What happens when one of the world’s oldest automotive manufacturers decides to create a spaceship? We don’t know yet, but the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC gives us a good idea of what it might be like when that time comes. Be ready for warp speed, bright screens, and a whole lot of automation.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC is the company’s first vehicle launched under a new sub-brand called Mercedes-EQ, and in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, they led with their flagship luxury sedan before the mid-sized EQE and EQB crossover arrive. The design team at Mercedes-EQ set out to create a car that looks significantly different than their internal combustion vehicles. They’ve come out with a smooth and seamless design that is not only modern but also purposeful in maximizing efficiency.
Take a walk around the EQS 580 and you will notice there are hardly any creases, and its raked roofline and smooth rear end resembles a coupe (or an Apple mouse) than the full-fledged luxury sedan it actually is. The front grille’s overt use of black plastic is not something we are used to seeing on a flagship German sedan, but its function extends beyond aesthetics – there is a combination of ultrasound, cameras, radar, and laser sensors for the various driver assistance features. Rounding out the futuristic styling is a set of optional 21-inch AMG wheels that added some subtle elegance to the package.
The flush door handles pop out automatically as you approach the EQS 580, pull on them, and you will be welcomed to a cabin that looks straight out of fiction. The layout is dramatically different than a traditional Mercedes-Benz – there are three high-resolution screens spanning over 56 inches of glass and 190 LED lighting units displaying up to 64 different colours to set the tone – and the visual presentation is truly second to none. Materials are slightly below the typical S-Class standard, but it is still very high quality and the rest of the wow factor is made up by the stunning first impression it makes.
The latest generation Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system is tasked to power the Mercedes-EQ flagship. It is designed using a new ‘zero-layer’ concept that keeps frequently used and important applications at the top level of the screen, and even though the learning curve is still tall, the interface is improved over the previous generation MBUX system and system response is quite smooth.
The touchpad found on previous generations of MBUX is now gone so users will have to use the touchscreen to access the menus. Front seat passengers can control the infotainment system through the touchscreen ahead of them, negating the need to lean over to the main screen. We found the easiest – and least distracting – method is to control most of its function using voice commands, whereby the intelligent system manages to recognize not only various conversational prompts, but also the seating location of where the command came from to apply the settings properly.
The seats are generally comfortable in the EQS 580 despite the unusually high position and the slight lack of headroom as a result of the roofline. Our tester is equipped with the optional massaging front seats with above-average strength and intensity, and buyers who are looking for a full limousine experience should opt for the Executive Rear Seating Package that adds climate comfort, power adjustability, massaging, neck-heating, wireless-charging, MBUX tablet, and other goodies for $7,000.
Powering this people carrier from the future are two electric powertrains that Mercedes-EQ called eATS – one on each axle for all-wheel drive capability. Total power output is measured at 516 horsepower and 631 lb-ft. of torque. As one can imagine, the EQS 580 4MATIC can accelerate to its absolute fullest at any moment’s notice with no letup throughout, reaching 100 km/h in as little as 4.3 seconds.
A lot has been written about the potential of electric vehicles but we think the best application is in a luxury sedan– you need not to worry about any noise, vibrations, or harshness from the powertrain, and the monstrous torque output is what many luxury automakers hope to achieve through the use of complex engine structures.
Driving range on the EQS 580 4MATIC is rated at 547 kilometres, which is plenty for an EV let alone one with this much technology on board. We observed a range of 480-kilometre from a full charge when weather and real-world conditions were accounted for which was reasonable. The EQS can be charged with up to 200-kW power at fast charging stations and it can gain about 300 kilometres of range in as little as 15 minutes.
The biggest letdown with the EQS 580 4MATIC is the driving dynamics, or more precisely, the lack thereof. Though, we suppose this won’t be a deal breaker for those looking for a full-size electric luxury sedan. Much of the driving feel is isolated from the driver with the main culprit being the steering system that feels completely disconnected from the road. As a result of the overly boosted steering wheel reacting to the slightest input, the EQS 580 felt less poised than we would have typically liked in a flagship sedan.
Despite the lack of road feel, the EQS 580 4MATIC handles quite well in corners for a vehicle of its size and weight. Understeer is not excessive thanks to the low centre of gravity from having its heavy batteries below the floor, and the optional rear axle steering system that turns the rear wheels up to 10-degrees.
The latter feature is another neat party trick as you and your passenger can actually see the rear wheels rotate from the side mirrors, and the system worked very well in helping the EQS navigate tight streets and parking lots. The rear wheel steering does require some getting used to at the beginning but the efforts are rewarded. We observed plenty of stopping power through the regenerative braking system, but the pedal feel left much to be desired with inconsistent response.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC has some of the world’s most advanced driver assistance features such as Active Steering, Active Brake, Crosswind, Active Blind Spot, Exit Warning, Active Lane Keeping and Lane Change, Active Stop-and-go, Front and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, plus a lot more. The EQS even manages to analyze the driver’s eyelid movements to detect fatigue so it can offer up warnings before any accidents happen. Here you truly get the sense of confidence that the vehicle is always on the lookout for you.
Our tester came in at $162,150 – a pretty penny for most – but it can be worth it for the tech-junkies that want an early taste of what the future holds, as well as those who want to rid the gas bill without sacrificing any daily indulgence. There is no direct competition yet, but we expect that to change very soon with the Lucid Air luxury sedan slated to arrive in the near future. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC starts at $144,200, a $1,300 premium over the gas-powered S 580 4MATIC sedan, and despite its flaws, it opens the page to a new era of luxury automobiles.