Robb Review: Mercedes-Benz EQS

The German marque’s first EV is an S-Class for the new age.

By Basem Wasef 27/09/2021

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long dominated the executive-sedan category with a simple formula, flawlessly executed: seamless propulsion, understated elegance and lavish, amenity-laden comfort. Then the world started paying attention to the electric revolution—S-Class customers included. In response, Mercedes-Benz has finally launched its EQS, the first fully electric luxury sedan from one of the industry’s founding marques, recognisably related to its internal-combustion-powered stablemate and yet a daring departure nonetheless. It’s an S-Class, but certainly not the kind you’re accustomed to.

The design is fittingly bold, though far from the prettiest bod Mercedes has produced. The battery-based architecture sitting beneath the occupants creates a low centre of gravity, while the gently arcing roofline optimises slippery aerodynamics with the so-called “one-bow” design, which cuts a single curve from tip to tail. The curiously cab-forward nose carries through a high-waisted midsection and resolves in a gently tapered rear hatch that opens to a sizable trunk. Some may quibble about its unconventional proportions, but it’s all to a purpose: The EQS cuts through the air with minimal disruption, delivering a 0.20 drag coefficient—the lowest of any production car.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 580

The interior of the new EQS from Mercedes-EQ. Mercedes-Benz

The optional self-opening doors welcome the driver with an eerily silent sweep, then seal you in with a gentle thunk. Inside the futuristic exterior, you’ll find familiar executive-sedan materials such as leather and natural-grain wood, much like in a standard S-Class. But the arched roof dictates some of the interior ergonomics, placing the dashboard unusually high against the windscreen.

Still, the EQS evokes a feeling of well-crafted, old-world solidity despite its unrepentant digitisation, which includes a 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel, a 12.8-inch central display and an available Hyperscreen, which adds a customizable touchscreen display ahead of the front passenger.

Despite the newfangled bits, the EQS largely retains all the kinesthetic touchpoints that make the S-Class a nearly unbeatable benchmark in its segment. One turn of the thick-rimmed, leather-lined steering wheel reveals the perfect weight: just enough drag to suggest heft, precisely enough lightness to infer ease. Similarly well-balanced is the accelerator pedal, which summons 568Nm of torque to the rear wheels in the 450+ model and 855Nm to all four corners in the dual-motor-powered 580 4Matic.

The thrust is discreetly quiet yet satisfyingly insistent; the plush head pillow sees plenty of action during acceleration. While not as brutally quick as, say, Tesla’s 745kW Model S Plaid, the EQS covers zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds—expedient, not ludicrous. The four modes of regenerative braking are precisely calibrated, enabling effortless coasting, moderate resistance or just enough deceleration to bring the nearly three-ton sedan to a smooth stop during city driving with nothing more than a lift off the throttle.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 580

The vehicle’s speakers which play sounds using the Burmester 3D sound system. Mercedes-Benz

Considering the weight, the vehicle’s vault-like construction doesn’t hamper it in most corners, with four-wheel steering helping to place the heavy sedan with relative sprightliness. Only when pushed hard does the car’s bulk reveal itself, especially the dual-motor version, which carries an extra 131kg over the front axle. The trade-off comes when tackling bumps and potholes, which the EQS handles with a grace that complements its whisper-quiet ride. The estimated range, in excess of 643km, promises to at least match the competition.

If this model proves anything, it’s that legacy carmakers, long advancing internal-combustion power trains, can bring a sense of gravitas to the electrification game that more recent players often miss or simply can’t execute. While not the first to market, the Mercedes-Benz EQS is a formidable counterpunch to the new kids on the block.

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