It’s not often you see a car maker’s flagship sunk by friendly fire. But that’s exactly what’s happening at Mercedes.
For decades the big S-Class sedan has been the company’s leader for comfort, quietness, luxury and safety, almost always first with every kind of advanced technology the company develops.
And it’s about to be blown out of the water by the new EQS, the electric-powered S-Class equivalent that wears the badge of the company’s EV-only sub-brand, Mercedes-EQ.
The EQS beats the similar-size S-Class for smoothness and silence. It has a more beautiful interior, and is all-round better to drive.
Even though it’s an EV, the driving range of the EQS is better than many an internal-combustion engine car. Although recharging is slower than refuelling, when connected to a powerful DC fast charger the EQS will be able to add 300km of driving range in just 15 minutes.
Finally – and this is the killer blow – Mercedes-Benz says the EQS line-up will be priced similarly to equivalent S-Class models. There should be no price penalty, in other words, for choosing the electric luxury limo instead of the fuel burner.
Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced Stuttgart factory is ramping up to full-scale production of the EQS. Deliveries to customers in Germany and the rest of Europe begin in September this year and it’s scheduled to arrive in Australia around March or April next year.
Though the line-up is sure to grow before the car goes on sale here, the first variants off the assembly line are the EQS450+ and the EQS580.
Wearing 19-inch aero wheels the single-motor 450+ has driving range of 780km, measured according to the realistic WLTP standard. Even with larger wheels, it’s a 700km-plus car. The official WLTP range for the more powerful and faster dual-motor 580 isn’t much less; 676km.
Both have the same 108kWh lithium-ion battery. Mercedes has said it will also produce variants of the EQS with a smaller 90kWh battery sometime in the future.
Whatever the size of its battery pack, the aerodynamic shape of the EQS means it drives further on every kWh. No other car in production today slices through the air better than this Mercedes-EQ with its world record 0.20 drag coefficient.
Behind the wheel you can sense this is a slippery car. With regenerative braking deactivated – all it takes is a tap on one of the paddles on the steering wheel – the EQS just rolls and rolls when the accelerator pedal is released. That’s on the flat; if the road is even slightly downhill it gathers speed.
The aero profile of the EQS made it natural to give the car a hatch instead of a boot lid. There’s a huge cargo compartment beneath it. The one obvious negative of the car’s aerodynamic side profile is the way it squeezes rear-seat head room. Although roomy enough, the rear of the EQS lacks the sheer sprawling spaciousness of an S-Class.
The dual-motor EQS580 is all-wheel drive, and it launches from standstill with effortless urgency. It’s a fraction faster than the S580 with its hybrid-boosted turbo six-cylinder engine.
The EQS450+, with a single motor driving only the rear wheels, takes almost two seconds longer to reach 100km/h from standstill, but once rolling it has the lively feel typical of EVs.
The EQS, despite its size and weight, is a good drive. It’s one of these cars that seems smaller from the driver’s seat than it does from the outside. Its agility is increased by a standard rear-wheel steering system that makes the EQS corner like a much shorter car.
But the best thing about being inside the EQS is the Hyperscreen. This single piece of slightly curved glass is the entire instrument panel. It houses up to three displays, including the large and luscious centre touchscreen and optional passenger-side display.
It’s literally stunning to look at … and simple to use. While the Hyperscreen is the centrepiece, the entire cabin of the EQS is elegantly designed. This is a better interior than the S-Class, both for beauty and wow-factor.
As well as luxury and loveliness, the EQS is equipped, like the S-Class, with the Mercedes’ latest and most advanced driver assistance and safety tech. It has auto emergency braking that works going forward and backwards, adaptive cruise with predictive speed limit regulation, steering, lane-keeping and lane-change assist systems, and much more.
With the arrival of the EQS still many months away, Mercedes-Benz Australia is yet to announce the local model line-up and their prices. But the new S450 (from $240,000) and S580 ($330,000) provide some guidance of what to expect. Similar prices are promised for equivalent versions of the EQS, remember.
Big money, and a big decision for the wealthy few able to spend so much. S-Class now, or wait for the better big Mercedes called EQS?
MERCEDES-EQ EQS450+ VITALS
Price: $250,000 (est)
Motor: single synchronous six-phase permanent magnet electric motor; 245kW/568Nm
Transmission: single-speed; RWD
Safety: auto emergency braking (inc. reversing), active brake assist with cross-traffic function, active blind-spot assist with exit warning function, active steering assist, active lane-keeping assist, active lane-change assist, evasive steering assist, active emergency-stop assist, driver drowsiness detection and warning, active cruise control with predictive speed-limit regulation, and more.
Driving range: 780km
Energy consumption: 15.8-19.8kWh/100km (WLTP)
0-100km/h: 6.2 secs