First Look Review: 2022 EQS 580 4MATIC by Mercedes-EQ
Mercedes’ first U.S.-market EV isn’t a shouty affair, at first glance. From afar, it looks like an E-Class that melted a bit in the Texas sun. Get closer, and you discover just how big the thing is. It’s wider than a G-Wagen and just 2.8 inches shorter than the 2022 S-Class from nose to droopy tail, with a nearly identical wheelbase. Mercedes’ Tesla fighter is quite literally a big deal. However, despite a raft of 216 lithium-ion cells sat between its axles, the clunkily named “EQS 580 4MATIC by Mercedes EQ” is a riff on a very old recipe. Hint: It starts with S.
Mercedes may have built the first automobile, but the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen didn’t forge the identity of the three-pointed star; luxury sedans—and the presidents, dictators, CEOs, and stars who were driven in them—did. Beginning officially in 1972, the flagship S-Class crystallized the Stuttgart virtues: understated exterior styling, an ornate interior, a suite of innovative tech focused on safety as much as luxury, and an effortlessly powerful drivetrain.
EQ sub-brand aside, for Mercedes to plant an S in the title of its debut EV is a powerful statement: This battery-powered vehicle is worthy of carrying the mantle of Stuttgart’s flagship product.
Two variants of the EQS will be available in the states beginning this fall: The EQS 450+ and the EQS 580 4MATIC. We spent an afternoon and a morning with the latter model, which shares its 107-kWh battery pack and standard air suspension with the 450+ but uses two motors, one on each axle, rather than just one on the rear. Along with more power and range, the 580 gets the dazzling, 56-inch Hyperscreen as standard. (It’s optional on the 450+, which defaults to the S-Class’s 12.8-inch, portrait-oriented display.) Our tester also boasted a handful of options, ones that most luxury buyers will consider no-brainers: automatic comfort doors, massaging seats, the trick augmented reality head-up display.
The EQS’ silhouette boasts all the visual drama of a Ricola cough drop, but that lozenge shape helps earn a drag coefficient of .20, the lowest of any production car. (To achieve that figure yourself, you must spec a single, optimized wheel/tire combination. Many may forgo the plastic spats and chunky Continental EcoContact rubber for aesthetic reasons.) The electric architecture that undergirds the EQS is modular, but this low-slung sedan has an advantage over EQ SUVs to come: Its long wheelbase means more room for batteries and, thus, a longer range—484 miles (converted from WLTP estimates).
Step into the EQS’ cabin, and you’re greeted by quilted, perforated leather and a 4.5-foot expanse of curved glass set off by glowing LEDs. The Hyperscreen is actually comprised of three displays: digital instrument cluster, infotainment, and passenger integrated behind one sheet of glass. (More on it in a moment.) Tap the brake pedal, and the door gently closes itself. Curves dominate EQS’s airy, generous cabin, most accented with brushed aluminum or swoops of LEDs whose diverse talents put even VW to shame. In low-speed parking maneuvers, for instance, the dash-mounted lighting elements will glow yellow or red to mark the exact location and relative proximity of an approaching lamp post or protruding building corner. Minimalism is not the Mercedes spirit. Fans of Tesla or even Porsche may think the interior garish; EQS owners will simply feel fabulous.
That 107-kWH battery pack feeds two permanently synchronous electric motors, whose total output, for the 580, is 385 kW or 516 horsepower. A “performance version” with roughly 140 more electric horses is in the works, Benz says. Torque stands at 631 lb-ft and, while there’s no lateral torque vectoring, the EQS will shuffle power from front to rear depending on drive modes and driver demands. Demand everything it’s got, and 60 mph arrives in 4.1 seconds, downright impressive for a vehicle that weighs as much as a single-wheel F-350. Charging from nearly empty (10 percent) to mostly full (80 percent) takes 31 minutes on a 110-kW DC fast charger; your 240-volt at-home outlet will take 11.25 hours to charge the EQS from 10 percent to fully charged.
Press the start button mounted on the center console, give the accelerator pedal a quick brush, and waft away. As we threaded through the kinked streets of Zürich in search of open road, the big EQS proved surprisingly reassuring. Brake modulation is immediately intuitive, and steering just heavy enough that you feel like you’re driving something Important, but not working too hard at it. A standard 10 degrees of rear-axle steering lends the EQS a 35.76-foot turning radius—not quite worthy of a Volvo 245, but close—and makes acute-angled turns a breeze. The cabin is so quiet that, some minutes after turning the seat to “cool,” we became distracted by the docile whirring of the ventilating fans.
The ride is compliant but firmer than you might expect from a vehicle designed to cosset and calm; Mercedes engineers wanted to imbue the EQS with a sportier personality than its S-Class relative and, judging from our non-floaty highway experience, they succeeded. The EQS shares most of its suspension hardware with the S-Class, though the springs are stiffer and the software is tuned to accommodate the EV’s ponderous, 5888-pound weight and more even weight distribution. The brakes discs are big enough for a Camaro ZL1: 15.35-inch rotors up front, 14.88-inch units out back.
(A qualification: For fear of the all-seeing Swiss speed-detecting radar system and a shocking amount of Alp-traversing bikers, we didn’t go full Tail of the Dragon mode. We can report, however, that the Euro-market Ranger Raptor demonstrates a left-lane personality identical to that of its full-size American cousin, placing itself centimeters from the rear bumper of the proceeding vehicle. Should you find yourself so harassed, know that the 516-hp EQS manages to impart a feeling of incredible straight-line superiority.)
When you’re traversing unfamiliar roads, the EQS’ infotainment shines. The auditory prompts are never overwhelming, and you can mute them with a single tap. The head-up display—always visible, even when seen through polarized glasses—projects floating blue arrows that fly off into the correct side street or on-ramp as you near it. Like the S-Class, the EQS watches both stationary and mobile objects and will project yellow or red blotches above the dash if a parking meter or other vehicle begins to threatens your orbit. Except for the limited array of tappable volume and cruise-control functions on the steering wheel, everything is controlled via the gigantic touchscreen, but we experienced few frustrations—graphics and response are excellent. The only high-use function that proved elusive at first was the seat massagers.
By the end of this year, German-market EQSs will boast Level 3 self-driving, which SAE defines as “conditional autonomous driving.” In more casual parlance, the car will brake itself when cut off in traffic and pull towards (but not over) the lane lines to make room for emergency vehicles. Mercedes plans to release Level 3 functions for the EQS in the U.S and the rest of the world early next year.
Mercedes hasn’t yet released pricing information for the EQS line, so we can’t properly compare it yet to its chief rivals: the Taycan, the Model S, the e-tron GT, and the Lucid Air. At first glance, the Tesla and the Porsche win the fashion show. The EQS’s origin story is closest to the e-tron GT: a luxury four-door EV made by a prestigious company that’s built a reputation on grand tourers. With the EQS, however, Mercedes appears willing to risk more: It’s built its own EV from the ground up, and associated the vehicle closely to a nameplate that’s at the core of its brand identity. Porsche and Audi appear more reluctant to mix bloodlines.
This is no half-hearted, electric apology of an S-Class; neither is it an insecure adolescent, defining itself by being so much cooler and edgier and environmentally conscious than S-badged vehicles before it. The EQS 580 translates the traditional Mercedes-Benz virtues into the BEV age with remarkable settledness.
2022 EQS 580 by Mercedes-EQ
Highs: Space-age interior filled with thoughtful, non-gimmicky tech.
Lows: Aerodynamic virtues aside, exterior is not glamorous. Weak street presence for a (presumably) high-dollar vehicle.
Summary: The well-executed EQS 580 proves that electricity has a place at the heart of the Mercedes-Benz brand.