Road tests

New Mercedes EQS prototype review

From behind the wheel, the late prototype version of the Mercedes EQS reveals the tech-packed EV’s quiet and refined character

Verdict

The Mercedes EQS is the kind of car where you don’t miss a combustion engine. It’s all about refinement, which it seriously delivers. It’s surprisingly agile given its size and weight, while performance is strong.

This is our first chance to sample the new Mercedes EQS – the company’s all-electric flagship – ahead of its world premiere, and from our experience of this late-stage prototype, the technology is certainly something impressive.

Mercedes recently revealed more EQS specifications, with an EQS 450+ and an EQS 580 4MATIC available from launch. It’s the latter we’re testing here, and with 516bhp and 855Nm of torque, even for a 2.5-tonne car the EQS pulls powerfully and smoothly. The thrust on offer is considerable, but it’s superbly relaxing.

That’s thanks to the incredible refinement the car offers. The pair of electric motors give four-wheel drive and very little whine, so cruising along in the EQS is hushed, helped by an ultra-low drag coefficient of just 0.2Cd, so the experience fits perfectly with the luxury demands of this electric limousine.

Adaptive air suspension is standard, and again, despite the weight due to the big battery (two battery sizes will be offered from launch, a 90kWh unit and a 108kWh pack, which offers up to 478 miles of range), the EQS drives with a light touch.It smooths bad surfaces and filters out the worst the road can throw at it.

However, you’re not completely decoupled from the driving experience, even if the car packs plenty of driver-assistance systems. Instead, the air suspension removes the bad elements, yet still offers a degree of connection between driver and machine, which is certainly refreshing.

The steering is light, but for a 5.2-metre-long car the EQS is surprisingly nimble, too. Rear-axle steering is fitted to help boost agility and give a feeling that the EQS is smaller and lighter than it actually is. It definitely helps manoeuvrability in built-up areas, and out of town the Mercedes corners well for a range-topping saloon, with great traction and strong punch out of bends thanks to that huge torque being supplied to all four wheels. The brake regeneration is great too and allows for easy one-pedal driving in its strongest setting, while there’s also an adaptive auto mode.

There are some sound and ambient light programmes designed to inject a bit more emotion into the driving experience, but we’d say you don’t need them.

There are some drawbacks. Given the location of the battery in the car’s floor, you sit quite high, so headroom might be a little limited if you’re tall. From the driver’s seat you also can’t see the bonnet – although you soon get used to placing the car on the road. It’s partly due to the high dashboard that features the EQS’s party piece: the 55.5-inch curved Hyperscreen infotainment system, which is beautifully crisp and clear.

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