Youth can be a useful barometer of future success.
Parked on the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) grounds, this lozenge-shaped Mercedes-Benz keeps drawing young admirers close. Teenagers stream past, on their way to a concert by somebody I’d never heard of (Rex Orange County, if you’re wondering), and they keep breaking off in singles and pairs to take selfies with the car. Personally, I couldn’t tell you if the car qualifies as “lit,” or “based.” But the kids clearly like it.
This appeal is pretty important for Mercedes, because the company’s other flagship four-door sedans are most definitely for The Olds. The E-Class and S-Class are both swishy and stylish, but they are also mostly popular with the kind of people who would hear “Rex Orange County” and think of a real estate office. Luxurious though they are, they’re also firmly rooted in the past.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS looks to the future. It’s the flagship for Mercedes’s rapidly expanding fully-electric range, and its mission is to keep the three-pointed star cool during a time of great change.
Looks are such a subjective category that they can be hard to score. When it debuted, the EQS was no fan favourite, and even now looks a bit like a four-wheeled computer mouse when you compare it to the sharp-looking Audi E-Tron range.
So I’ll dock a point for the slightly awkward rear three-quarter view, and knock another one off because this car’s black paint and 21-inch AMG multispoke wheels are doing a lot of the visual heavy lifting here. The blacked-out accents that come with the Night package ($5,000) combine with the black metallic paint to give the EQS some curb presence. It’s still a computer mouse, but at least it’s a well-designed one.
User Friendliness: 6/10
Look, we had door handles figured out years ago. There was no need to go and reinvent them. However, in the pursuit of tiny aerodynamic advantages and (more importantly) the need to apparently copy Tesla, the EQS gets big, chunky, power-retracting chrome door handles. They are frustrating.
First, they are surprisingly heavy to operate. The younger of my two kids needed constant help getting in. The passenger-side rear one on this tester had a tendency to stick. This seems like a small complaint, but think of how often you open and close your car’s doors. This should not be a thing.
Then, if/when you do actually make it inside, further annoyances abound. Mercedes has moved to haptic feedback buttons throughout the cabin, and they are all very fussy to use. The hazard light switch is right where you want to put your elbow. When Apple Carplay is active, the steering wheel obscures the leftmost icons.
Overall, the move to the huge touchscreen is an improvement over Mercedes’s prior infotainment controls, and some of these irritations would fade with user familiarity. But there’s still some polishing to be done here.
Few layouts are as easy to live with as a four-door liftback sedan. The EQS is roomy and comfortable as a family car – though I would absolutely not recommend this interior colour if you have kids. As an executive express, it’s excellent. Storage up front is good, and the low floor of an electric vehicle (EV) allowed Mercedes to tuck a small bin underneath the centre console, ideal for storing a (probably designer) handbag.
The flexibility of the large rear liftback is handy for laying out luggage and the like, and 580 L of cargo space fits expectations for this class. The lack of a frunk is hardly a deal breaker, but does dock the EQS a few points.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Don’t let the AMG wheels fool you: the EQS580 is emphatically not an AMG. Or at least, not a modern AMG. Mercedes’s performance brand now goes toe-to-toe with BMW on sporting dynamics, and often has the edge.
The EQS doesn’t have an edge. It’s not meant to. This is Mercedes’s more prominent strength: the ability to make driving effortless. Here, having access to monstrous electric torque isn’t front and centre to the experience, it’s more that it’s there on the few occasions you might need it – a short highway on-ramp, for instance. The rest of the time, the EQS is floaty and eerily quiet.
Its excellent coefficient of drag, a Prius-beating 0.20, cuts down on wind noise. The steering is light without being completely numb. Thanks to rear-wheel-steering that’s part of the Premium package ($7,000), it’s both composed at speed and also weirdly nimble in tight spaces. The only flaw is the nearly 2,500-kg (5,512-lb) curb weight, which can overwhelm the suspension if hitting a severe bump. Other than that, the EQS is an electric cloud.
While acceleration is effortless – and very quick – the EQS doesn’t quite have the straight-line punch to match up to more performance-oriented EVs. It’s not here to rearrange your internal organs like a Lucid Air or a Tesla Model S Plaid. Sprints to highway speed in the EQS occur in the four-second range, while some of its fiercer rivals can manage half that time.
However, it’s not a disappointment. At-present, such sprint times get more headlines than they really deserve. Bragging rights and hype make for good talking points, but odds are you don’t live at a dragstrip. The EQS doesn’t warp into the distance in the way you’d expect from a car with more than 600 lb-ft of torque, but the acceleration is right there when you need it. Most of the time, however, it encourages a more relaxed driving style, which is better for range – and your internal organs – anyway.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
The estimated range of 547 km should be more than enough for any EQS owner – especially on the west coast. You could drive from downtown Vancouver to Whistler, B.C., and back twice on a single charge, with a bit of juice left over. Perhaps because of the cruiser-oriented driving experience, the EQS didn’t chew through the electrons faster than expected, so eking a full 500 km out of a charge should be possible.
However, if you do happen to road-trip your EQS – perhaps out to British Columbia’s wine country – the EQS is quicker charging than expected. Mercedes claims the EQS can accept 200 kW of charging, which is slightly lower than some in-class rivals. However, in real world testing, taking the car from 20 per cent to 95 per cent charge took about forty minutes – enough to get through the line at a nearby coffee shop, wash down an Americano, and answer a few emails.
It should also be pointed out that the fast-charger used was one of a pair at a station, and the owner of an Audi E-Tron also plugged in there told me that the card reader on one of them had been broken for weeks. The EQS has sufficient range to make most driving tasks totally independent from public charging, but when public charging is required, our infrastructure has a way to go.
Few manufacturers do flagships like Mercedes. The EQS can be had with every conceivable amenity, from massaging seats to 64-colour ambient lighting. There’s everything here that you could want in a top-of-the-range S-Class, just with smooth EV power under your foot, and a futuristic touchscreen dash.
Of particular note is the climate control, which includes a HEPA filter to cut down on in-cabin particulates. One of the control screens even includes information on how much purification is going on. It’s just another example of how effectively the EQS isolates you from the chores of driving.
Kept from a perfect score only by an occasional shudder over sharp bumps, the EQS makes your couch look like a church pew. The seats are so plush, you’d think the interior designer took inspiration from 1960s Citröens. The massaging features take aches out of longer trips. Even the low-effort steering is part of the wafting experience.
But what really sets the EQS apart from its combustion-engine stablemates is the limited noise. You want some aural excitement in a sports car, but the goal of any executive sedan is to cut the chatter. The EQS whirrs artificially on acceleration, but it’s otherwise quiet and non-fatiguing to drive. Again, wind noise is curtailed by the slippery shape.
It should be noted, however, that the smoothing does eat into the rear headroom a little. It shouldn’t be an issue for anyone of average height, but if you’re over six feet, the EQS doesn’t quite provide the rear-seat limousine service that an S-Class does.
At this level, certain expectations need to be met for driver assistance and alerts, and the EQS delivers a full suite as standard. Adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring are all standard features.
More interesting is Mercedes’s upcoming Drive Pilot system. This Level 3 assist is already in use on some German highways, with speed restrictions. It’ll be rolling out to North American highways over the next year or so. Critically, Mercedes accepts liability when the system is active, a milestone in the path to full autonomy. It’ll be interesting to see how this is rolled out.
To be blunt, it’s unlikely that the EQS will be getting cross-shopped against other EVs by buyers with a close eye on the bottom line. Mercedes doesn’t even bother to sell the less-expensive 450 version in Canada – the reason being that the few EQS units available are going to be snapped up by people who would ordinarily get loaded-up S-Classes, but now want to dip a toe into electrification.
There are definitely more reasonable offerings in the EV segment. But if you’re looking for a Mercedes-Benz level of quality and comfort, then the EQS 580 doesn’t have much competition.
Luxury EVs are the future of transportation, unevenly distributed. Just as was the case when the first combustion cars hit the road, all the really good stuff was expensive. You need deep pockets to afford one of these, and deep pockets to afford a place to plug it in. It’s a luxury item.
And it delivers. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS feels special, boasts a futuristic cabin experience, and is polished to the high level you expect in a Mercedes. As a car that will tempt S-Class owners away from the need to burn gasoline, it’s a home run. And as evidenced by the reaction of the TikTok generation, it’s cool – the hardest thing to get right.
|Engine Displacement||385 kW|
|Engine Cylinders||Dual electric motors|
|Peak Horsepower||516 hp|
|Peak Torque||631 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||23.0 / 21.1 / 22.4 kWh/100 km, 2.6 / 2.4 / 2.5 Le/100 km cty/hwy/cmb; 547 km est. range (107.8 kWh battery)|
|Cargo Space||580 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic|
|Price as Tested||$167,245|
$15,650 – Premium Package, $7,000; Night Package, $5,000; Nappa leather, $2,000; Ambient lighting, $700; Air Control plus, $650; Dash cam, $300