Paradigm shifter
CAR|October 2021
Is Mercedes-Benz’s electric start-up a virtuoso performer worthy of toppling the illustrious S-Class? We drive it at the international launch in Zurich, Switzerland, to find out …
Gautam Sharma

Price: TBC Engine: Permanent magnet, synchronous, rear Transmission: 2-speed auto Combined power: 245 kW Torque: 568 N.m 0-100 km/h: 6,20 seconds* Top speed: 210 km/h* Energy consumption: 20,4-15,7 kWh/100 km* CO2: 0 g/km Rivals: Audi E-Tron; Jaguar I-Pace; Porsche Taycan

class-leading range; superb refinement; a genuine game changer steering feel and dynamics feel slightly synthesized+

The “game-changer” label tends to be loosely thrown around nowadays but, when it comes to the brand-new Mercedes-Benz EQS, the term is completely appropriate. Here’s a clean-sheet debutant that will not only spearhead the three-pointed star’s sedan line-up, but also sets the bar for all of Merc’s upcoming battery-powered offerings, of which there will be several.

Unlike preceding EQ models, the EQS is underpinned by brand new, dedicated EV architecture, rather than using a platform sourced from an existing combustion-powered vehicle. The headline stats for the EQS include a touring range of up to 780 km on a full charge and fast-charging capability that provides 300 km of range with a 15-minute zap.

Harnessing all the packaging benefits of its electrified powertrain (obviously, no bulky engine up front), the EQS has a distinct cab-forward design, with a short dash-to-axle ratio and an expansive wheelbase.

Measuring 5 216 mm in length and 1 926 mm wide, it sits halfway between the standard and long-wheelbase S-Class, although its tapered styling makes the EQS appear much more compact than it actually is on the road.

The key number to note is a wheelbase stretched to 3 210 mm, which means there’s acres of sprawling room inside the EQS with no transmission/driveshaft tunnel impinging on cabin space, of course.

Two EQS variants will be offered from launch: the 450+ and 580 4Matic, with an EQS 53 coming online later. Deliveries worldwide will start in 2022, with the first vehicles expected to reach South Africa by Q2. It’s too early to predict pricing but we expect it to be positioned slightly above that of a similarly powered S-Class. The current S-Class range starts at just over R2,4 million, so figure on an entry point somewhere around the R2,7-million mark for the EQS 450+.

Both models use a 108 kWh battery pack, with the EQS 450+ deriving propulsion from a single synchronous electric motor powering the rear axle. This variant pushes out 245 kW and 568 N.m of torque for a claimed zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 6,20 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h. The range-topping EQS 580 4Matic (pictured) is equipped with dual motors – one for the front and rear axle – hence the 4Matic suffix to align with Mercedes-speak for AWD. The two motors produce 385 kW; 135 kW on the front axle and 250 kW on the rear, and 855 N.m of total torque. This is comparable with outputs of 370 kW and 700 N.m for the upcoming V8-powered S580 L 4Matic.

Mercedes-Benz quotes a claimed zero to 100 km/h acceleration time of 4,30 seconds and a top speed of 210 km/h. While these are not Tesla-bashing numbers for the EQS 580 4Matic, it feels rapid enough in the real world … but more on this later.

As with all electric vehicles, the sizeable battery pack makes for plenty of heft, with the EQS 450+ tipping the scales at a rather portly 2 480 kg and the top-of-the-line580 4Matic coming in at an AMG GLS 63-rivalling 2 585 kg. A low centre of gravity means the EQS, unlike its seven-seater stablemate, hides its substantial mass incredibly well.

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