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Mercedes-Benz EQS review

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At last, it’s a bespoke electric Mercedes. Up until now, there’s been a reluctance about EVs from the company that invented the automobile. A sense of ‘oh, if we have to’. Which is why the EQA, EQB, EQC crossovers and EQV van are all battery-stuffed versions of existing Mercedes underpinnings. And as a result, they’re heavy and more cramped than a ground-up, clean-sheet EV.

That’s what the EQS is: all-new. Not an electrified S-Class, but an S-Class sized luxury saloon riding on a new platform big enough to contain a massive 107.8kWh battery in its enormous wheelbase. It’s a five-metre long riposte to all the EV newcomers. Mercedes is here for the new era, and it’s thrown everything it’s got at this flagship.


You can have rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and up to 484 miles of claimed range. And that’s merely the tip of not so much a technological iceberg as an entire glacier of cleverness.

We’ve driven the EQS 450+, which begins the range with a single 325bhp rear motor and low-end hot hatch performance: 0-62mph in 6.2sec and 130mph flat out. Above this comes the EQS 580 4Matic: twin motors drop range to 420 miles, but slices almost two seconds from the 0-62mph sprint. Later, a 700bhp+ AMG EQS will arrive to duel the Porsche Panamera Turbo S and Tesla Model S Plaid with supercar-embarrassing urgency. Be afraid, tyres.

Up to 10 degrees of rear-wheel steering gives the EQS the manoeuvrability of an A-Class, and superlative high-speed stability. It rides on air suspension that can log bumps and share their location with other local Mercs so colleagues soften their suspension in time to cushion the pothole. Its cabin is isolated with noise-cancelling technology.

As you can see from the not-at-all traditional cab-forward shape, it’s the world’s slipperiest production car, with the aerodynamic drag coefficient of a greaseproof paper aeroplane. Oh, and the doors open and close themselves, to save you the effort.


Then you’re in a world of leather, tasteful unpolished wood, and if you’ve ticked the box for the optional 55-inch ‘Hyperscreen’ panel, one of the most jaw-dropping automotive interfaces ever devised. It’s pure concept car made real.

A triplet of digital displays behind a single glass vista, it’s the EQS’s single most recognisable feature – and a statement of intent from one of the car’s world’s old guard, that it’s not afraid to take on the likes of Tesla when it comes to ambitious minimalist design.


It’s not the fastest: the EQS can accept rates of up to 200kW, which is slower than Audi’s e-tron GT, Porsche Taycan and the Tesla clan can manage. Still, the EQS can replenish from 10 to 80 per cent in just half an hour via a 350kW rapid charger, or two hours on a relatively common 50kW charging post.

By signing up to MercedesMe Charge, multiple charge providers can be accessed via a single card, so you won’t need to carry a smartphone full of various apps around forever forgetting your password when in need of a pit stop.

In the 21st Century, a luxury electric automobile is only as relaxing as its charging experience…


We expected the EQS to be a technical tour de force, but what’s gratifying about this R&D budget-swallowing flagship is it has all the charm of a traditional luxury car

We expected the EQS to be a technical tour de force, but what’s gratifying about this R&D budget-swallowing flagship is it has all the charm of a traditional luxury car. We wondered if an electrified limo would somehow be more of an appliance than the V8 and V12 ancestors that it will one day usurp. But it’s not.

The EQS grasps all the advantages an EV promises – smoothness, peace, effortless performance and clever body packaging – and blends all of the above with everything Mercedes has learned over several decades of building classy plutocrat barges. It’s an exquisite vehicle to cover distance in, to drive or in which to be driven, finished nigh-on perfectly and peppered with attention to detail.

What can puncture the bliss? Well, the Hyperscreen and touch-sensitive steering wheel controls might well put off less dextrous technophobes (perhaps that’s an entirely deliberate move). And if you drive it with the carefree consumption of a regular S-Class, you can knock 80-100 miles off the claimed range.

This isn’t a machine to hypermile in – people don’t pay £100,000 for three-pointed star deluxe then don gloves and a scarf to avoid running the heater.

But those aren’t flaws exclusive to the EQS, or any EV. And they’re not enough to spoil the experience of one of the most complete EVs that (huge amounts of) money can buy.

Perhaps the most notable legacy of the EQS is that it proves Mercedes is now taking EVs seriously – and promising a fleet of battery-powered models that’ll mirror its engine-powered range by 2025 – the traditional old guard can tackle the EV start-ups head on. Bring on the smaller, cheaper EQE. Bring on the e-AMGs. Let battle commence.



Mercedes has resisted what must have been a sizeable temptation to reimagine how to operate a car. Unlike a Tesla or a Polestar, there is an actual on/off button to wake the EQS up – hold it to activate the powertrain. Drive or reverse is selected by a (somewhat cheap-feeling) stalk behind the steering wheel, like every other Mercedes.

Metal paddleshifters behind the impossibly supple steering wheel dictate the regenerative braking. There is nothing here that’s unfamiliar or gimmicky.


Driving modes too are standard Benz procedure: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. One presumes the AMG version will have a Race or Sport+ function. But mostly, you’ll leave it in Comfort, where the ride – even on 21-inch AMG rims – is more pliant, quieter and just downright better than an S-Class’s. Yet because the centre of gravity is low-slung, the EQS doesn’t feel ungainly as it sweeps into a bend.

There’s body roll, no meaningful ‘feel’ from the steering and despite the best efforts of the air suspension, that near 2.5-tonne inertia is ever-present. But somehow, it’s less barge-like than the luxury limos we’ve been brought up on. And it feels less loose on its springs and generally less fidgety than a Tesla Model S.

It feels, frankly, more like a proper limousine. It’s not a sports saloon like a Taycan, neither is it billed as one.


It’s hardly original to suggest that luxury cars will suit EV motoring to a tee, what with deluxe barges already being heavy, majoring on quietness and depending on a torque delivery apparently supplied by honey being poured out of a jar.

But the EQS does a bloody good job of proving that when all of these elements are maximised, the result is less a car, more a business class isolation chamber. Performance is swift and unabated, but never breathtakingly quick. It’s uncannily quiet, right up to truly range-decimating speeds, where the mirrors whistle just a little in the breeze. We’d sooner have that than cameras doing their job (badly) instead.

The powertrain is of course silent too. No detectable motor whine to speak of. Mercedes has built augmented sound profiles into the car’s menu matrix that pipe in V8-aping or future-esque warbles, but they seem to rather spoil the effect the experts have slaved for, like dumping squeezy-cheese on a Michelin star’d buffet.

In the latest S-Class, which is a remarkable express, there is merely a hint of fuel being burned in the distance, or pistons reciprocating and a transmission engaging. In the EQS, it’s seamless. It has that Rolls-Royce-like sense of being impossible to drive erratically, as if every input is chamfered, damped and signed off before being allowed to affect the car’s impeccable behaviour.

It turns a lackadaisical chauffeur into a model one, and can actually slow the EQS better than the driver, thanks to an automatic recuperation mode that uses sensors and GPS data to decide how much re-gen to employ for the smoothest, most efficient stop. Similar tech has appeared in other electric Mercs, but this is its best application yet.


As a luxury saloon then, the EQS is world-class. As an EV, it’s good, but not entirely anxiety-proof if you’re a very high-mileage driver, but having the biggest battery of any EV yet means you’re hardly likely to be threading extension cables through a stranger’s window.

We found real-world range to lie between 370 and 410 miles in the EQS 450+, depending on how much motorway cruising (at motorway speeds) you intend on, and how hard you’re working the scented air-con and so on. The official claim is 484 miles, though 21-inch wheels on the test car (optional on AMG-line spec) put a dent in that.

Our pre-production prototype test car averaged a reasonable 3.6 miles per kWh, meaning from the useable battery capacity of 107.8kWh, a maximum endurance of 388 miles, which tallies exactly with what we got on a 70mph southbound cruise from Edinburgh towards London on a hot day: 379 miles covered with 9 left on the clock.



A question for the future: will anyone buy a £100,000+ EQS and not tick the box marked ‘Hyperscreen’? The single-pane multiplex inside the EQS is in fact an option, replacing a DIN radio. Only kidding. As standard it’s a more conventional raked touchscreen as found in the S-Class. Expect it to cost several thousand pounds.


In return for this enormous investment, you actually get three screens encased in a 141cm (55-inch) glass façade that contains enough processors to mine a fortune in Bitcoin and run a small space programme.

Two are 12.3 inches across, with one acting as your fairly conventional digital instrument display behind the steering wheel. This display misses out on the 3D rendering offering in the S-Class, because the glass itself is slightly curved in the EQS, whereas it needs to be flat for the perspective shift to work. We didn’t miss it.

Bookending the dash on the passenger’s side is another 12.3-inch readout which looks simply like a normal Mercedes MBUX infotainment screen. The passenger can view the nav, choose radio or media to listen to, watch television, or play a handful of relatively primitive games. However, because the screen can be easily seen from the driver’s seat, many of these functions are locked when underway to avoid distraction.

And yes, the car knows where you’re looking. There are some 350 sensors in the EQS measuring your attention level, what you’re touching, and where you’re looking. Case in point: the mirrors. You don’t have to press a button to select Left or Right before adjusting them. Just look at the mirror you want to dip, prod the adjustment toggle, and the correct mirror will obey. This is luxury car design by telepathy.

Back to the screen burn. The passenger can operate their touchscreen readout independently by speaking to it via ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assist – there are separate microphones which can detect where the voice is coming from. Likewise, if the seat is vacated, the screen enters a standby mode showing a fanciful Mercedes concept car, a sort of ‘here’s what your EQS would look like if we didn’t need to worry about cost or crashing’.

Overall it’s a ‘nice-to-have’, but most passengers will give up on it and return to their swifter, better-connected smartphone within minutes. Try again when you’ve built-in a selfie camera and TikTok, Mercedes.


And so to the main event: the 17.7-inch central screen. Here lie the (permanently rendered) heater and A/C controls, a home button which defaults to the huge map (nice touch) and a set of widgets that change depending on what you happen to use most often – the seat massager, or drive settings, for instance.

On the whole the screen is fast reacting, only stuttering if you many-tap the back ‘button’ and ask it to burrow out of sub-menus in a hurry. Reflections aren’t an issue and even with direct sunlight beaming in, the screen remains easy to read. It also doesn’t get as warm to the touch as a Tesla’s screen when working hard.


The rest of the cabin is exquisite. Real metal and unpolished wood meet with tight shutlines and soft leather. The turbine vents would grace any Pagani or Bugatti hypercar, and the animated ambient lighting walks the tightrope of garishness expertly. At night, it’s a true cyberpunk experience.

It really is a beautifully built machine, and despite being so minimalist, feels lavish and expensive instead of sparse and office-like. The pillarless doors swing open with a stroke of the pop out handle, and the driver can close their door by simply squeezing the brake pedal. All of the doors can be opened and closed via the touchscreen, which will be rather useful on the school run.


In the back, it’s not as vast as an S-Class, because of the sweeping roofline and shorter rear door, but there’s still room for a semi-reclined adult passenger behind a tall driver, in an airy and equally well-finished environment.

The EQS is a five-seater as standard (though the middle rear perch is extremely narrow) but this can be folded down into an armrest, featuring an optional tablet to control rear-seat entertainment. You’d happily be chauffeured back here, nestling into the pillow-show headrests and marvelling at the lack of disturbance from the outside world. Being a hatchback, cargo area access is easier than the saloon S-Class, but not as roomy, though the split-folding seats increase room for those runs to the tip all EQS owners will doubtless spend their weekends attending. Visibility is commendable besides the enormous front pillars. Oh, and don’t go looking for a bonnet latch – there’s no front boot here. In fact, the clamshell nose is entirely sealed for better aerodynamics – so you top up the washer fluid via a pop-out gutter on the car’s flanks.

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