite ready for this level of radical change. If so no, no problem: that's why Mercedes still makes the S-Class. But if you are, in this car, the future awaits.

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