Road test: the Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic rewrites the rules for battery-powered cars

Covering 780 kilometres on a full charge, the luxury limo is a superbly crafted game changer

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Whenever Mercedes-Benz debuts an all-new S-Class, it’s a given that it will reset the benchmark for luxury limos. So it should come as no surprise that the brand-new EQS – a fully electrified take on the S-Class theme – rewrites the key parameters for battery-powered vehicles.

No more range anxiety

You can forget about range anxiety in the EQS, as it can cover up to 780 kilometres on a full charge. The other key stat to note is that it only takes a 15-minute zap at a fast-charging station to add 300km of range. These are groundbreaking numbers.

The EQS can cover up to 780 kilometres on a full charge

Unlike previous EQ models, the EQS is built around an all-new EV-specific architecture that harnesses all the packaging benefits of an electric powertrain. There’s obviously no bulky combustion engine up front, nor is there a nine-speed transmission or fuel tank. What you have instead is a 108kW-hour battery pack (it sits under the cabin), and either one or two electric motors.

As a result, the EQS has completely different proportions to the latest S-Class, despite its overall dimensions being similar. The EQS has a stubby bonnet and cab-forward stance (ie the driver is positioned closer to the front of the car), while the wheelbase is a lengthy 3.2 metres, resulting in ample cabin space.

Merc’s design team hasn’t indulged in any half-measures in creating the swoopy bodyshell of the EQS, which has a drag coefficient of 0.20 – a new world record for a production car. Its aero efficiency, aided by door handles that retract to sit flush with the door panels. is part of the reason why the EQS offers such a monumental touring range.

The EQS is due on sale in the UAE towards the end of this year, but The National got an early drive at the model’s international launch in Switzerland. The EQS 450+ is propelled by a single electric motor powering the rear axle, and its outputs of 333 horsepower and 568Nm yield a 0-100 kilometres per hour split of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 210kph. The range-topping EQS 580 4Matic is equipped with dual motors – one each for the front and rear axle – and hence the 4Matic (Merc-speak for AWD) suffix. The two motors eke out 523hp and 855Nm, enabling the EQS 580 to sprint to 100kph in 4.3sec.

A look inside

One of the car's three state-of-the-art OLED screens

If you’ve sat in the latest S-Class, you’ll recognise some familiar elements in the EQS’s superbly crafted cabin, but unique to this model is the whizz-bang new Hyperscreen – an expansive curved glass screen that stretches right across the dashboard and houses three state-of-the-art OLED screens behind its shiny black surface.

Even if you’ve driven combustion-powered cars all your life (which is the case for most of us), piloting the EQS doesn’t require any major adaptations, apart from embracing the routine of recharging rather than refuelling. Just push the start button on the centre console, pull the steering column-mounted stalk into “D” and you’re off.

Silent surges

The EQS has completely different proportions to the latest S-Class, despite its overall dimensions being similar

As expected, the EQS glides away from standstill in complete silence, to the extent that even a Rolls-Royce Phantom pales in comparison. Although relatively large at 5.2 metres-plus in length and almost 2 metres in width, the EQS’s four-wheel-steer makes it an extremely nimble limo. I’m in the EQS 580 4Matic, and a couple of squirts of the throttle deliver an eye-opening rush of acceleration, providing a reminder that there’s a mountain of torque just an ankle twitch away. Yes, the EQS 580 won’t threaten a range-topping Tesla in a drag race, but there’s more than enough surge for effortless cruising and overtaking.

An interesting novelty is the Sound Experience, whereby a synthetic soundtrack can substitute – via the speakers – for the exhaust note of a combustion engine. The Vivid Flux setting invokes a strange spaceship-mimicking sound, but Roaring Pulse is a much more agreeable option, as it generates a rumble that’s akin to a muted AMG V8. Stamp on the throttle and the decibels rise accordingly, so you could conceivably fool passengers into thinking there’s a V8 stuffed under the bonnet.

Ultra-refined and impeccably packaged, the EQS is everything you’d expect of a flagship EV from Mercedes-Benz. It’s a game-changer for the battery brigade.

Specs: Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors

Power: 523hp

Torque: 855Nm

Transmission: NA

Fuel consumption: NA

Price: From Dh700,000 (estimate)

On sale: End of 2021

Updated: July 24, 2021, 8:36 AM