Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: April 8, 2022
Full electrification is the goal, but all goals start somewhere. This is the EQS, the first all-electric sedan from Mercedes-Benz. It’s the charging vanguard paving the voltaic way forward, and should pique the interest of luxury-minded buyers looking to make the transition into zero-emission mobility with all the luxury trimmings and amenities normally associated with the S-Class moniker.
With an AMG performance model coming later in the year, the EQS is currently available in only one trim: EQS 580 4MATIC. That means it’s powered by two electric motors and a 107.8 kWh battery. Total output is a grand 516 hp and 631 lb-ft of torque through a single-speed transmission and an all-wheel drive setup. The flexibility of the motors allows the EQS to infinitely vary the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles, and there’s a trick rear-wheel steering system as well, but more on that later.
Range? Mercedes estimates 547 km on a single charge, though we only had our EQS 580 for a short period of time so we could not fully test its real-world range capability. Be that as it may, the computer’s estimates seemed to reflect an overall 490 km of range when taking into account our driving habits, highway driving, cabin temperature at a constant 21-degrees Celsius, and the heated seats and wheel set on medium. That’s more than enough range to compete with the best from Tesla and its Teutonic rivals.
What stood out most about the EQS was not its range or its eye-opening 0-100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds, which is one-tenths faster than S 580 by the way, but rather how normal the EQS felt to drive. By normal, we mean that behind the wheel it’s easy to forget that the EQS is an EV because its characteristics are parallel with the ideals of a luxury sedan - the electric motors are silent as the crypt, the brake pedal is linear and easy to modulate, the acceleration pick up is gentle, polished, yet strong, and the steering is devoid of feedback but light and faithful to input. If you want a spa-on-wheels, this is it.
The rear axle steering here is a gamechanger, as it moves the rear wheels up to 10-degrees. That’s more than double traditional rear-wheel steering systems, paying dividends to manueverability, especially in tight parking spaces where the EQS wiggles around like a Nissan Micra. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s incredible, yet it also means the steering rack can feel hyper sensitive to input as the rear end is suddenly so reactive and playful. We often found ourselves using too much steering rotation, and had to constantly backtrack and recorrect. No, it doesn’t come close to the agility of a Taycan Turbo, but the EQS is still surprisingly fun to provoke with oversteer under hard cornering, and it remains planted with more than sufficient AWD grip.
It’s the ride quality that you’re getting the EQS for, though. The self-levelling air suspension with adaptive damping provides the most serene of rides, equal in comfort to the S 580 we tested a few weeks prior. It rides exceptionally well on the large 21-inch wheels, and earns its status as the most comfortable EV sedan we have ever driven.
The EQS is efficient too and that all starts with that slippery soap-bar shape. Aerodynamics are the name of the game, but Mercedes never forgets to put on a show, which begins before you even enter the car. The EQS will sense when the key fob is close and as you approach, the LED headlights will glimmer and the flush door handles will pop out, greeting you with their presence.
The AMG Sport Package ($4,500) with its more aggressive front bumper and larger air intakes carry a great deal of road presence, and the multi-spoke 21-inch wheels look spectacular. A chore to clean, but along with the Nautical Blue paint, it adds that extra layer of visual depth to the soapbar silhouette. Still, we can’t help but shake off the similarities to the Honda Odyssey with its sloped nose and chrome bar linking the headlights together.
But as with any S-Class, the main attraction is the interior and the rear seat accommodations. The EQS formula is quite simple: take the S 580 and add more screens. In fact, the amount of digital real estate is absolutely daunting and overwhelming. The seamless look is because all of the displays on the dashboard are housed under one single piece of glass, which spans 56-inches. It serves to accentuate the width of the interior, as well as create a fluidity around it. Add to that the 64 colours of ambient lighting and better screen definition than my OLED television, and it becomes an absolute spectacle at night. Still, it can all be difficult to digest for those used to the analog way of infotainment interaction. You won’t find any buttons or dials here, just haptic touch sensors.
Elsewhere, the material quality is sublime, and this Neva Grey with Biscaya Blue spec, matched with the Ship’s Deck wood veneer is a visual delight, making a Tesla Model S look basic and underequipped, and a Porsche Taycan spartan and obsolete. Of note though, the Neva Grey comes off more as white-ish beige in person.
But without the optional Premium ($3,000) or Executive Rear Seating Package ($7,000), the rear seat accommodations are basic and a bit disappointing for an S-Class model. There are no electric rear sunshades, or heated or ventilated seats, and the seats cannot be adjusted or reclined. At least the trunk space is massive under that glass liftgate. Not to say it’s an ordinary cabin - the headrest pillows, soft leather seats, and decorative wood panels on the door inserts are pieces of art in their own right, but it just doesn’t feel nearly as special without all the packages equipped.
The seat buttons are quite a nuisance as well. Mercedes has recently migrated them to the door panels, allowing them to package in wider seats. They have cleverly arranged the controls to mimic the shape of an actual seat - push the headrest-shaped knob to move the headrest, etc. Now on previous Mercedes models, these buttons had a clear indication of when they were being selected, and gave positive ‘clicky’ feedback. These new ones however, do not. They’re annoyingly stiff and carry so much resistance that you have to use every ounce of finger strength to push them, and there’s no positive feedback to let you know that they have been activated. On the bright side, every seat has a memory function so you never have to worry about using them again.
The EQS is an electrified S-Class through and through, with an impressive range, all the luxury amenities in the book, and the quietest and most comfortable ride we have ever experienced in an EV. It’s a technological tour de force that successfully puts Mercedes on the EV map, and what an impression it has made. If the upcoming electrified EQB and EQE are anywhere near as impressive as this, then every one of the Mercedes’ rivals should be worried.
Model: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC Sedan
Paint Type: Nautical Blue Metallic
Base Price: $146,500
Price as Tested: $162,150
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,265 / 1,926 (w/ mirrors) / 1,513
Curb weight (kg): 2,585
Powertrain: Dual permanently excited synchronous electric motors, 107.8 kWh battery
Horsepower: 516 hp
Torque: 631 lb-ft
Transmission: Single-speed transmission
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Claimed Range: 547 km