Being green has never looked this good.
After much teasing and even more anticipation, the Mercedes-Benz EQS has finally been revealed. As expected it's loaded with tech and luxury enhancements and somehow manages to make a regular S-Class look dull. If you want to draw attention without trying, this is the car for you. But what if you value driving pleasure above luxury?
Another German offering revealed after immense anticipation was Audi's e-tron GT, and it too has striking looks and an all-electric powertrain. But which is better? Are there any similarities beyond the means of propulsion or are these cars just too different? Let's find out.
Audi's e-tron GT is immediately identified as the more attractive of the two vehicles. Pronounced arches, a coupe-like roofline, and a low, sleek hood all contribute to the sporty look of this car, as do vents in the front fenders and aggressive HD Matrix headlights with Audi laser light. Big, 20-inch wheels fill those arches while a stubby rear end with a complex lighting fixture finishes the design off perfectly. It looks low, flat, and aerodynamic, and the wind tunnel confirms that it is very slippery; Audi says the drag coefficient is an incredibly low 0.24. Sure, EVs are really heavy, but they're making up for it in other ways.
But if Audi can do it, Merc can do it better. The most aerodynamic production car on the planet, the EQS has a drag coefficient of just 0.20 - even lower than that of the Lucid Air. But you don't really need the figures to tell you that. The body of the EQS is far smoother than that of the e-tron GT, and the end product is remarkable in different light conditions. As is fashionable, full-width LED taillights are present here too, and the front of the car gets the same. Wheel offerings range from 19 to 21 inches while a panoramic sunroof enhances the roomy feeling inside. Sure, that two-tone paint job might not be to everyone's liking, but it makes the car appear smaller and sleeker, as do retracting automatic door handles. We think the Merc wins from a design standpoint.
The big news in the infotainment industry has been the arrival of Merc's insane new Hyperscreen. This is a 55.5-inch display that stretches across the entire dashboard and is made up of a 12.3-inch driver display, a massive 17.7-inch infotainment display, and a second 12.3-inch screen for the front passenger. However, this amazing new tech is optional and will only be fitted to the range-topping EQS 580 4MATIC as standard, while the lesser EQS 450+ gets a still-impressive 12.8-inch OLED portrait display. With a 3D sound system and a "familiar and intuitive" feel, this new tech has taken the industry by storm and will surely be replicated by others very soon.
With so much screen space to compete with, the e-tron GT's 10-inch MMI infotainment screen and 12.3-inch driver info display may seem a little disappointing, but you do get all the usual niceties: navigation, a WiFi hotspot, smartphone integration, and the option of a 16-speaker sound system from Bang & Olufsen. The cabin design here is focused more on the driver than other passengers and it looks and feels far more traditional than that of the Merc. With recycled materials and plenty of faux suede in the forms of Dinamica and Alcantara, it's still a gorgeous cabin. Looking for something dripping with tech? The Merc is obviously your best bet, but if you like a more traditional approach, the Audi won't disappoint.
The Audi e-tron GT is fitted with two electric motors - one on each axle. The combined power of the system - with its novel two-speed automatic that enhances acceleration - is rated at 469 horsepower with 465 lb-ft of torque. An overboost function that can be accessed with launch control temporarily gives you 522 hp and 472 lb-ft, while three-chamber air suspension maintains comfort and handling to a high level. The sprint to 60 mph takes 3.9 seconds, despite a curb weight of over 5,000 pounds, and the top speed is rated at 152 mph. Audi claims a range of 238 miles from the 93.4-kWh battery and the ability to regain 62 miles of range in five minutes on a DC fast charger, thanks to 800-volt charging.
Mercedes takes a different approach. Available in rear or all-wheel-drive, the EQS offers buyers more choice. The entry-level offering is the EQS 450+, and its rear-mounted electric motor produces 329 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, giving it the ability to sprint from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The AWD 580 4MATIC, with its two asynchronous electric motors, produces 516 hp and an impressive 611 lb-ft of torque. This translates to a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, but both models are limited to 130 mph. The Mercedes offers rear-wheel steering, but the Audi will surely be better to drive spiritedly. The Merc will get the last word in luxury. A high-performance EQS with more than 600 horses is coming at some point too.
Until then, you get a 107.8-kWh battery and a WLTP range of 478 miles. On the EPA tests, we expect it to manage around 335 miles. On a 200 kW public fast charger, you will be able to recover 186 miles of range in just 15 minutes or charge from 10 to 80 percent in 31 minutes.
Both the Merc and the Audi will take all night to recharge fully on a traditional AC outlet.
Neither of these vehicles are cheap. The Audi e-tron GT starts at $99,900 for the Premium Plus trim while the range-topping Prestige variant costs $107,100. Sure, there are federal tax incentives, but with a couple of options, you're still going to be paying six figures. What about the EQS? Well, Mercedes hasn't released pricing information just yet, but when the traditional S-Class starts at just under $95,000, you can bet that the EQS will cost more than the Audi, before you even think about adding that Hyperscreen.
So which is better? Well, the Audi is the EV of choice for the discerning driving enthusiast and looks absolutely stunning. The Merc is the ultimate luxury EV and will still snap necks, but with its futuristic looks. We think Mercedes wins because it pushes the segment to a new level of luxury and technological excellence, as anything Merc makes with an S in its name generally does. What Merc has created here will become commonplace in a decade, and that's something no other marque can compete with.