2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS review, first drive-through S-Class of EVs
Tesla is under fire, and it's coming from an unlikely source. Mercedes-Benz, one of the oldest makers in the world is stepping up and taking charge of the electric vehicle space. And it is doing this not as a startup would, by being brazen and disruptive. Mercedes-Benz is marrying traditional methods to new technology, and if the new EQS is anything to go by, it clearly shows you don't need to reinvent the wheel, improvements need evolution, not revolution.
So when the luxury flagship electric limousine from Mercedes-Benz, the EQS, went on sale in Europe around a year ago, it made people stand up and take notice, and appreciate what was being presented. It looked good and was attractive, had stunning technology to facilitate a better driving experience, enhance comfort and convenience, and then there was the range it offered and the real-world implications that range would have on the EV segment.
Mercedes-Benz continued to make strides, the Vision EQXX with some innovative technology and engineering stretches the charge in the EQS-sized battery to over 1000kms. Astonishing, but true! Range anxiety could well be a thing of the past, very, very soon. In fact, why wait for the EQXX, the flagship sedan we know, the EQS offers a claimed range of over 700kms (WLTP), which in real-world cycles would mean you'd drive for almost 550 usable kilometres before needing a recharge. That would be by far the vehicle with the highest range ever seen in India.
The EQS will be launched in India sometime in October. It will be offered in a single trim, the EQS 580 4MATIC and will be brought in as a completely knocked down kit, then assembled at the Benz facilities in Chakan, near Pune. This means better pricing and quicker availability. It will also be offered with several standard features that would further enhance its appeal, like the hyperscreen, the premium fittings along with top-of-the-line comfort and convenience features, 20-inch wheels with the rear wheel steer package, all-wheel drive and more. I am going to leave the details for when the is launched in India and we get our hands on it again for a full test. In the shortest time possible though, let me elaborate on the highlights that make this what it is.
Big batteries, fast charging. To date, The EQS comes with the largest battery pack in its category, and at a 107.7kWh capacity, it easily dwarves most of its or British counterparts. The battery size though is also a drawback as it can only fit a certain type of vehicle, a large sedan like the EQS or the upcoming EQS SUV for instance. So until battery allows for denser composition, SUVs like the EQC, e-Tron and others will have to make do with batteries no larger than 85-90kWh. This is changing, and a quick look at the Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD will show that charge density is growing to make smaller batteries more powerful. Smaller EVs though for now would still need smaller batteries. However as Mercedes pointed out and have clearly stated, certain body styles may no longer support electrification, and they as a company may have to move out of those segments. This is clearly an indication that hatchbacks and compact sedans may not be a viable option for electrification as the battery size would get too small and therefore range too low to add any value to the ownership experience.
The EQS's battery can be charged at speeds up to 180kW from a DC station and a full 100 percent charge should take less than half an hour to charge. On a DC charger, it can also charge at speeds of up to 22kW which means most home box units can be used optimally. Other charging options include the recuperative methods, using either the brakes or negative acceleration through two stages of recuperation. In the highest 'D+' mode, the EQS simply coasts without gaining any charge. Yank the left paddle shift and you can drop to 'D' which mildly induces recuperation. 'D-' is the strongest recuperation you can get, though it is also the mode in which you feel the most deceleration, bordering on the uncomfortable. There is also a D Auto mode which allows the EQS to decide how it needs to recuperate energy.
You also get the one-pedal driving experience, but this is not a default setting, and you have to select the function using the menus on the main screen. What the EQS has is a sort of crawl function when in D- mode, this slowly allows the EQS to creep forward at very slow speeds especially useful in dense but moving traffic.
Big on space, luxury and pace. That is what the EQS is. The version we would be offered is the EQS 580 4MATIC, the quickest and most powerful in the range sans AMG power. Output is the equivalent of 516 horsepower and 620Nm and it is capable of hitting the ton in 4.1 seconds. That makes it astonishingly quick for a sedan that weighs around 2.4 tons! Power is delivered to all four wheels via two electric motors. Both these are permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM). In the 4MATIC models, the torque distribution between the motors at the front and rear axles is intelligently done by the Torque Assist function.
The motors are engaged via a fixed ratio transmission, and a single gear gearbox, but you can engage a variety of drive modes. You have Individual, Sport, Comfort and Economy. Each mode alters the throttle map and induces various states of performance. While comfort is the defacto mode of operation, the economy gets you out of trouble. However, sport is very interesting. Not only does it give you access to the full range of torque, but there is also a variety of motive sounds churned out from the Burmeister speakers. It's a bit geeky and a little over the top but it can be switched off.
Big and wieldy? On the dynamic side of things, the EQS 580 4MATIC floats just as smoothly as the S-Class does. The air dampers support and balance the EQS 580 4MATIC quite smoothly when on the move, but expect limousine-like cornering, not. There is a strong sense of body and understeer you get when you push this hard around the corners and that's perhaps because of that massive battery pack. At highway speeds on a straight patch, the EQS feels confident with progressive damping. The ride is superb, worthy of the flagship status it bears. The steering is light, progressively getting heavier as speeds increase. I would have liked to have seen a slightly smaller wheel. Also, like in the S-Class, this needs just a single turn, from one end to the other. That's because it has got rear-wheel steering just like in the S-Class, resulting in a very tight 10.9 metre diameter turning radius! It makes the EQS 580 turn into corners quicker too, but you do feel the understeer as the front end fights to break away from the corner.
Big on value. That is what I'd like to believe, but here is the thing. I'm caught up in between.
There are features on the EQS 580 4MATIC that are clearly outstanding. The hyperscreen for instance is a marvel, edge to edge glass panelling is sensational. But, it's also just 3 individual touch screens behind that single glass panel. I don't know why a passenger would need a separate screen, the cabin's large, but you don't need to stretch far out to operate the main 17.8" infotainment screen? And I'd rather operate the centre screen because it's just so gorgeous without being distracting. I can't wait for the day when Mercedes makes this an entirely single display that stretches from ear to ear.
It also got auto, or advanced driver assistance systems level 3 which allows them to drive by itself endlessly, as long as the conditions are right. This means continuously marked lanes, proper signs and disciplined traffic. Won't work in India, that's why it isn't being offered.
The EQS 580 4MATIC though is brilliant, it drives like a dream and is almost everything you would expect of a flagship vehicle. And yet, I'd recommend you buy the S-Class unless you are an early adopter. The sense of grandeur you get in the S-Class, that, the aura and the unmistakable sense of supreme luxury, well it just isn't there in the EQS 580 4MATIC. True the rear cabin is this inanely cavernous room, the rear seats recline, massage you and generally take good care of your well-being over short or long drives. What it does not have is that overwhelming sense of luxury the S-Class possesses. I can't recommend it either on the pretext that it would cost next to nothing to run. The price of the entry itself would be so steep, that it would be simply foolish to discuss fuel prices with someone who could afford a sitting at the top of the pyramid.
This is however the future and it's not too far from you. As far as luxury electric sedans go, there is nothing better, not even the Taycan or the Model S come close to the spectacularness of the EQS!
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