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 more 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

To start with, two powertrains are on offer. The base EQS 450+ is rear wheel drive and puts out 329hp, 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. If you need to go faster, you'll be pointed towards the EQS 580 4MATIC, which has a twin motor set-up giving four-wheel drive. The combined output of the two motors is 516hp and there's a prodigious 855Nm of torque, which sees the 0-62mph time fall to just 4.3 seconds. Both variants are capped at a top speed of 130mph. For the future, Mercedes is working on high performance EQS AMG model with up to 751hp.

Under the skin, 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. Four-wheel steering is standard, which sees the rear wheels turning by up to 4.5-degrees compared to those at the front - or by as much as 10-degrees as an option. 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 standard rear axle steering set-up, which is extraordinary for a 5.21-metre long limousine.

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 around £100,000 for EQS ownership; that's for the base EQS 450+ model. Obviously, you'll need significantly more for the faster EQS 580 4MATIC model. And you'll need more again if you want to upgrade your car with the digital MBUX Hyperscreen set-up almost all EQS customers will want. Other options include a head-up display unit featuring augmented reality features. Plus you'll want to leave some budget aside for the rear-axle steering setup. And perhaps the Rear Seat Entertainment system There's also a high efficiency particulate filter that works as part of an 'Energising Air Control' system.

Mercedes expects that EQS customers will be audiophiles. Even the standard sound package is pretty comprehensive with four different modes - 'Silent', 'Vivid Flux', 'Silver Waves' and 'Roaring Pulse', the latter designed to replicate the noise of a traditional combustion engine, which is a touch ironic. If you want to go further, the brand offers an optional 15-speaker, 710-watt Burmester surround sound set-up. A neat touch we really like is the automatic door opening arrangement. With the standard model, the door handles slide out of their recesses opening automatically as the driver approaches. And if you specify the 'Premium Plus Package', users can also open the rear doors from the MBUX infotainment system.

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 478 miles from full charge. 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 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 31 minutes. Mercedes claims that up to 173 miles of range can be added in as little as a quarter of an hour to the EQS 580 4MATIC variant. This improves to 186 miles in 15 minutes with the lesser EQS 450+ model.

As standard, you get an 11kW AC on-board charger and as an option, you can pay extra for a more powerful 22kW unit. Using an AC charging point, the 11kW on-board charger tops up the car from 10-100% in 10 hours: with the 22kW unit, you can halve that. 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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