– Vancouver Island, Canada
The tiny town of Tofino on the north end of Vancouver Island is home to just 2,500 people and is best accessible by seaplane. Its biggest claim to fame is that they filmed a Twilight movie here, the second one. But the picturesque landscapes of Pacific Rim National Park and the gorgeous rocky coasts also make it a hotspot for yuppies looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
At least future Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV owners who invade the island can take solace in the fact that their ostentatious SUVs won't ruin the air quality for the natural wildlife. As the first all-electric Maybach, the EQS has all the power, poise, and elegance you expect of the double-M brand, but without the nasty emissions.
|Quick Specs||2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV|
|Motor||Dual Permanently Excited Synchronous|
|Output||649 Horsepower / 700 Pound-Feet|
|Range||300 Miles (est.)|
|Base Price||$200,000 (est.)|
|On-Sale Date||Fall 2023|
In true Maybach fashion of gussying up every Benz exterior, the EQS' controversial look gets an uptick in refinement that makes some of its otherwise uncouth lines a bit easier to tolerate. A three-pointed star ornament (rare these days) sits atop the clamshell hood, vertical pin striping adorns the faux grille, and hidden Maybach logos in the headlight housings lend an extra air of elegance to the front fascia. Designers even went so far as to apply the Maybach-specific font to all the exterior badges.
Less subtle is the 950 or so – I counted – double-M logos that litter the exterior of the Night Series model. The faux vents, wheels, C-pillar, etc. It's mostly optional, thankfully, and I opted for a more traditional two-tone, blue-and-silver look for this test with classic monoblock wheels – the best spec of the bunch.
A 107.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack powers two motors, the same here as on the top-end EQS Benz, but an extra jolt gives the Maybach 649 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. That's a pretty significant improvement of 113 hp and 67 lb-ft over the EQS 580 SUV.
Maybach hasn't announced range figures yet, but the readout on the gauge cluster shows 494 kilometers at 98 percent as I set off – so over 300 miles in the US aren't out of the realm of possibility. And with a DC fast charging rate of 200 kilowatts (matching the standard EQS SUV), refilling to 80 percent should take no longer than 30 minutes.
While most people expect to be driven in a Maybach rather than drive one themselves (more on that later), the head of Mercedes-Maybach Daniel Lescow emphasizes that "It's not a car for chauffeur driving only." It certainly isn't.
Along the twisty mountain roads that run through Pacific Rim National Park, the Maybach badge barely feels like a hit to dynamic driving. The hulking EQS hustles down long straights with its extra torquey powertrain, which yields a kind of ridiculous 0-60 time (especially for a vehicle this large) of 4.1 seconds.
The steering is responsive and has excellent chattiness throughout, which allows for quick flicks into corners, while the standard air suspension with adaptive damping keeps the hulking SUV settled. Maybach doesn’t list an official curb weight for its EQS SUV; it’s likely 6,500 pounds when comparing it to the standard Benz version. But the suspension is so soft and well-sorted that it quashes more body roll than you'd expect of a vehicle this large. Compared to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the EQS feels like a 911, even if it doesn’t have a gas engine.
In Comfort mode, the Maybach cruises like a magic carpet over the bumpy, bruised roads on my way north to Tofino. Some of the bigger bumps expose that hefty curb weight as it bounds upward, but that's the only hit to the otherwise stellar suspension setup.
It's an excellent SUV to drive and by far one of the sportiest options among high-end SUVs. But of course, you still want – nay, need to be driven in the back seat.
Back Seat Driver
Like the Maybach GLS, the EQS SUV ditches its third row for a pair of high-end recliners instead. And even before you place your rump, you can tell how supple the leather is by looking at it. The sustainably processed cowhide bulges out of the creases between the diamond-quilted stitching and bleeds onto the door panels to create a wraparound effect in the rear seats. Now that is luxury.
Maybach-branded pillows on the headrests coddle your cranium once you sink into the second row, and a full recline function shoves the front passenger seat as far forward as possible for maximum stretch out-ability. Even at 6 feet tall, I'm able to fully recline. My shoes just barely touch the creamy white leather on the back side of the front seat (which is bound to get filthy).
A custom “Sandalwood” scent wafts throughout the cabin giving out distant campfire vibes, and adjustable ambient lighting surrounds you on all sides. A gloss black center “tunnel” with pinstriping splits the rear seats down the middle with hidden amenities like champagne flutes, fold-out tables, and even a mini-fridge for keeping said champagne cool.
All four doors can close automatically, but there's no physical button to do so like on a comparable Bentley or Rolls-Royce. You either have to access the Mercedes-Benz app (why?) or dig into one of the many in-car touchscreens, which is frustrating. At least there are a few screens to choose from, six of them to be exact.
The 17.7-inch Mercedes Hyperscreen sits dead center in the front of the vehicle, flanked by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster on the left side and another 12.3-inch touchscreen on the passenger side. Back seat riders also have two 11.6-inch touchscreens on each of the front seat backs and a removable Samsung tablet in the center console.
Poke at any of the three screens in the rear seat to access a laundry list of massage, heating, and cooling functions; hell, there's even a thigh massage that gently pulses the backside of your legs. The new Burmester 4D audio even acts as a sort of massage, vibrating the bass from the music into your butt and back with an adjustable scale ranging from 1-10. Pump it up to 10 and put on Aqua's "Barbie Girl" for best results.
Frankly, I haven't been this comfy in a back seat since the Bentayga EWB (also in Vancouver), which feels like the closest competitor to the Maybach in terms of premium rear seating – minus the electric powertrain. Not even the back seats in the Cullinan have this many features. And the coffin-like sound deadening puts the EQS close to Rolls-Royce status.
Not even the back seats in the Cullinan have this many features.
But what I noticed here compared to, say, the Bentayga, is that the electric powertrain and the recuperation function – active in Normal mode when Mercedes shuttled me around – made for a less appealing rear seat experience than in a gas car. Let me explain.
As someone extremely sensitive to car sickness, I could feel the immediate tugging and slowing of the electric powertrain in my gut as opposed to the softer throttle responses from a gas car. Maybach did dull the throttle here, in fact, but not enough to make the instant torque response disappear entirely. Stop-and-go movements still feel too abrupt for backseat riders, especially adult children like myself prone to belly aches. More serious adults should have no problem riding in the rear seat, though.
With an estimated starting price of $200,000, the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is well worthy of its near-quarter-of-a-million-dollar asking price. The Bentayga EWB is $226,900 and the Cullinan starts at around $345,000. Both of those pack gas engines, however. A sportier electrified alternative, like the $159,995 BMW XM, offers some comparable comfort at a fraction of the price, but it doesn't even come close to the Maybach when it comes to the rear seats.
Ultimately, the advantage this Maybach brings is that it is fully electric. It's like having your cake and eating it too; all the niceties you need from the brand minus the fume-emitting powertrain. Maybach is embracing its all-electric future, and the EQS SUV is the first in what should be a long line of EV excellence.
2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV