The new Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan has received plenty of kudos — albeit with a few complaints, as well. Now, the German luxury manufacturer hopes to introduce a new benchmark in the emerging market for premium battery-electric vehicles.
The new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+ adds more power, improved handling and even more highline features when compared to the initial Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and EQS 580 4Matic models. So, heading off to Palm Springs to get a day behind the wheel of AMG’s first all-electric sedan, several questions popped into my mind: Does it really take the EQS to a new level of performance? And is it a viable competitor to the Tesla Model S, the king of the premium EV sedan segment?
The 2022 Mercedes-EQS is the German automaker’s first long-range battery-electric vehicle to reach U.S. showrooms — with an assortment of BEVs to follow. Strongly influenced by the 2019 Vision EQS concept car, it’s the all-electric alternative to the familiar Mercedes-Benz S-Class line. The AMG 53 4Matic+ is the requisite performance upgrade.
Like the more mainstream Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and EQS 580 4Matic models, the AMG edition features a distinctive, if controversial, “one-bow” exterior design language, and a sci-fi-like interior anchored by Mercedes’ new 56-inch hyperscreen. Of course, it retains classic luxury features, such as its lavishly executed heated, cooled and massaging seats — upgrading them in typical AMG style.
As with any AMG model, however, the emphasis is on performance, and the EQS 53 certainly comes through with two powertrain packages pumping out as much as 761 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. And, with electric motors hitting peak torque the moment they start spinning, the AMG edition delivers a truly neck-snapping launch experience while maintaining power well into extra-legal speeds.
To get a sense of what it’s like to drive the AMG EQS, I headed to Palm Springs, settling into the plush, but supportive, driver’s seat for a long day running through the San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains before wrapping up at LAX.
As with virtually all of the latest BEVs, the EQS rides on Mercedes’ entirely new EVA2 platform. It’s a skateboard-like architecture housing batteries and motors below the load floor — an approach that has numerous advantages, including more interior space, as well as improved handling.
Like the Vision EQS concept, the battery sedan adopts a radically different design language Mercedes calls “one-bow.” With only subtle deviation, a single, curved line flows over the top of the vehicle from bumper to bumper. With the 450+ and 580 4Matic models, Mercedes designers hit an industry record low coefficient of drag. With the AMG model, the Cd climbs slightly, from 0.20 to 0.23.
Like most new BEVs, there’s no need for air under the hood, so the traditional grille has been replaced by a solid fascia highlighted by dozens of small, backlit Mercedes tri-stars surrounding a large version of the brand logo. EVs have no need to push air under the hood, but they do have to cool their batteries and motors — and that’s especially true of a performance model like the AMG EQS.
It features larger air intakes below the front bumper, both for cooling and creating an air curtain around the larger front rubber. The AMG EQS is available with three different designs and a choice of 21- or 22-inch wheels and tires. The performance model also features an A-wing up front, a large rear diffuser and a six-fin diffuser under the back bumper.
As with the two base models, the Hyperscreen clearly dominates the interior design of the AMG EQS. Measuring nearly five feet in width, and stretching from pillar to pillar, it’s actually a single sheet of glass overlaying three individual videoscreens. The 12.3-inch gauge cluster can be reconfigured in numerous ways, including an AMG-exclusive mode that emphasizes instantaneous performance and battery data.
The infotainment screen measures 17.7 inches and there’s a third screen for the shotgun passenger that can be used to watch videos or duplicate information available on the center screen. Actually, you can technically add another screen, a head-up display, or HUD, that uses augmented reality to enhance the onboard navigation system.
Once you get past the Hyperscreen’s sheer, visual dominance you discover more classic Mercedes details worthy of an S-Class alternative. The familiar, turbine-style air vents are relegated to the corners of the IP, with thin horizontal louvers doing most of the work of climate control system.
The plush diamond-stitched seats in the EQS 580 are upgraded with unique AMG covers and embossed logos. The sport seat design is still quite comfortable but adds the bolstering you’d want during aggressive cornering maneuvers.
The one-bow design of the EQS does create some compromises. To ensure useful headroom for front and rear passengers, the cabin is a bit more cramped than a conventional S-Class and there’s not as much rear headroom as in the classic flagship sedan — though the electric model also gains a cavernous trunk.
As with the exterior design, there are some controversial details in the layout EQS. Most notable is the oddly high position of the digital gauge cluster and steering wheel. The layout cuts into your line of sight, especially with the way the curved roof flows into the steeply raked windshield.
The EQS 450+ relies on a single, rear-mounted electric motor to produce 329 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The twin motors in the EQS 580 takes that to 516 hp and 611 lb-ft.
The Mercedes-AMG EQS takes things into an entirely different realm. Under normal conditions, it will hammer out 658 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque. But the standard AMG Dynamic Plus package kicks in a temporary boost, jumping to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft, when you’re in Race Start mode.
To answer the obvious question: No. Even then, the AMG EQS can’t match the roughly 2-second 0-60 launch claimed by Tesla for its Model S Plaid — under carefully controlled conditions. But, at 3.4 seconds under more normal situations, AMG has absolutely nothing to apologize for. Top speed jumps 25 mph to 155 mph.
With the Mercedes-Benz EQS models, the sedan’s 108 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack will deliver up to an EPA-estimated range of 350 miles. The AMG edition cuts that to 277 miles per charge — but you can expect to see that drop substantially if you’re constantly hammering the throttle.
The battery pack can get a “top off” of 180 additional miles in as little as 19 minutes, Mercedes claims, when hooked to a public quick charger. The system can use some of the newest 200-kilowatt chargers for maximum benefit. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charger, a motorist can go from drained to fully charged in a bit more than 11 hours.
Safety and Technology
The Hyperscreen dominates the design of the EQS and controls virtually all vehicle functions, whether using the center and passenger touchscreens or interacting with the MBUX voice assistant. Say, “Hey, Mercedes,” and it will do everything from setting a destination into the navigation system to changing radio stations. In fact, it’s hard to come up with any vehicle functions you can’t control by voice.
The EQS features smartphone-style over-the-air capabilities that can deliver software updates without the driver’s involvement. During my drive of the AMG model I already noticed some minor tweaks to the layout of the navigation display making it easier to read.
All of the screens are reprogrammable and that’s especially useful with the digital gauge cluster and head-up display. The HUD image appears to float about 30 feet ahead of the sedan, making it easy to read, especially for those with glasses. The augmented reality system introduces arrows onto the display that point to where you’ll be turning when the onboard navigation system is active. For much of the drive I stuck with the AMG performance mode, however, keeping an eye on instant changes in power and performance.
While battery cars aren’t entirely silent, they are significantly quieter than vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines. You can enjoy the lack of noise or opt for one of three “soundscapes,” “depending upon the emotions of the moment,” said lead sound engineer Thomas Kuppers. In the AMG edition, Mercedes added two additional “Sound Experiences” playing inside and out. The “Performance” option does a reasonable job, though you won’t confuse it with a classic AMG V-8.
As you’d expect from Mercedes, the EQS is loaded with advanced driver assistance systems designed to prevent dings in a parking lot and crashes on the highway. That includes the usual ADAS tech, like forward collision warning with pedestrian and bicycle detection and auto braking. Add more advanced features including Active Stop-and-Go Assist and Highway Sign Recognition.
For those who may have experienced a prior-generation EV, like the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus EV, the latest crop of battery cars will be a real revelation. Surprisingly, that’s all the more true if you’re into performance. Electric motors reach maximum torque the moment they start spinning, so a foot-to-the-floor launch is a truly invigorating experience. And, with a single-gear transmission, power doesn’t ease off until you’re approaching triple digits.
One of my favorite features on today’s EV is the ability to go “1-Pedal.” Think of it like downshifting a manual transmission several gears. You can still run at whatever speed you want in this mode, but ease back on the throttle and the EQS will slow markedly — and even come to a complete stop at a light or in stop-and-go freeway traffic. It is particularly effective when you’re on a tight mountain roadway where you’d otherwise constantly be jumping from throttle to brake and back again.
When you’re driving a long-range EV with a battery pack the size of the EQS’s, there’s no way to dismiss the vehicle’s heft. Mercedes hasn’t released the curb weight of the AMG model, but the EQS 580 is more than 1,000 pounds heavier than a comparable S-Class sedan. The good news is that, by mounting the pack and motors below the load floor, the sedan’s center of gravity actually is lower than that of an S-Class. And that helps make for an unexpectedly nimble ride.
The electric sedan handled my constantly winding mountain route with aplomb. It was easy to toss it through tight corners, my confidence building as I grew more familiar with both the 1-Pedal system, the AMG’s air suspension and electronically adjustable damping, as well as the smart AWD system. The 4Matic technology is capable of reading road conditions and driver input, and then moving torque where needed, up to 10,000 times a second.
While I can find a few things to gripe about with the new EQS line-up — notably the too-high instrument cluster and steering wheel — there’s also plenty to like. And, with the AMG EQS, to love. The third model adds a level of power and handling that will help set a benchmark in the fast-growing performance EV segment. While it may not be as quick as a Model S Plaid off the line, I’d much rather be driving the AMG EQS on track or when it comes to any road with a fair amount of tight curves.
At a starting price of $102,310 — plus $1,050 in delivery fees — for the 450+, the EQS line-up doesn’t fall into the “affordable electric” category, but it offers a lot for the money. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic climbs to $119,110, with a fully loaded “Pinnacle” package jumping to $125,310. While Mercedes isn’t saying where the AMG EQS will come in, it’s hard to imagine it starting at much less than $150,000.
Look for the AMG package to reach U.S. showrooms by “early 2022,” the automaker says.
2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS — Frequently Asked Questions
How much will the Mercedes-AMG EQS cost?
Final numbers won’t be released until shortly before the performance model’s launch in “early 2022,” but expect it to come in close to or above $150,000. The current Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 model tops out at $125,310 with its fully loaded “Pinnacle” package.
How fast is the Mercedes EQS?
The single-motor Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ takes 5.9 seconds to hit 60, the twin-motor EQS cutting that to 4.1 seconds. Top speed for both is electronically limited to 130 mph. The Mercedes-AMG EQS can hit 60 in 3.4 seconds and tops out at 155 mph.
What does the “EQ” stand for?
Mercedes is launching a broad sub-brand of all-electric EQ models, the name a play on “IQ,” the name representing vehicles with “emotional intelligence.”