What is it?
The modern take on the luxury car. Gone are the days when buyers just wanted a limousine with a big V8 engine under the bonnet. In 2022 a new generation of buyers want the latest in technology and comfort, and they want it in a different form.
Which is why Mercedes-Benz has introduced this all-new EQS SUV, an all-electric SUV that rivals the brand’s stalwart S-Class, as a new flagship model for the German range.
Torquecafe was one of a small group of Australian media who got to sample the new EQS SUV in the US recently, driving it in and around Denver, Colorado, to see how this new model caters to the modern luxury audience.
As soon as you see it the EQS SUV stands out from the S-Class and its SUV sibling, the GLS-Class. Instead of the bold, angular lines of the GLS, the EQS is smoother and more rounded, with aerodynamics and a desire to differentiate the two luxury SUVs resulting in two very different looking Mercedes models.
Underneath it sits on the brand’s bespoke electric vehicle platform that the brand hopes will lead it into a new era of motoring, more than 100 years after it invented the automobile.
Does it have any racing pedigree?
Mercedes is another brand that joined Formula E (albeit briefly) to learn about electric motors and batteries in the heat of competition. While it has quit the series now, clearly lessons were learnt that has allowed the brand to push forward into this new age of electrification with confidence.
What’s under the bonnet?
Mercedes-Benz Australia is likely to offer two variants of the EQS SUV, at least initially, with the 450 4Matic joined by the 500 4Matic.
Both use the same dual electric motor powertrain, but with different tuning for different performance levels. In the 450 they make a combined output of 265kW of power and 800Nm of torque, while in the 500 it bumps up to 330kW and 855Nm.
We were only able to sample the 450 4Matic in the US, with the 500 4Matic not available yet, but even being the ‘lesser’ of the two models it certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of performance.
The 450 4Matic will run 0-100km/h in just 6.0 seconds, according to Mercedes, which is rapid for a seven-seat luxury SUV. The near-instant torque offered up by the electric motors means the EQS SUV, despite its size, has the kind of easy, effortless performance that defines true luxury vehicles.
The motors are powered by a 108.4kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides a claimed driving range of up to 610km for the 450 4Matic – a healthy amount of range for such a big vehicle, which was more than enough for our test drive through the stunning mountains around Denver,
How does it handle?
It’s surprisingly spry for a big SUV, but also managed to be suitably cosseting and luxurious. And the key to this is the EQS SUV comes fitted with adaptive air-suspension as standard, which allows it to alter its ride and handling characteristics as needed.
Around town you can leave it in the ‘Comfort’ setting and enjoy a relaxed ride that does a nice job of soaking up the bumps. But when we got to the mountains we dialed up ‘Sport’ and the chassis lowered, the suspension stiffened and the steering got more responsive.
While still not a sports car, the EQS SUV was pleasant to drive through the sweeping mountain roads. The weight of the car – there’s nearly 700kg of batteries – is always noticeable, but it’s direct and fluid in how it drives.
One of the keys to the EQS SUV feeling responsive, both in the city and the open road is its rear-wheel steering. It comes standard with 4.5-degrees of rear turning, but that can be optioned up to 10-degrees. This helps both low-speed and high-speed response and allows the big SUV to turn on itself like a small hatch.
This rear-wheel steering was highlighted in an unusual place for a luxury SUV likely to cost more than $250k – off-road. Mercedes wanted to really show off the breadth of capability for its new flagship so we headed into the Colorado mountains (in models specially equipped with smaller alloy wheels and off-road tyres).
While it’s unlikely many (if any) owners will risk tree branch scratches and rocks being bashed against the EQS SUV body, Mercedes has engineered a very advanced off-road system, taking advantage of the smooth torque delivery of the electric motors as well as all the other technology on the car.
For example, it can use the parking cameras to help you navigate narrow off-road tracks, and even has a ‘see-through bonnet’ feature that uses a camera to give you a top-down perspective on what you’re driving over.
Combined with the rear-wheel steering all this technology helped make the EQS SUV a surprisingly capable and easy off-roader to drive.
Where would you most like to drive it?
While it’s a great all-rounder and perfectly at home in the city or on sweeping open roads, the idea of taking an EQS SUV into the Australian bush has strong appeal. Obviously there would be some logistical challenges with its 610km range, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable – and very luxurious – way to go climbing over rocks and around trees.
What’s the interior like?
As you’d expect from a vehicle at the pinnacle of Mercedes’ range it’s a suitable plush and luxurious affair.
While there is a five-seat version available in the US, all Australian bound EQS SUVs will be seven-seaters. The first two rows offer plenty of space for adults, but the third row is a little tight on knee and foot room.
Naturally there’s loads of technology, with a series of digital screens across the dashboard taking care of all the necessary controls and displays. The driver gets a 12.3-linch digital instrument panel and in the 450 4Matic the central infotainment screen is a sizable 12.8-inch unit.
However, if you really want to step it up a level, Mercedes is likely to offer the ‘Hyperscreen’ as an option across the range. This is a trio of screens for the instrument, infotainment and passenger that are all housed together in a single piece that spreads across the dash fascia. It’s a real ‘wow factor’ element that underlines the premium positioning of the EQS SUV.
How much does the Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV cost?
Local pricing has been locked in yet, but it’s expected the 450 4Matic will start at approximately $250,000, with the 500 4Matic above $300,000.
The EQS SUV is expected to arrive in Australia in the third quarter of 2023, and Mercedes will be hoping Tesla hasn’t returned the Model X to local sale. That’s because it would leave the EQS SUV as the only luxury seven-seat EV on the market in this country – only adding to its appeal.
Would I buy one?
It’s a very tempting proposition and the EQS SUV would make a fantastic daily driver. It ticks a lot of boxes – luxury car, family car, off-roader and electric vehicle.
While it’s unlikely to appeal to Mercedes’ more traditional and conservative customers, it does open the brand up to a new era of luxury buyers.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 450 4Matic price and specifications
|Powertrain:||Dual electric motors|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive|
|0-100km/h:||6.0 seconds (claimed)|