A segment previously dominated by V8s and V12s has a new arrival.
A fully electric powertrain in the full-size luxury sedan class would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. This is a segment much more associated with large-capacity V8 and V12 engines; these gas-guzzling powerplants were always as much about their power and performance as they were a status symbol.
That's all changed with the arrival of the new Mercedes-Benz EQS, essentially a fully electric version of the S-Class. Mercedes has given it an identity all of its own, a remarkably high-tech cabin, and either one or two potent electric motors depending on the trim you go for. Does it shake up the luxury sedan segment as we've always known it? Let's dive in and find out.
We're all familiar with the unveiling of stunning concept cars, only to see the production version of these concepts being disappointingly toned down. While we wouldn't describe the EQS as conservative, it lacks the graceful, stunning lines of the Vision EQS concept. Maybe it's the odd two-tone paint job but it's a harder design to love.
That said, it successfully distances itself from the S-Class with its coupe-like lines, cab-forward design, and large wheels measuring up to 22 inches. A traditional radiator grille has been replaced by a 'Black Panel' unit which sits just below a full-width LED light band. An AMG Line exterior with specific bumpers and wheels is available, giving it a sportier look than the Standard Line exterior. Other nice touches include frameless doors and flush door handles.
From behind the wheel, the EQS looks like it's from another planet. The full-width dashboard screen, dubbed the MBUX Hyperscreen, spans over 56 inches wide, made up of a 12.3-inch driver display, a 17.7-inch central display, and another 12.3-inch display ahead of the front passenger. This hyperscreen is standard on the EQS 580, whereas the EQS 450+ uses a 12.8-inch OLED portrait display in the center of the dashboard.
The standard and optional features list is a long one which is no surprise considering the segment that the EQS slots into. Among the available items in the cabin are a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, active ambient lighting with 190 LEDs, and no less than 350 sensors. There's even a Power Nap function that reclines the seat, closes the roof sunshade, and more to promote a peaceful atmosphere when, for example, you're parked at a charging station. Dual-zone climate control can be upgraded to a four-zone system and, overall, the EQS blends luxury and technology beautifully.
Initially, the EQS will be available in rear-wheel-drive 450+ and 580 4Matic variants. Permanently excited synchronous electric motors are used and, in the 450+, the rear motor produces 329 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The EQS 580 sends power to all four corners and its two motors produce 516 hp and 611 lb-ft. The base model will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and the 580 will cut that time down to 4.1 seconds. Both have a top speed of 130 mph.
The 107.8-kWh battery is compatible with 200 kW DC charging. At a fast-charging DC charging station, the EQS battery can be recharged from 10-80 percent in just 31 minutes. Based on the WLTP standard, up to 186 miles of range can be added to the 450+ in only 15 minutes or 174 miles of range in the case of the more powerful 580. With 9.6 kW AC charging via either a public charging point or a wall box, the EQS will take 11.25 hours to charge fully. We expect future high-performance versions of the EQS, possibly AMG versions, to be even quicker than these two launch models.
Based on WLTP estimates, the EQS will be able to travel 478 miles on a full charge, although US EPA numbers are likely to be closer to about 335 miles.
The EQS is one of the most advanced vehicles on the planet and it would take more space than we have here to sift through the many technologies at play. The Plug & Charge system makes charging painless, merely requiring the driver to plug in and wait. This becomes the first Mercedes with the ability to activate new features in functional areas with over-the-air updates. For instance, it will be possible to unlock the rear-axle steering with a larger steering angle after purchase.
The new Energizing Air Control Plus system ensures the best possible air quality in the interior by stopping fine particles, pollen, and sulphur dioxide from getting inside. For more convenience, the driver can use MBUX to open any other door to let in passengers. Of course, there are a plethora of driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, and two sizes for the head-up display system.
Mercedes-Benz hasn't yet shared pricing for the new EQS, which is expected to make its way to local dealerships in fall 2021. However, we do expect a slight premium over the new S-Class. With that in mind, you're likely looking at a starting price of well into six figures. The closest thing to the EQS is perhaps the Porsche Taycan, but that luxury sedan is more focused on performance, whereas the EQS is unashamedly about pampering its occupants.
With its unique design, sensational interior, and powerful electric powertrains, the EQS is different enough from the S-Class to be worth consideration. It remains to be seen if shoppers in this exclusive segment embrace it as openly as more traditional flagship sedans.