The three-pointed star is going Tesla-hunting.
Nine years after the Tesla Model S first proved that electric vehicles can be stylish and desirable, Mercedes-Benz will enter the luxury EV game with the 2022 EQS. Arriving at US dealers this fall, the futuristic EQS will offer an estimated WLTP range of 770 kilometers (478 miles), beating out every other electric vehicle currently for sale on our shores. But like any Mercedes, the EQS doesn’t excel in merely one metric.
In addition to its headline-grabbing EV range, the big Benz also makes a bold styling statement, with a technologically advanced interior to match. Serving as the company’s electric flagship, the fullsize sedan also represents a new styling direction for the Mercedes-EQ family (with a record-breaking 0.20 drag coefficient). It’s also the first application of the so-called MBUX Hyperscreen, a massive glass dashboard incorporating three individual information displays – an instrument cluster, center infotainment center, and auxiliary passenger-side touchscreen.
The 2022 Mercedes EQS is available in two trims, both receiving energy from a 108.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. The base model will be the EQS 450+, which features a single electric motor on the rear axle for a total of 329 horsepower and 406 pound-feet (245 kilowatts and 550 newton-meters). The EQS 580 4MATIC, as its name suggests, is all-wheel drive thanks to a front electric motor. Total system output is 516 hp and 611 lb-ft (385 kW and 828 Nm), good for a 4.1-second sprint to 60 miles per hour.
Likely of more interest to EV owners is the EQS family’s range per charge. Mercedes-Benz says to expect 770 kilometers (or 478 miles) on the WLTP standard, where the Tesla Model S Long Range achieves 379 miles. The big battery helps to extend driving range between stops, but so does the Benz’s stellar aerodynamic efficiency. With a drag coefficient of 0.20, the Mercedes EQS is the most aerodynamic series-production vehicle ever sold. That’s a huge achievement, especially considering it doesn’t resort to wheel spats or winglets to glide through the air.
When it’s time to juice up, the EQS can recharge from 10 to 80 percent in 35 minutes via 110-kW DC fast charging, while a 240-volt household wallbox can do the deed in just over 11 hours – perfect for an off-peak overnight jolt. Mercedes-Benz will likely partner with a public charging provider before the EQS arrives in dealers, giving prospective owners a rival to Tesla’s well-integrated Supercharging network.
Designed For The Future
The styling of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS is a huge departure from other products from the company, a deliberate choice that establishes EQ products as something unique unto themselves. Since the big sedan is built on its own all-electric architecture free of the constraints of a traditional front-mounted engine, designers pushed the hoodline down and the windshield forward. Meanwhile an arched roofline and liftback – with rear quarter windows that look cribbed directly from the GLE Coupe – create what Mercedes calls a “one-bow” shape, generating from a body line above the front wheel arch and extending all the way to the tail of the EQS.
According to the company, “body creases have had their day at Mercedes-Benz,” so the EV gets a remarkably slick design. The clamshell hood wraps down to the wheels, while a shoulder bulge that runs the length of the sedan helps keep the body from looking slab-sided. A subtle crease on the rocker panel adds some visual interest, but otherwise, there aren’t too many body accents to detract from its “Progressive Luxury” design philosophy. That said, designers undid all their work with a distracting windshield washer fluid door on the front left fender, necessary since the hood remains fixed in place except when removed by Mercedes technicians.
Up front, a glossy black panel (don’t call it a grille) houses a large Mercedes badge, with tiny three-pointed stars engraved into the surfacing below. Three tiny LED accents on each headlight invoke the other Mercedes S-family vehicles (the S-Class sedan and GLS SUV), while a full-width LED strip on the leading edge of the hood connects the headlamps. The taillights get their own surprise-and-delight detailing as well, with a helix design that Mercedes says is inspired by the visible coils of an antique light bulb.
The one-box styling is jarring on such a posh vehicle, and we wonder if most consumers won’t associate the proportions with something like the 2001 Chrysler Concorde. However, the EQS’ imposing size, tapered greenhouse, muscular rear hips, and frameless door windows should help set it apart, both from other cab-forward designs and luxury EVs alike. We also appreciate that the company didn’t constrain itself to internal-combustion design conventions, using its electric vehicle platform to create a very large interior.
A Rolling Screening Room
Speaking of, the tech-forward cabin will probably be the EQS’ strongest trait in the eyes of consumers. Headlining the experience is the available MBUX Hyperscreen, a 56-inch-wide pane of curved glass that houses three individual OLED displays. Directly in front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while a 17.7-inch center touchscreen handles most infotainment duties. The passenger also gets their own 12.3-inch touchscreen, guarded from the driver’s prying (and distracted) eyes by a camera system that monitors distraction and deactivates that unit if it senses the driver glancing over too much.
Provided the captain keeps their eyes on the road, the co-pilot can use this secondary touchscreen to activate massage, heating, and ventilation for both the driver and front passenger, as well as adjust climate, ambient lighting, and audio settings. The passenger can also play their own music via Bluetooth earphones and find and suggest navigation to the driver.
It all sounds like information overload, but Mercedes sought to reduce that intimidation factor by building a “zero layer” into the MBUX infotainment system’s software. In this mode, a full-screen map appears on the center display, augmented by a fixed audio control on the bottom center and settings on the top left corner. Using artificial intelligence, the EQS learns more about the driver’s preferences and schedule, suggesting MBUX functions on small tiles overlaid on the map display. For example, if the driver regularly calls someone upon leaving the office, MBUX will suggest placing that call as soon as the EQS leaves the parking lot.
The zero layer should allow drivers who are less interested in technology features to merely climb aboard and start their journey, while simultaneously permitting the digitally savvy to customize the infotainment system of the EQS to their heart’s content. And for the true Luddites in the room, Mercedes will offer a more conventional single 12.8-inch, portrait-oriented center touchscreen on the EQS 450, paired to a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
The unusual form factor of the EQS has one obvious benefit: incredible interior space. Mercedes hasn’t published official measurements just yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the luxury EV were more spacious than an S-Class inside. Curiously, in spite of the EV’s absence of an engine or transmission, the dashboard is rather high, giving the front row a cozy feel – ditto the bridge-style center console with storage inside and underneath. On models equipped with the Hyperscreen, wood trim makes a rare appearance on the console storage cover, with beautiful leather, soft-touch plastic, and microfiber suede materials elsewhere.
The Hyperscreen and door handle nacelles “float” above the surfaces of the dash and door panels, with ambient accent lighting appearing around the rim. One of the more thoughtful design touches are the door panel cutouts for the Hyperscreen, allowing it to blend seamlessly around the front seat occupants. Rose-toned metal trim appears on the vents, screen surround, and door panels, a trendy touch that looks decidedly premium.
A rear bench seat is the only configuration available – no Maybach-style fixed center console here – but the EQS maintains many of its gas-powered sibling’s luxury features when equipped with the optional Executive Rear Seat package. So equipped, the bench seat’s armrest folds down to reveal a removable MBUX tablet, operating as a remote control for the standard twin 12.3-inch screens mounted on the front seatbacks. The package also bundles rapid heating and massage for the rear seats. While a four-seat configuration would likely feel more premium to Mercedes’ better-heeled customers, there’s really not much to complain about in the back of an EQS.
Under the powered rear hatch is a spacious luggage compartment, with 60/40 folding rear seats expanding capacity further. We’re waiting on final specs, but to the naked eye, there appears to be far more room in the cargo area than in any other luxury EV. That’s a good thing, as the EQS doesn’t have a frunk.
Like the new S-Class, the EQS places a heavy emphasis on well-integrated driver-assist and convenience technology. For one, MBUX Augmented Reality Navigation is standard, overlaying driving directions on a video of the road ahead in the center display. Like the S, the electric sedan also gets an optional AR head-up display, where the navigation prompts are projected onto the windshield into the driver’s field of view – a huge benefit for those as directionally challenged as your author.
Mercedes-Benz’s full suite of active driver-assistance technology is standard on the EQS, including Distronic adaptive cruise control, steering assistance with automated lane changes, and automatic emergency braking for forward, rear, and cross-traffic collisions. That means that if you’re about to execute a left turn before the road is clear, the EQS will intervene on your behalf to prevent a brutal T-bone. In the event of a collision, Pre-Safe Impulse Side technology jacks the EQS up by about 2.8 inches, ensuring more of the forces are distributed through the car’s frame instead of to the passenger cabin.
The big sedan can ease the stress of a long road trip with a Power Nap function while charging. If activated, Power Nap reclines the front seats, closes the window and panoramic sunroof shades, and plays soothing sounds to drown out distractions outside. After a predetermined amount of time, Power Nap gently rouses the passengers by activating ambient lighting and returning the seats to an upright position.
Another oddly prescient feature, given the modern world in which we live, is an optional HEPA filter and air quality sensor for both external and cabin air. The center screen’s Energizing Air Control function allows the driver to monitor the system status, including the difference in quality between the outside world and the Benz’s cabin. The filter also works against viruses and bacteria, as certified by the German research institute OFI.
Coming Soon To A Red Carpet Near You
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS will arrive at US dealerships later this year, with pricing and official EPA dimensions and EV range numbers announced sometime soon. However, Mercedes representatives wink-winked that we could expect the EQS to mirror the S-Class in terms of value – expect a starting price of about $110,000 for the EQS 450+ and $120,000 for the EQS 580. Fully loaded, we wouldn’t be surprised at the sight of a $150,000 EQS.
At those prices, the Mercedes EQS will battle the flagship Lucid Air Grand Touring ($131,500), Tesla Model S Plaid ($119,990), and several variants of the Porsche Taycan. However, each of those vehicles is available in a much cheaper configuration – the Taycan starts at $79,900, while Tesla asks $90 more than that for the Model S Long Range. The base Lucid Air Pure starts at $69,900, meanwhile.
Whether the EQS is worth the money depends on what you want from your EV. The badge imparts some front-row-at-the-valet panache, while its huge interior should make it attractive to eco-minded VIPs looking for a chauffeured experience. And there are some, your author included, who appreciate its decidedly unconventional, futuristic styling. We’ll be behind the wheel of the EQS soon enough, and we can’t wait to try Mercedes Benz’s brand of EV luxury.