The Mercedes EQS is Benz’s biggest EV bet yet


Conspicuous consumption with a conscience—that’s what the all-new Mercedes EQS is about. The fully-electric luxury sedan gazumps the Tesla Model S with a claimed range of over 470 miles on a charge, along with a myriad of Musk-baiting features, Benz’s legendary build quality, and a claimed carbon-neutral construction. The Porsche Taycan is also, clearly, within Mercedes’ sights.

Starting from the outside, the EQS is significantly sleeker than the related S-Class sedan, or indeed another limousine. In fact with a drag coefficient of just 0.202 it is the slipperiest production car ever made. With a cab-forward stance, a sloping fastback and a what its designers call a “one bow” profile, the EQS carries off that traditional S-Class trick of being obviously expensive, without being overly ostentatious. You should be able to glide past the proletariat without causing a riot—and they won’t hear you coming anyway because of the electric powertrain.

The EQS will arrive in the U.S.A with an initial choice of two outputs. The 450+ comes, confusingly with 329 hp, and the 580 will offer 516 hp, while a 630-hp version is slated to follow. The lower powered 450+ makes do with rear-wheel drive, while the meatier models will both feature 4MATIC all-wheel drive, courtesy of an additional front-axle motor. The battery is rated at 107.8 kWh and can be charged at a superfast 200 kW. At this rate you can add over 180 miles of range in just 15 minutes, or fully charge in a little over half an hour.

The car’s aerodynamics clearly help with eking out the maximum from the batteries, but that’s by no means the end of the car’s efficiency drive. Regenerative braking can pump up to 290 kW back into the batteries and is set up for one-pedal driving. An ECO Assist system monitors traffic, road conditions, and even topography, to maximize energy use and recovery automatically. The driver can also manually control how the car recoups power and coasts to save juice, using steering wheel paddles. The navigation system will even plan the most efficient route, including charging stops and will adapt to any changes in traffic or speed along the way.

In 450+ form the EQS will sprint to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, while the 580 reaches the same benchmark in 4.1 seconds. Both versions top out at 130 mph. These may not be Ludicrous mode numbers, but they’re hardly sluggish either. Despite its 16-feet length the EQS is claimed to be pretty agile, especially when optioned with rear-wheel steering. (Don’t worry if you forget to order, it can be enabled via an over-the-air update, along with other features.)

Like its S-Class sibling the EQS is as much, if not more, about the passengers as it is the driver and there’s a host of goodies to enhance the experience.

Getting in itself is quite the occasion. As the driver approaches the EQS the flush-fit door handle extends and the door opens automatically. When the driver is seated the passenger and rear doors can also be opened automatically. Once settled inside the plush cabin, the occupants can a range of soundscapes to suit their mood. If you want audio that responds to the drive then you can pick soundtracks titled Vivid Flux and Silver Waves which rise and fall with the car’s speed, played through the Burmester audio system. Alternatively you may prefer to chill out to a choice of Energizing Nature noises that are based on the sounds of a forest glade, the ocean and summer rain. (We can’t help thinking these last two might prompt passengers to require frequent pit stops.) On the plus side you shouldn’t need to wear a mask inside as the Energizing Air Control Plus is essentially the ultimate in HVAC, with a HEPA air filter to remove micro-particles and noxious gases, even viruses and bacteria. You can also set car to clean the cabin air before you get it.

Up front the so-called MBUX-Hypercscreen extends the full width of the dashboard and can be personalized in countless ways to manage the car’s navigation, communication, entertainment, and comfort features. The EQS has been designed to include an optional Drive Pilot system which can take full control at speeds of up to 37 mph in flowing traffic, although it isn’t legislated for use just yet. For now the car will, instead, monitor the driver’s attentiveness and provide alerts if Jeeves is dropping off or messing with his phone.

Going green with the EQS will cost you a large amount of green, however. Mercedes’ techno tour-de-force will be on sale from the fall with an estimated starting price of $100,000.

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