What is it? 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic, electric, all-wheel-drive large luxury sedan.
Why should you consider it? Unique, modern luxury interior; comfort; 340-mile range.
How much will it cost? Base price $125,900, excluding $1,050 destination charge.
When can you buy it? On sale now.
A new Mercedes-Benz S-class is an event. That’s been true specifically since the world’s oldest automaker introduced the “S” designation for its top model in 1972, and more generally since Mercedes established itself as one of the pinnacle brands for automotive engineering and luxury in 1926.
A new S-class that doesn’t surprise you with some new feature, touch of luxury or elegance was unimaginable.
So it troubled me when the last couple of S-classes I tested evoked a mental shrug. “Meh. It’s fine. Nothing I didn’t expect.” They were just cars. The top Mercedes should be something more.
Had I grown jaded? I worry about that. I’m insanely lucky because for a living, I test new vehicles with amazing features, evaluate the latest technology and meet interesting people who generally like what they do for a living.
Had I lost the ability to say, “Wow?” Or had Mercedes, a trailblazer for more than a century, lost the capability create a car that surprised me?
Either would make me sad.
Then I pressed the start button in a 2022 EQS 580. Otherworldly lights softly illuminated smooth shapes wrapped in dreamy leather. Video screens bloomed across the breadth of the dashboard.
Sense of wonder? Check.
The EQS, the first electric version of Mercedes’ legendary S-class flagship, is full of surprises. It’s not perfect, but it’s undeniably special, enough so that I repeatedly told people the $137,450 all-wheel-drive EQS 580 4Matic Premium I tested was “a really good value.”
What took so long?
Mercedes builds the EQS in the same Sindelfingen plant in an industrial neighborhood of Stuttgart, Germany, that’s built internal combustion S-classes for decades. “EQ,” BTW, is Mercedes’s designation for all its electric vehicles, or EVs; the letters precede designations for individual model (S, in this case), drivetrain (580 4Matic) and trim level.
It’s a long, roomy luxury car, though its rear end looks truncated compared to previous S-classes.
That’s because it’s both smaller and a hatchback, a design that lends itself to slippery aerodynamics. A low drag boosts an EV’s cruising range. That’s important for EVs, which take longer to refuel than quick-pumping gasoline or diesel.
The fastback look and bobtailed butt make the EQS look small for a leading luxury sedan. At 205.4 inches long, it’s 9.9 inches shorter than the corresponding gasoline-powered model. Correspondingly, the EV’s wheelbase is 7.3 inches shorter, but passenger volume is nearly as big as the long-wheelbase gasoline model, and the 22-cubic-foot luggage compartment is nearly twice the size of the gasoline S-class’s rather meager trunk.
Mercedes calls this its new Progressive Luxury design philosophy. I suspect there’ll be a long-wheelbase EQS before too long that fits the traditional S-class footprint better.
The EQS is the spearhead of a flood of EQ-badged Mercedes EVs arriving over the next couple of years. Mercedes was slower than many brands getting all-electric models on the market, but it’s hitting the market in force now.
2022 Mercedes EQS prices and trim levels
EQS 450+ Premium: $102,310
EQS 450+ 4Matic Exclusive: $105,710
EQS 450+ 4Matic Pinnacle: $108,510
EQS 580 4Matic Premium: $119,110
EQS 580 4Matic Exclusive: $122,510
EQS 580 4Matic Pinnacle: $125,310
AMG EQS Premium: $147,500
AMG EQS Exclusive: $148,250
AMG EQS Pinnacle: $151,050
Prices exclude $1,050 destination charge.
What makes it go? How far? How long to charge?
Like most AWD EVs, the EQS 4Matic has two electric motors, one for each axle. Total output is 516 hp and 631 pound-feet of torque. They’re linked to a single-speed automatic transmission.
The EQS accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph.
Acceleration isn’t the challenge for EVs. The trick to building a first-class EV is combining that acceleration with enough range that owners don’t have to plug in every hour or so.
The EQS strikes a good balance. Its 107.8 kWh battery provides an EPA-estimated range of 340 miles on a charge. As with any vehicle, a heavy foot and high speeds will reduce range, but I found the EQS’s real-world range pretty consistent with the on-board computer’s projections over several days that included fast highways, country roads and errands around town.
Estimated charging time to full is 12.5 hours at the 240-volt current most owners will use every night. With more powerful DC fast chargers, Mercedes says the lithium-ion battery can accept up to 200 kW, good enough to charge from 10% to 80% in 31 minutes.
My real-world experience was again close to what Mercedes promised.
Using an EVgo charger, I got 62.3 kWh in 35 minutes while I bought groceries in a Meijer. Using the discounted rate for which I pay a monthly fee, that cost $10.39.
Driver assistance and safety features
Adaptive cruise control with route-based speed adaptation
Automatic high beams
Active lane keeping
Blind spot alert and assist
Active lane change assist
Head up display
Blind spot alert
Collision alert and automatic braking
Active parking assist
Traffic sign recognition and speed limit assist
Exit warning for oncoming traffic, including bicycles
Magical interior design, but functional shortcomings
The EQS interior is roomy and elegant. Every inch of my test car was wrapped in soft gray or brown leather and glossy black Linden wood.
The seats, armrests and center console looked like they’d been shaped by flowing water, smooth surfaces and shapes. Interior mood lighting offered 64 colors and adjustable brightness. The effect is effortlessly elegant and unquestionably modern.
The seats are comfortable and vastly adjustable, with standard ventilation and heat.
That brings us to one of the EQS’s perplexing shortcomings. Heated seats are de rigueur in EVs. They keep passengers comfortable and require less energy than using heated air to warm the whole interior.
A heated steering wheel complements that energy-saving virtue — not to mention being a rather obvious feature in a vehicle with a base price over $100,000.
Despite that, my EQS lacked a heated steering wheel. That alone will strike the car from many shopping lists.
Another simple oversight: a dial for volume in the 3D Burmeister audio system. The EQS has flat panel touch controls for nearly every function. Many work well, but audio volume stubbornly remains a frequently adjusted function best addressed with a dial.
In addition, the front ventilation fan was shockingly noisy on startup one cold night, rattling alarmingly for the first several minutes of my drive.
Stop interrupting me, Mercedes!
You can also adjust volume, heat, radio station and countless other features with spoken commands to the built-in virtual assistant, but it frequently misinterprets normal conversation as a command, interrupting with unnecessary questions and suggestions. It’s a rare drive with multiple occupants that passes without the virtual assistant butting in.
The rear seat is spacious. There’s plenty of leg and foot room, thanks in part to the lack of a center tunnel — a common feature in EVs, most of which locate their batteries under the passenger compartment floor in what’s generally called a skateboard layout.
The rear window is small. Visibility was just adequate. The EQS would be a fine candidate for the video rearview mirrors that are becoming increasingly common.
Driving impressions: One pedal-ish driving
The EQS is a big, heavy vehicle, nearly as long as a Lexus LS sedan and heavier than a 4WD Ford Expedition SUV.
Despite that, it’s quick and maneuverable, thanks to massive power and smart chassis engineering and controls.
Up to 10 degrees of rear steering shortens turning radius in parking lots and improves stability on the highway.
Steering feel is natural and direct despite the innovative feature, which is likely to become common on big EVs.
The adaptive air suspension absorbs bumps and holds the EQS level in quick maneuvers.
Acceleration is smooth and immediate. Spoiler alert: It always is in EVs. They generate maximum torque — the force associated with acceleration — like turning on a light bulb, and the lack of multispeed transmissions eliminates interruptions in power to the wheels.
Just like acceleration, decelerating is different with EVs, which send energy back to the battery for later use. The EQS has four levels of recuperative braking:
None, which strikes me as pointless, though I’m sure some drivers will use it. If you want to waste energy, why not just open all the windows and run the heat or AC full blast?
Normal, slowing the car gently but noticeably.
Strong, for more deceleration, eventually bringing the car to a full stop with no braking.
Intelligent, which claims to adjust for maximum energy recuperation depending on traffic and other conditions.
I’d like more deceleration from the strong setting, which isn’t quite as aggressive as the one-pedal setting common in EVs from American and Korean brands, which makes it easy to "feather" the accelerator for smooth stops and in enthusiastic driving.
I’m unconvinced about the value of intelligent recuperation, but that may change as I log more miles in Mercedes EVs.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS at a glance
Base price: $102,310 (all prices exclude $1,050 destination charge)
Electric all-wheel-drive large five-passenger luxury sedan
On sale now
Model tested: EQS 580 4Matic Pinnacle
Price as tested: $125,310
Drivetrain: One electric motor on each axle
Output: 516 hp; 631 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: Single-speed front transmission
Battery: 107.8 kWh lithium ion
Charging time: 12.5 hours @ 240v; 31 minutes 10-80% @ 200 kW
Efficiency: 91 mpge city/98 highway/94 combined. 36 kWh per 100 miles.
EPA range estimate: 340 miles
EPA estimated annual fuel cost: $750
0-60 time: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Wheelbase: 126.4 inches
Length: 205.4 inches
Width: 83.7 inches (with mirrors), 75.8 without
Height: 59.5 inches
Passenger volume: 103 cubic feet
Cargo volume: 22 cubic feet with rear seat up, 63 cubic feet rear seat folded
Curb weight: 5,888 pounds
Assembled in Sindelfingen, Germany
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: The Mercedes EQS is a great electric car, but it sure talks a lot