The Mercedes S-Class does not need an introduction. For half a century, it has been the top-of-the-line mode from the Mercedes-Benz group of models. It is the “mass-market” luxury car segment just below Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and the likes. The S-Class is the first generation that brings new Mercedes-Benz options and technology to the market.
A complete new generation of the S-Class, based on a clean-sheet electric platform design, is now here, and that’s the reason to write this first impressions article. This first impressions piece, though, does not do justice to this car. A week in the hands of someone who knows far more about cars than I do is needed for a complete review.
Birth of the BEV
Mercedes’ road to electrification started with Tesla seeing an opportunity to sell its technology to Mercedes and get the financial injection it needed to survive. This was in 2008, when the Tesla Roadster hit the streets. The Mercedes sub-brand SMART was looking into an electric version, and Tesla could offer the electric powertrain. This was the start of electrification at Mercedes and the salvation of Tesla when the Roadster was hard to sell.
Mercedes kept developing fully electric versions of its cars, first on fossil fuel platforms, like the EQC and later EQB prototypes. It took a few years to go from prototype to production. Knowing something is the future and guessing when it is time to dive into that future are two very different things.
The development of the first two prototypes was followed by a clean-sheet approach for the top-of-the-line E-Class and S-Class. My first impression is that this effort was not in vain.
- Battery — 107.8 kWh, about 398 miles of range.
- Motor — 245 kW and 568 Nm, all-wheel drive.
- Charging — 207 kW DC and 11 kW AC.
- Euro NCAP — ***** (5 stars)
- Length*Width*Height — 205.4” * 75.8” * 59.5”
The EQE 300 starts at €71,138 and tops out at €161,283 for the fully loaded AMG 53 4MATIC+ with options.
The EQS 450+ starts at €109,090 and tops out at €215,255 for the fully loaded AMG 53 4MATIC+ with options.
We did have some discussion about selecting the EQE or the EQS for the “longlist.” They were built with the same building blocks, making them technically identical in many ways. But the building blocks of the EQS are arranged differently, resulting in a different car.
The EQS has a lot more advanced options standard. Its battery is 17 kWh larger. It is 10.6” longer, which is used to create a lot more legroom in the backseats. It has a far bigger trunk. And it has rear-wheel steering standard.
Nobody is buying a Mercedes with only the standard options. As the price ranges shows, it is easy to spend more on an EQE than on an EQS. The EQE is a driver’s car, but the EQS is a chauffeur’s limousine. This is the only one in this class in our longlist.
When exiting or entering this car, seats are rolled back to make getting in and out as easy as possible. Without a profile, you have to readjust seat and steering wheel every time. Perhaps it should default to the last position when the driver does not have a profile, but I will create a profile if I ever get to drive this dream machine again.
My first challenge was leaving the Mercedes dealer’s parking lot. Many Dutch roads have bicycle lanes. In my tiny Twingo and now Zoe, I was used to driving up to the bicycle lane to have a view left and right of the traffic on the road. The long nose of the EQS forced me to drive onto, and thus block, the bicycle lane to get a clear view of the traffic. This is only partially a fault of the EQS — it is mostly a bad design of the exit of the parking lot.
Once the road was clear, it was as easy to turn onto the lane as it was with my Zoe thanks to the rear steering wheels. I think the EQS is the largest car I reviewed these past few weeks, but the easiest to maneuver. I am not a fan of rear wheel drive, but I fell in love with rear wheel steering.
It is a superb driving machine. The world glides by in near silence with hardly any vibrations of the wheels on the road. Perhaps a Model S is a better driving machine, but perhaps the EQS is the best. I would not know, it is far outside my purview.
I did drive through cramped city centers, small country roads, and wide highways. It all was as easy as it should be. For the person in the back, he/she can leave it to the chauffeur. Just read, work, listen to music, dream, or even make love; the car will not interrupt you.
Infotainment & Driving Assist
I don’t play games while driving and I am a bit deaf, so I have no comment on the infotainment functions of this car. I did not look at them.
The driving assist is top of the bill. There is no one-pedal driving, probably the only omission in this system. I did use lane keeping, lane changing, and adaptive cruise control. They all made me relax while driving, as they should.
The driving assist systems are not just working as they should, they are also very polite. When I was using adaptive cruise control in the right lane and another car was on the onramp looking for a place to access the main road, the Mercedes EQS slowed just enough to make room for the car on the onramp. This behavior is mandatory in Germany, where traffic on the onramp has right of way, but to have it implemented so smoothly was a pleasure to experience.
The usability of an electric vehicle is for me about the range and charging speed. That combination is still the defining metric for use other than daily shopping and commuting. The EQS is beyond this. It enters the phase where trunk space, legroom, cup holders, and towing capacity start to play a role in the usability of the BEV — the same criteria people use for their fossil fuel vehicles.
Comparing the EQS with the same metrics used by the buyers of smoke machines, the EQS wins.
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