2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ Second Drive: Cruisin’ USA10/08/2021
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS-Class sedan is a critical canary in the coalmine. This electric car is the flagship of the Mercedes-EQ brand, the new division of Mercedes dedicated to electric vehicles. It is the first cannon shot, the one that clears the path for the global electric cars and SUVs to come, from a small Mercedes EQA subcompact SUV to an electric version of the iconic Mercedes G-wagon. On a macro level the EQS represents a huge bet on the future of electrification and no one will monitor its success more closely than Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius himself. On a micro level the EQS has the Tesla Model S and newcomer Lucid Air squarely in its sights.
The EQS is arguably the single most-important vehicle in the last decade and reimagines the future of mobility, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA Dimitris Psillakis said, though he might be biased.
We got our first chance to slide behind the wheel of the 2022 Mercedes EQS450+ and ESQ580 in Switzerland. Now we get to drive the U.S.-spec cars back home, in the San Francisco Bay area which is home to the kind of innovation these EVs represent, as well as the folks with the money and wherewithal to spend it on something so luxurious and electric.
With so much power at the ready, excellent rear steering and the serenity of air suspension, the EQS offered a chance to sit back with your head nestled in the cushion on the headrest and enjoy the scenery. And while the EQS has a lot of cool tech to offer, including the massive 56-inch tri-display hyperscreen that spans the dash, this first foray is not perfect.
Face and Shape of Mercedes EQS Take Startling Turn
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the shape and look. Mercedes sedans, especially large flagships, are notable for long hoods and traditional proportions. The EQS family goes in a different direction, adopting a cab-forward-appearing design, which looks a bit blob-ish with its short hood and overhang, and high cowl. The grille has been replaced with the new face of Mercedes EVs that revolves around a solid panel with a three-pointed star pattern and, combined with the headlights, is known as the “EQ Mask.”
The look dates back to the “one bow” design of the 2015 F 015 autonomous concept with a low hood pushing down to the ground, says Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America’s vice president of design Sylvain Wehnert. Achieving the desired sleek and sporty lines results in a smaller rear window, as well as the challenge of looking over the high and deep dashboard—strangely, you don’t actually sit that far forward, but rather set back as in an S-Class.
If that is the progressive luxury look the new brand wanted to adopt to set it apart from the conventional classically proportioned vehicles with internal combustion engines, then mission accomplished. Wehnert said he strived for the unexpected, an X factor, with this design zigzag. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is available for those who want conventional elegance.
Another whiff? Not having an engine should free up under-hood real estate—which many other EVs make into a frunk, or front storage area. Sadly, the EQS does not do this. The vacated space has been filled with the HEPA filter for air quality in the cabin and is bolted shut; the car relies on the ample 63 cu ft of cargo space when you lift the rear hatch. None of the forthcoming EVs on the EVA platform will have frunks either.
2022 Mercedes EQS First on New EVA Platform
The EQS rides on the new EVA2 architecture; Mercedes’ first purpose-built EV platform. It uses a skateboard-style chassis full of batteries, which are responsible for that surprisingly tall body height and the high-seating position for rear seat passengers. The car launches in North America with a 107.8-kwh battery; other markets have a smaller 90 kwh battery but there are no plans to offer it in the U.S.
“Base” EQS450+ models, the focus of this review, are rear-wheel drive—the single motor is in back. It is rated at 329 hp and 419 lb-ft of torque, which Mercedes says will get it from 0-60 mph in estimated 5.9 seconds. Power here is more than adequate for highway passing and spirited driving and is well-mannered in its delivery.
The EQS580 4Matic has standard all-wheel drive courtesy of a second motor mounted up front. The 580 is estimated to hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds with its combined 516 hp and 631 lb-ft of torque. This is the one than can throw you back into that head cushion when you stomp on the pedal.
We can only imagine the endorphins that will be released early in 2022 by the Mercedes-AMG EQS with 649 hp and 725 lb-ft of torque to tap.
2022 Mercedes EQS Range Revealed!
The EQS450+ has an EPA-rated range of 350 miles from a single charge. The EQS580 is slightly less at 340 miles, falling short of the Model S’ 396-405 miles of range.
The EQS is a slippery one, with a drag coefficient of 0.20. The impressive figure was achieved by a number of factors: the shape, smooth underbody, clean front, aerodynamic wheels, spoilers, and power-retracting door handles. We hope the door handle contribution is worth it because the mechanism takes some getting used to and will frustrate owners if they fail to pop out.
An option allows you to program the driver door to open automatically as you approach and close when you step on the brake or use a hand gesture. Powered doors can be operated from the center screen or by using the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant. If you must close the door manually, there is no real handle on the inside to pull once seated, you must grab the full width of the armrest.
The EQS rides on a standard air suspension with electronically adaptive dampers, much like the S-Class. And here is where the electric sofa analogy comes to life. The ride is cushiony smooth in a cabin uncommonly quiet. And this sofa comes with pillows on all the headrests. Sit back, crank the Burmester stereo with 15 speakers, turn on the hot stone massage, enable the driver assists, and float down the road with ease.
Steering and Braking: Highs and Lows
Rear steering is also standard, and it is brilliant in its precision and ability to point and shoot this car with unbelievable alacrity. The rear wheels can turn up to 10 degrees to improve handling. Rear wheels steer in the opposite direction from the fronts to get the car out of tight spots and reduces the turning circle to that of a compact car at 35.8 feet. At higher speeds the rear wheels move in unison with the fronts for a stabilizing effect.
Braking is a challenge with electric vehicles because they have regenerative as well as conventional braking. The EQS has a moving brake, meaning the pedal goes through part of the stroke to match the amount of braking already happening through regen. Sounds genius: The pedal goes into position where it would usually be for manual braking, making it primed and ready for additional mechanical braking.
In the EQS you can set the level of regen by toggling either of the paddles on the steering wheel to choose “normal recuperation,” “increased recuperation,” and “intelligent recuperation,” which is an auto mode that acts like adaptive cruise, slowing automatically in response to cars or other objects in front of it, or for a curve or a lower speed limit, bringing the car to a full stop if necessary.
In the EQS, when recuperation is at the most aggressive setting, the brake pedal sinks deeper in the footwell and the extra travel can be off-putting (where’d I leave that brake pedal!?) and make the brakes feel spongy.
And at times the combination of acceleration and regen in the auto mode can create a ride where it feels like the vehicle is surging and falling back with the different inputs.
The brakes ultimately work well on the EQS, it just doesn’t feel that way. We suspect there will be a learning curve to get drivers to adapt to and trust a mushy pedal.
Let Mercedes Do the Driving
The 2022 EQS has all the latest safety tech including Level 2 semi-automated driving aids which proved their worth in a long stretch of stop and go traffic where there was no need to touch the steering wheel or pedals to creep ahead by inches at a time.
For lane-keep assist you have to go to the touchscreen to turn it on, but after that it is easily activated, alongside adaptive cruise, from a button on the steering wheel. Tap the turn signal and the car will make a lane change for you, in either direction. It worked seamlessly, but if you tap the stalk too hard, you have to turn off the blinker manually after the lane change is complete.
Climb Inside and Prepare to be Wowed
The 2022 EQS450+ we drove stickered for $117,460 and had a lovely gray interior with a mix of Alcantara, clamshell design perforated leather seats, a gray wood trim and strips of copper elegantly hiding the air vents, as well as copper stitching. The $127,645 EQS580 we sampled mixed brown Alcantara with cream leather seats and the contrast was stunning. There is clever and almost hidden open storage under the center console, with two of the cabin’s 10(!) USB-C ports.
The wow factor is the 56-inch wide Hyperscreen, a concave glass panel that stretches the width of the dashboard and has three integrated OLED screens including the 17.7 -inch infotainment touchscreen. The screen in front of the passenger can play movies in Europe, Taiwan, and a few other countries (with sound through headphones) if the seat bottom and seatbelt confirm there is an additional occupant. The screen fades out if an eye-monitoring camera detects the driver sneaking a peak. This feature is not certified for use in the U.S. yet so it is merely a repeat of the central touchscreen. The Hyperscreen is standard on the 580 and a $7,200 option on the 450+.
The standard dashboard on the 450+ is similar to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with a center screen that rises up the dash, like a ramp. It is a less-elegant take on a similar screen in the Jeep Grand Cherokee L that cascades down from the dash. The EQS has a 12.3-inch instrument cluster. On the standard model, there is no screen in front of the passenger—the dash is blank trim.
Setting the mood is ambient lighting, a 15-speaker Burmester audio system, and 10 massage programs. The car will use light and temperature to keep the driver alert and each EQS has a fragrance system built into the ventilation system with a unique scent.
All screens run the latest MBUX software with the “Hey Mercedes” digital assistant and artificial intelligence technology that learns the driver’s tastes and habits, setting controls, offering information, pulling up calendars, setting your favorite massage to activate on your way home from the gym.
Charging Your Mercedes EQS
Mercedes customers will have access to Electrify America’s 120,000 charge points in the U.S. The navigation system factors in everything from real-time traffic to topography, weather, and driving style when planning and adjusting your route to plan charging stops.
Software was designed to make it easy to plug in and walk away; billing will be handled automatically with a credit card on file. Additionally, buyers get 30 minutes of free charging for the first two years.
With a fast charger, the battery can go from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in 31 minutes. The EQS can add 186 miles of range in just 15 minutes; the Model S can add about 200 miles in the same time via a Tesla Supercharger.
How Much Does It Cost?
The 2022 Mercedes EQS450+ starts at $103,360 for the Premium trim with no Hyperscreen. The 2022 Mercedes EQS580 starts at $120,160 and can climb to $126,360 for the top Pinnacle trim of the 580.
Mercedes created the EQS to be the S-Class of electric vehicles and set the bar for more EVs to come. The technology is impressive, the power and rear-steering is top-notch and there are some high-end touches. But this first foray is more like the E-Class of EVs in our mind—which is certainly not a knock, but our first impression is the quibbles we have with the front end and the braking keep it from being the true benchmark Mercedes intended it to be.
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