The Indian market has its fair share of high-end electric vehicles (EVs) but most are SUVs or sports models. The first luxury sedan to silently cruise into the EV space will be the Mercedes-Benz EQS. The general impression is that it’s just the electric version of the S-Class, but it is, in fact, all new. The EQS is born electric, built on a platform especially developed for EVs, which makes it quite different from anything currently available in the Mercedes stable in India. I travelled to Stuttgart, the home of the EQS, to find out whether Mercedes can bring the opulence, grandeur and richness of the acclaimed S-Class to the world of EVs.
The first thing that struck me was how different it looks. While the lineage is apparent, the bonnet is much shorter, the overall size smaller and the surfacing a lot cleaner. The front grille has been replaced by a glossy black surface bearing the tri-star, and an LED bar connects the headlamps. The bonnet is sealed off for better aerodynamics, and a small flap on the side allows you to fill in the washer fluid. India is likely to get the 20-inch wheels, which sit on sleek aerodynamic alloys. The door handles tuck away, and the roof flows over in a fastback style. All this clean surfacing and attention to aerodynamics has given the EQS bragging rights to a record-breaking 0.20 drag coefficient, making it the most aerodynamic production car. The rear, too, looks different, with the coil-like LED lamps, connected by a bar, giving it a distinguished look. The notchback boot gives you ample loading space, and with the seats folded down, I can even stretch out in there and make it a bed. It is cavernous.
While the styling may have fans as well as critics, the interior is sure to wow. Grabbing attention is the 55” single pane of glass that spans the dashboard. Under it, sit three screens—a 12.3” for the instrument cluster, a 17.7” in the centre for infotainment, and another 12.3” for the passenger. Apart from being able to access all the menu functions of infotainment, the passenger can also view things or play games. Sounds distracting for the driver? Well, Mercedes-Benz has 350 sensors in the car, all working away, and in this case, if they detect the driver’s eyes wandering, the passenger screen dims instantly. Yes, there is a lot of AI in this car, and another area where it works is in collecting information continuously to keep the most used menu options on top for easy access. They call this the zero-layer concept. So if you call home every day on your way back from work, this will come up as a suggestion. Quite remarkable.
I could go on about the crazy amount of tech in this fascinating car. The navigation system is another. First up, it gives you a live feed from a camera when there is a change of direction or a new instruction. It plots your route based on weather, optimising for battery usage, topography, charging stations and more to ensure you can extend your range. Coming to range, the 580S, which will come to India, claims a 676km range on WLTP (Worldwide Light Vehicle Test Procedure, new standards for EV testing), but sources say the Indian car being tested at ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) has given about 750km. That is massive, so you can happily bid goodbye to range anxiety with the EQS.
The EQS is powered by a 107.8 kWH battery, which in the 580S powers two motors. It is an all-wheel drive that gives you 523hp and a whopping 844 NM of torque. Flatten your foot to the floor, and that number takes on meaning as you get pushed into your seat and the EQS hurtles forward. Acceleration is grin-inducing. Mercedes have done a superb job with the steering to ensure you feel confident with all this power, despite the heavy car. On the smaller winding country roads, the EQS felt surprisingly agile and easy. The only thing that will take getting used to is the high binnacle, especially if you are short as me. Even in the most elevated seat position, it does hamper the line of vision for shorter people. Still, once you get used to it, the car is easy to drive, and the rear axle steering makes it easier, with parking being a breeze. If you still find it a bother, there is also park assist.
For those who like being behind the wheel, the EQS is a pleasure to drive. For those in the back seat, it also brings the S-Class feeling. There are energiser packages to spoil you, multiple screens and tablets to access functions, and a sense of space with the panoramic roof and ample leg room. The seats are supremely comfortable, and the back seat luxurious. The ride is what seals the deal. It ferries you over the roads in cloud-like comfort in a cabin that is serene. The silence in an EV adds to the sense of richness and luxury. With the incredible levels of cabin insulation, the EQS could be a meditation zone. There are a couple of sci-fi sound options if you want to hear your car on the move, which are channelled via the Burmester system. However, for me, an EV is all about the calm.
There is no doubt about it: The EQS is the pinnacle of luxury in the EV space. The fact that it will be the first EV from Mercedes to be SKD (semi-knocked down) in India will also allow them to price it closer to the regular S-Class, making it a tempting option. The Mercedes- AMG EQS 53 4-Matic launches on 24 August. Prices for the 580S, which will launch around October, are expected to be around ₹2 crore.
Renuka Kirpalani is the editor of Autocar Show.