What AMG has achieved dynamically with such a large, heavy saloon is certainly impressive. Performance is staggering and the chassis can keep up gamely – even if a little ride comfort is sacrificed for the pleasure. However, none of this fixes the fact that the EQS range as a whole just doesn’t feel special enough; as if Mercedes has held back on the luxury in order to not step on the toes of the superb S-Class. For £161,860, that’s inexcusable. If you want an all electric luxury limousine, the BMW i7 is a much better prospect.
Things are hotting up within the Mercedes electric vehicle lineup, with its EQ sub brand teaming up with AMG to see just how far EV performance can go. The result is the EQS 53 4MATIC+: £161,860’s worth of high voltage, high luxury mash up.
Fast electric cars have made us all recalibrate what constitutes a huge amount of power, and the EQS 53 is certainly not holding back when it comes to mind-bending numbers. The 53 features a motor driving each axle, with a combined output of 649bhp and 950Nm of torque.
That’s more than enough to shrug off the 2.8-tonne kerb weight. The 0-62mph sprint is dispensed in just 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 137mph. And that’s before you add the optional AMG Performance Package. That sees the output increase to 751bhp and a staggering 1,020Nm, with the performance figures improving to a 3.4-second 0-62mph time and a 155mph top speed. Fortunately, there’s also a set of ceramic composite brake discs included with the £8,995 pack, which should keep that incredible performance in check.
It’s the less potent version tested here, but at no point were we left longing for a little extra punch. Straight line speed is stunning, with acceleration at any speed and any moment enough to pin you back into the seat. It’s made all the more surreal by the near silence that can be enjoyed from inside the EQS, with only a subtle rumble from the fat 275mm wide tyres wrapped around 21-inch wheels disturbing the peace.
But despite that weight, Mercedes-AMG has turned a car that in standard form feels fairly soft and wallowy into one that’s much better tied down. The chassis balance is neutral, grip is enormous and while you can’t push it too far before that mass makes itself felt, the inclusion of four-wheel steering makes it feel much more agile than you might expect. It’s not fun as such, but it is effective.
On the downside, it does affect ride comfort ever so slightly, but not to the point of it being uncomfortable. It’s at its best on a motorway, where the supreme stability and low aerodynamic drag makes it relaxing and confidence inspiring on the move.
While our drive wasn’t long enough to fairly assess the car’s efficiency, the installation of a vast 107.8kWh battery means that range should be plenty. Officially, it’ll cover 358 miles between top ups (our car’s estimated range was 345 miles on 100 per cent charge, so pretty close to the WLTP numbers), while 200kW charging capability means that you won’t need to wait for too long to get back on the road again.
But while all of that sounds fairly positive, expectations are very high for a luxury vehicle, and the EQS misses the mark elsewhere. Its problems are to do with the way it feels, rather than the way it drives.
This is a car that, let’s remind ourselves, costs over £160,000, yet sat in the back – a place where many well-heeled owners might choose to park themselves on a regular basis – it might feel rather underwhelming. Yes, there’s lots of knee room, but the seats aren’t especially sumptuous and there’s little in the way of the screens or gadgets that you’ll find in almost any other luxury limousine.
Go for the optional Rear Luxury Lounge Pack (only offered on the Touring trim – not the Night Edition that we have here) and you get reclining, massaging seats that are controlled by a little tablet computer in the centre armrest. Without that upgrade, you’re left with some admittedly soft but overly upright seats that don’t have particularly impressive head room. Either way, it’s no S-Class; a car that will leave you cooing at the beauty and quality of each and every surface you touch.
And while you could argue that the differing powertrains in the EQS and S-Class mean that they’re aimed at slightly different people, the same excuse isn’t needed by the BMW i7. BMW’s all electric saloon feels on a different planet to the EQS when it comes to accommodation, tech and quality.
No rival models can match the dashboard real estate dedicated to digital screens, though. The EQS gets the ‘Hyperscreen’ setup; combining the standard digital dials with a 17.7-inch central touchscreen and a further 12.3-inch display ahead of the passenger. Get over the slightly oppressive look of all that tech, and it does work fairly smoothly in practice.
The dashboard level feels very high, though, so you need to jack up the front seat to an SUV-style driving position just to see out properly – at which point taller occupants will start to feel a little tight for front headroom.