2022 Mercedes EQS review: prices, specs and release date
The Mercedes EQS is a new fully electric luxury saloon of S-Class proportions, and we've driven a late prototype on UK roads...
On sale Late 2021 | Price from £80,000 (est)
It’s not just prospective buyers of the all-new Mercedes EQS who should be interested in reading this review, but rather every prospective Mercedes buyer for the next decade or more. The EQS is at the vanguard of the firm’s future as it embarks on fulfilling its pledge to sell only electric cars where market conditions allow from 2030.
The arrival of a new S-badged Mercedes has long kickstarted a process of tumbling dazzling new technology down from the flagship model throughout the company's entire model line-up in ensuing years – and so it will here. The all-new technical package that makes up the EQS has been designed to prove Mercedes is more than capable of building electric cars every bit as good as those from Tesla, as well as upcoming models from traditional rivals including Audi, BMW and Porsche.
As such, it’s fair to bill the EQS as Mercedes’ first ‘all-in’ electric car. While the EQA, EQB, EQC and EQV are fully electrified, they sit on modified underpinnings of petrol and diesel-engined models that have been compromised to achieve their zero-emissions goals. The EQS, however, is different: there are no compromises and, therefore, no excuses if there are any shortcomings.
We drive it here in a very late prototype form ahead of full UK pricing and technical specifications being revealed next month. It features some spec nuances that won’t be available when it does go on sale, including the challenging grille design featuring multiple Mercedes three-pointed stars and the leather option you can see on the seats.
What's it like to drive?
The positives of battery-powered motoring are well known, from the instant torque of an electric motor giving rapid acceleration, delivered smoothly and continuously through often a single gear, through to the easy-to-learn energy regeneration, possible simply by lifting off the accelerator and without the need to press a pedal.
What’s striking is not that the EQS does all those things, but just how well it does them. Even in the lower-powered 450+ model we drove (a more powerful twin-motor version will also be offered), acceleration is surprisingly quick, yet the driving experience is super-relaxed. On a relatively straight A-road or motorway, if you’re prepared to rely on all of the electronic gadgetry, you need hardly do anything beyond keeping an eye on your surroundings and your hands on the wheel. The car holds you in your lane and almost effortlessly maintains a gap to the traffic around you.
Otherwise, the EQS is dynamically enticing. The steering is precise, giving you absolute confidence in placing the car despite its significant proportions, and it's impressively composed when changing lane at higher speeds. If you – or your passengers – want to get somewhere in a hurry, there's plenty of grip and little body lean.
The near 2.5-tonne weight of the EQS can’t be completely disguised, though. A trick rear-wheel steering system improves agility at low speeds, but through faster bends the nose isn't quite so obedient. Over bumpier road surfaces, undulations and impacts are isolated swiftly, but can still be felt in a way they wouldn't in an S-Class. The large wheels of our test car probably didn't help – it was on 21in alloys, with 19 to 22in available. Even so, the ride is excellent on less challenging roads.
The official range is a mighty 484 miles, helped by what Mercedes claims is the most aerodynamic body shape of any production car ever made, as well as the recuperative braking system harvesting energy back at a surprisingly effective rate. Even the heavily revised Tesla Model S, due to arrive on our shores in 2022, can't get close, with its claimed maximum range of 405 miles.
If that’s not enough for you, the fastest chargers can – in best-case conditions – take the EQS's 108kWh battery from 10-80% in around 30 minutes, while the more widely available 50kW units can do the same in about 1.5 hours. Suffice to say, the range will limit very few journeys as a result.
What's it like inside?
Wow. Whatever thoughts, good, bad or in between, are in your head as you soak in some of the details from these photographs, it’s impossible not to have to wind your eyes back in after you walk up to the EQS, the driver’s door pops open automatically as it senses your approach (and shuts as you hit the brake pedal), and get comfy in one of its seats.
Where much of the interior is about beautifully executed but traditional luxury, Mercedes has gone to town with the scarcely believable Hyperscreen, an option (around £8000) which runs 141cm from side to side and covers nearly a quarter of a metre squared of the dashboard, all the while looking like it has been delivered from a different century.
Jaw-dropping it certainly is. It’s surprisingly effective too, with some caveats around its ease of use on the move and the speed with which greasy fingerprints undermine some of its space-age appeal. Based on our relatively brief run, it’s better, where possible, to use Mercedes’ impressive voice control to avoid being distracted by scanning for the right functions or leaving your mark on the screen. Even on the gloomy day we tested the EQS, there were some distracting reflections as well.
Those who don’t option the Hyperscreen still get two large but separate screens through which to view and control many of the car's functions. If that sounds a bit overwhelming, it’s worth mentioning the highly effective head-up display which features so-called 'augmented reality' sat-nav instructions, plus speed and other information, all beamed ahead of the driver on to the windscreen and doing much to ensure you can keep your eyes on the road while everything is going on around you.
Indeed, perhaps the greatest achievement of the EQS is that, after a short period inside it, it's not the Hyperscreen that dominates your thoughts – it's the extraordinary all-round comfort and refinement. The EQS sets new benchmarks for silent wafting, with only subtle wind noise at higher speeds making any real impact on your ears. That, coupled with Mercedes’ top-end seats, pillow cushions to rest your head on and other features make for a supremely comfortable journey.
It helps, too, that a tape measure can’t do justice to just how much space there is inside. It’s better just to consider it enough for all but the very outer percentile of humans to get cosy, wherever they sit. The boot has appropriate dimensions for even a substantial airport run, with 610 litres available with the rear seats up and up to 1770 with them down. In other words, significantly more than an S-Class.
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