Amazing sound, quiet cabin, and clean air.
Mercedes has defined the idea of a full-size luxury sedan for decades in the form of its S-Class. It's big, powerful, smooth, quiet, with an interior packed with expensive materials and the latest technology. Typically, the Mercedes S-Class is at its best with a V8 or V12 under the hood. But an all-electric powertrain provides smoother and more immediate power, and is even quieter than its ICE counterparts. Mercedes brings the EQS to market as just that: An electric take on the S-Class featuring a tech-laden cabin and a choice of either one or two potent electric motors to power it. Mercedes will make a big statement with the EQS, and it's going to be loaded with features. So, let's take a deep dive into them.
Artificial intelligence is one of the fastest-growing and most important technologies of our time. The EQS has up to 350 sensors, feeding control units and algorithms information to process. Obvious information includes distances, speeds and acceleration, deceleration, lighting conditions, precipitation, temperatures, and seat occupancy. Less obvious is the driver's blink of an eye or the passenger's speech. The AI can make decisions almost instantaneously and learn over time about how the car is used. As part of the MBUX infotainment system, adaptive software then makes sure that the most pertinent applications are available at the top layer of the system and can make personalized suggestions about comfort, entertainment, or vehicle functions based on context and situation.
The centerpiece for the interior is the MBUX Hyperscreen, which stretches across the dashboard almost from A-pillar to A-pillar. Three screens make up the unit and are merged together by a length of bonded glass, and gives the driver a 12.3-inch display, the center a 17.7-inch display, and the front passenger gets a 12.3-inch display. The central and passenger display uses OLED technology, and the whole unit's brightness is adapted continuously to the interior lighting conditions. It also uses what Mercedes describes as "camera-based locking logic," which uses the camera to detect where the driver is looking to make decisions like dimming the passenger's display if the driver looks at it while the car is moving. The displays also use haptic feedback and force feedback, which changes the response depending on the pressure exerted on the screen. For example, tapping an icon will activate the function, while pressing harder can open up a settings menu.
The drivetrain of an electric car is already quiet, and Mercedes already excels at making a cabin quiet. That means it will be almost silent in the EQS, which many will appreciate. However, it also gives Mercedes room to play with "soundscapes" and create an atmosphere. The EQS comes with two soundscapes: Silver Waves and Vivid Flux. A third, Roaring Pulse, can be bought separately via an over-the-air update. The ambiance starts when approaching and getting in the EQS with welcome sounds. The driving sound changes as accelerator position, speed, or braking recuperation information is fed to the AI. The drive settings, such as using Sport mode, also affect the soundscape, as well as driver actions. According to Mercedes, "the sound design creates a holistic, multi-sensory experience that interacts with the entire vehicle."
If that's not crazy enough, the Energizer Coach feature is real and recommends a Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, or Joy program depending on the individual and situation. Its function can become more granular to the individual if they are using a Mercedes-Benz smartwatch or a compatible Garmin-enabled wearable device.
If you have the money, and you will need plenty of it to buy an EQS, you can have absolute control over your environment by adding the Energizer Air Control option. Mercedes doesn't want its customers breathing in air contaminated with things such as pollen or traffic pollutants (or poor people). The package adds a large HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, and if the recirculation setting is enabled, the interior filters reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and general odors. It reacts to sensor values detecting things like outside air quality, and will even clean the air in the car before the driver gets in it.
You can also add the Air-Balance option to get the new cabin fragrance Mercedes created for the EQS, No.6 MOOD Linen. According to Mercedes, it adds a "slight impression of a fig tree standing at a high elevation and surrounded by fresh, cool air" to the cabin.
Ride comfort is everything to a Mercedes luxury vehicle, and the EQS's four-link axle setup at the front and a multi-link axle design at the rear are similar to the S-Class suspension. It also uses Airmatic air suspension with continuously adjustable damping. The setup also adapts in height relative to speed, lowering itself at freeway speeds to optimize aerodynamics. More impressively, a sensor system and algorithms adjust the suspension in real-time to the road surface. The EQS also has a "Raise Vehicle" function for speed bumps, rough ground, or for easier ingress and egress for less-able passengers.
The EQS is a big sedan measuring a total of 205.4 inches in length. That can be an issue on tight city streets and parking structures. To help the driver, the EQS comes with rear-axle steering as standard, turning to a maximum of 4.5 degrees. If you pay to unlock the 10 degrees of steering via an OTA update, Mercedes claims the EQS has a turning circle of just 35.7 feet. That's comparable to a lot of cars in the compact and sub-compact class. The system is actuated by an electric motor via vehicle sensors and the AI to adapt the maximum angle to the situation. The Active Parking Assist feature also makes use of the rear-axle steering and when things are really tight, will make up to 12 independent moves to get the car into a space.
Mercedes's active ambient light system consists of around 190 LEDs and isn't just there for looking pretty. It's integrated into the driver assistance systems, climate control system, and charging system for visual feedback on situations and commands. In terms of ambiance, there are welcome sequences, and it's integrated into the Energizing Comfort programs for mood lighting. In terms of detail, the system works visually with the MBUX voice assistant and recognizes the position of the person speaking so it can direct cues like the system waiting for further input to be directed individually.
We're still in the stage of electrification that advancements are coming thick and fast. Both the rear-wheel-drive 450+ and 580 4Matic variants come with a 107.8-kWh battery compatible with 200 kW DC charging, meaning it can be charged from 10-80 percent in just 31 minutes. WLTP estimates put the range at 478 miles on a full charge, which leads us to expect the US's EPA number to be around 335 miles. The base 450+ model will swish its way to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive 580 will whoosh its way there in just 4.1 seconds.
The motors used are of the permanently excited synchronous variety; the rear motor has a six-phase design using two windings with three phases each. The advantage is high power density, high efficiency, and high power constancy from the drivetrain.
The cab-forward design of the EQS was a surprise from Mercedes as long hoods are the traditional mark of a powerful car. However, using an electric powertrain means the automaker can make full use of the wheelbase to enlarge the cabin. It also opens Mercedes up to playing with a seamless design and leaning into using the "Black Panel" grille and creative lighting to give the car a strong identity. The smooth lines and the chance to create a completely smooth underbody give the car superior aerodynamics. As Mercedes tells it, that the EQS is the most aerodynamic production vehicle available with its drag coefficient of just 0.20.
Mercedes does not mess around when it comes to a sound system in its highest-end cars, and the Burmester system is no exception. For a start, it features 15 loudspeakers, 15 separate amplifier channels, and a system output of 710 watts. The two subwoofers are integrated into the bulkheads while two 3D speakers in the overhead control panel to create real surround sound in a multi-channel format. Thankfully, Mercedes also understands people like their music as intended as well, and there's a "Pure" setting that removes effects for an unadulterated experience. A Vehicle Noise Compensation system is built in to adjust the sound when interfering noise is detected.
We've experienced electric vehicles that calculate battery usage to a destination and will plan based around charging stations if necessary. The Mercedes EQS system takes things to a remarkable degree, and when calling up a route, it takes in topography, ambient temperature, traffic speed, heating and cooling requirements to calculate the energy demand. If the car needs charging along the route, it will come up with specific recommendations for charging, and on long trips with multiple stops, it will recommend the most advantageous charging spots to save time. The car will also work out the estimated charging costs per charging stop. If there's a chance the vehicle doesn't have enough juice to make a charging station, it can activate the ECO mode driving functions and shut down energy-consuming features to increase range.