Test Drive: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC Sedan
This is the electric we’ve been waiting for—the first fully battery-powered Mercedes-Benz. It’s been nearly a decade since Tesla launched the Model S and for carbon conscious buyers crossing their fingers for a true luxury driving experience, it’s felt a bit like we’ve been waiting for Godot and not just a new car. But the new Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC sedan has finally arrived, delivering S-Class opulence with electric power supplanting an internal combustion engine.
One of the main hurdles for those ready to make the leap to electric is range. But the EQS goes the distance. On a full charge, the 107.8-kWh battery coupled with the 516 hp dual motors in the EQS 580 are good for around 340 miles of range, depending on how hard you’re using the power (the 329 hp single motor EQS450 can go about 10 miles farther on a charge). That’s real world range that can last a solid week commuting or tooling around town without plugging in.
When it is time to “refuel,” a 200-kilowatt DC fast charger will take the battery from 10 to 80 percent in about a half an hour while a level 2 charger takes a bit over 11 hours for a full charge.
For a nearly 6,000-lb land yacht, the EQS is remarkably nimble. Ten-degree rear-axle steering allows the EQS to maneuver like a car a fraction of its size at lower speeds. It’ll even shuffle a bit when pushing through corners. But it’s 1,100 pounds heavier than its gas powered S-Class sibling, so it doesn’t feel quite as tight during spirited sporty driving.
On the other hand, the EQS is plenty quick with its electric 631 lb-ft of torque. The 580 version goes 0 to 60 in an advertised 4.1 seconds, and is a few ticks faster than the gas-powered S 580 (the EQS450 gets to 60mph in 5.6 seconds).
All in all, the EQS is incredibly satisfying to drive. Our biggest (and only real) gripe with the EQS is the braking system. The regenerative (or recuperation in Mercedes lingo) brakes are incredibly efficient, but also quite quirky.
There are four levels of regenerative braking the driver can set using what looks like gear-shifting paddles on the steering wheel. Depending on the level selected, the brakes engage to some degree when you lift your foot from the accelerator and, while decelerating, the brake pedal actually moves automatically to mirror where it would be during manual braking. It’s a keen bit of engineering, but when you actually apply pressure to the brake pedal, it can be difficult to gauge how hard to push because the sensation feels like you have to squish your foot through an inch or two of mud before the brakes actually start to grab. Though eventually they will, and quite effectively at that. It’s a system that likely takes some getting used to, but the week we tested it was not enough to build up our comfort level.
The ‘Ugly’ Elephant in the Room
Many, many… many people find the EQS’s exterior to be unattractive. We’ve heard rather unfavorable comparisons to jelly beans and computer mice. But the curvy space egg design does offer a wildly low 0.20 drag coefficient, saving power and extending range. So, the aesthetic has a purpose.
We’re a bit ambivalent toward the EQS’s look, but our view was mainly from the driver’s seat and it’s on the inside that the EQS is truly beautiful.
Behind the wheel, you’re acutely aware that you’re driving a flagship Mercedes. Luxury is in the details and the folks at MB didn’t miss a trick. Every surface inside the ultra-quiet cabin is supple—each interface thoughtful.
Adaptive air suspension makes for a soft and elegant ride no matter where you’re sitting. A few of our passengers found the ride more comfortable than the gas-powered 580. Heated and ventilated seats, a 3D Burmeister stereo, and dual panoramic sunroofs are all standard. But for a modest $6K more, the “pinnacle” trim package also adds massage functions, the air balance cabin-air purification system and a massive head-up display.
While there’s no front storage compartment (or even a way to pop the hood, for that matter), the hatchback rear trunk is massive, easily capable of hauling a week’s worth of luggage for four people.
The 56-inch“Hyper” Screen, which is really a triptych of screens that run the entire length of the dash, controls nearly everything in the car, from the stereo and AC to the navigation system (which among the best we’ve ever experienced) and the massaging seats. You can even play a game of Tetris when parked or sitting at a charger.
All in all this first electric offering from Stuttgart sets the bar for battery-powered luxury. Is it perfect? No. But it is a damn good car and a harbinger of a brighter electric future. In the end, it’s been worth the wait.