The usual German luxury carmakers dipped their toes into the EV space with SUV models, not including Porsche, of course. But now it’s the time for the sedans, GTs and coupes. Mercedes-Benz has finally revealed the production-spec version of the EQS, the all-electric equivalent of its flagship S-Class luxury limo.
Mercedes had teased the EQS in concept form in 2019 and the final model does look quite similar. It has a very similar shape with short overhangs front and rear. The all-electric architecture takes away the need for a large bonnet allowing for a cab-forward design that opens up the passenger space inside. Like most new Mercedes cars, the EQS styling is smooth with barely any lines, rounded edges and a flowing aesthetic. The front fascia gets the black panel that replaces the grille seen on ICE (internal combustion engine) models and is one of the key visual elements for Mercedes’ EQ electric vehicle lineup. On the EQS, it features a 3D star pattern around the large three-pointed star badge in the centre.
One of the most notable differences between the concept and the production-spec model is the front end. The large black panel that cascaded from the bonnet line nearly to the chin spoiler on the 2019 concept and featured no vents on the rest of the bumper. However, the 2021 factory-spec model has a smaller black panel to make room for a bumper design that has an air dam, vents on either side and room for a number plate. The headlamps look similar to the ones seen on the latest S-Class with the three light dots. An aesthetic detail that has been carried forward from the concept is the dual-tone paint finish with black for the top half of the car, extending almost down to the door handles. It also gets the special aero wheel design option in 19-, 20-, and 21-inch sizes. However, for extreme stance, there’s a 22-inch wheel design on offer as well.
On the EQS, they’re connected by a light band along the bonnet line. The taillamps of the electric luxury limo are the same shape as the ones on the usual S-Class but with EQ-styling details including the connecting light strip. The rear end of the EQS is not quite as smooth and simplistic. It has air outlets behind the rear wheel arches with a sporty design for the blacked-out bottom half of the rear bumper. The diffuser design is quite prominent and spans the width of the rear since there’s no exhaust requirement. While the production-spec EQS bumpers don’t look as smooth as the one on the concept, the additional vents aid the car’s aerodynamic efficiency which is important for increasing an EVs range.
In fact, the Mercedes-Benz EQS is THE most aerodynamic production car today with a drag coefficient of 0.20cd, just a bit slippier than the latest Tesla Model S.
While the exterior styling feels typical Mercedes, the cabin of the EQS feels far more futuristic. Its party piece is the MBUX Hyperscreen: a large curved glass cover that integrates three large displays as it spans from the left corner of the dashboard to the right. That includes a 12.3-inch LCD driver’s display, 17.7-inch OLED touchscreen central display and a 12.3-inch OLED touchscreen display for the front passenger. The touchscreen displays offer haptic feedback for various interactions with the car’s infotainment system and vehicle controls.
However, like any model, this Hyperscreen is an optional extra. As standard, the EQS dashboard is very similar to that of the S-Class with a free-standing digital driver’s display and a vertically-oriented central touchscreen display that seems to be rising from the central console tunnel. There’s also an optional heads-up display that spans the width of the windscreen with augmented reality that can interactively display a host of information, like the GPS navigation in a Need For Speed video game.
The really clever bit is the MBUX system itself which packs an impressive amount of computing hardware. It offers an intelligent, user-friendly experience with a digital assistant that will carry out various controls via voice command. The system learns the owners’ preferences to deliver an optimised and personalised experience in terms of the seat position, massage settings, climate control, mood lighting, audio settings, and even the ride and handling setup. It will also display the right visuals at the appropriate times on the various screens and sometimes throw in reminders as well. It can also remember to lift the suspension when you approach inclines or high bumps. If you used the lift system manually, the MBUX system makes a note of where it was that you did and then do it automatically when you reach the same GPS location the next time. There are cameras in the driver display with face recognition that can be used for biometric authentication, fatigue detection and adjusting the rearview mirrors. They can also detect if the driver is getting distracted by the passenger side display and dim it from view to reduce distractions. Plus, that display is only functional when it detects a person in that seat. If facial recognition is not your preferred safety measure, you can set a PIN or even use the fingerprint scanner to verify yourself as the rightful user of the EQS.
There are more screens available for the rear passengers of the EQS: two 11.6-inch displays with touch controls on the backrests of the front seats. Also, there is the option of a pop-out tablet (housed in the central armrest) that you can use for cabin controls from outside the vehicle as well. The rest of the cabin is as one would expect from a Mercedes S-Class luxury sedan. There is lots of sound deadening and active noise cancellation for a quiet ride with the option of a 15-speaker Burmester sound system to enjoy your tunes with minimal interference. As a top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz luxury limo, it comes with a host of the brand’s latest safety technology suite and advanced driver assist systems that use a mix of connected tech, sensors and cameras. However, the full breadth of Mercedes autonomous capabilities is restricted by legal permissions. Like the S-Class, the EQS already has the tech onboard but it cannot offer it to users just yet.
Mercedes took a leaf out of the Rolls-Royce book of opulent tricks by offering the EQS with the option of powered front and rear doors, calling them Comfort Doors. They will open on their own when they detect the user approach the car with the key in their pocket and can be closed/opened by the driver using gesture controls. Just pressing on the brake pedal can also send the command to close the door. It uses various sensors to detect possible hazards so it won’t just open the door into a wall or passing traffic. These powered doors can also be controlled via the key, the central display and also by the rear entertainment system.
If you do want to open the door by hand, the handles that sit flush into the panel will pop out as you approach.
So, the EQS is a lot like the S-Class. Cool. But what about the batteries and electric powertrain? Well, there will be two batteries on offer but we only know that the larger one has a usable energy capacity of 107.8kWh (over a quarter more than Merc’s debut EV, the EQC electric SUV). It will get the choice of single-motor RWD and dual-motor AWD variants. At its debut, Mercedes is only talking about two variants: EQS 450+ and EQS 580 4MATIC. Both get the same battery option, the large one. The single, rear-mounted electric motor of the EQS 450+ offers 329bhp and 568Nm of torque for a claimed 0-100kph time of 6.2 seconds. The dual-motor (one on each axle) 580 4MATIC variant promises to deliver 516bhp and 855Nm of torque with which Mercedes estimates a 0-100kph time of 4.3 seconds. That’s quite impressive considering that the EQS has a gross weight of around 3 tonnes. Given the brand’s dominance in motorsports, especially in Formula 1, there will be a performance version of the EQS as well with around 750bhp and more than 1,000Nm of torque on offer.
The German luxury brand is being a bit cagey with the exact range figures but states that the highest distance an EQS variant can pull off would be 770km (as per the WLTP test cycle). However, according to the official kWh/100km consumption figures, Mercedes estimates a maximum of 686km for the 450+ variant and 619km for the dual-motor 580 4MATIC variant. So, perhaps the exact specifications of the 770km EQS are yet to be revealed.
Since the EQS measures more than 5.2 metres in length, it gets rear-wheel steering as standard. It turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels to reduce turning radius, and in the same direction at high speeds for increased stability through corners. This system allows the rear wheel to turn in either direction up to an angle of 4.5 degrees but if you pay Mercedes a little extra cash, they can turn further, up to 10 degrees. If you use the autonomous park assist, it can also turn both front and rear wheels in the same direction at crawl speeds to sort of ‘crab walk’ the car out of a tight spot.
These launch trims of the EQS get the same charging capabilities with a 400V rating for its electrical architecture. They have a charge capacity of up to 200kW for a full charge in 31 minutes and can add nearly 300km of range in just 15 minutes. A standard 11kW wallbox will take 10 hours for a full charge. These charge times and range figures from Mercedes come with a crucial asterisk: estimated under ideal conditions. The true range of the luxurious EQS will probably depend on how many of its amazing features are in use during a drive, even if its owner is being loftily chauffeured around.
While the Mercedes-Benz EQS doesn’t come across as a ground-breaking model, it does set a new benchmark for luxury EV models. Until now, that segment has been populated by less luxurious electric SUVs or sporty electric sedans that offer a dynamic driving experience. But Mercedes has become the first to offer conventional luxury motoring combined with electric propulsion. A fairly well-specced example of the EQS would easily cross US$135,000 even though the starting price would be around US$100,000. This would position the EQS between the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan. While the Audi e-tron GT would be priced similar to the EQS, its cabin is not on the same level in terms of luxury and comfort since it is a sportier coupe-styled offering.
What do you make of the EQS? Would you pick it over the standard S-Class? Will its luxurious interior be enough to convert the usual chauffeur-driven buyers to EVs? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.