As long as you have money, you can buy anything, right? Well, not exactly. Experience is something you can’t purchase. But Mercedes-Benz has plenty of it, and it proved it when it accepted the challenge to turn its luxurious vehicles into EVs. But it didn’t just make a tiny electron-powered micromobile; it went all in and made a big, luxurious SUV that runs on batteries.
The German automaker is not on its first try to build vehicles that run on something other than dinosaur juice. Back in the ’90s, it tested fuel-cell vehicles on the A-Class. A car that was designed to accommodate a battery pack inside its floor. Yet, that project failed, and the small-sized MPV ended up being propelled just by ICE, either gasoline or diesel.
But the story didn’t end there. Mercedes-Benz continued to research alternative sources of power so the EV revolution didn’t catch them off-guard. Still, it didn’t rush things up. Looks like the carmaker didn’t want to pay overtime to its engineers. So, they did it at their own pace. But, boy, what an achievement did they make! As soon as it figured out how to price its vehicles and provide them with various levels of electric motors and battery packs, it accelerated at an EV pace and launched a massive counter-offensive with the electric sedans and SUVs. Rumors have it that the G-Wagen will also be switched from ICE to electric motors.
The switch from ICE to EV is more complex in terms of design. Suddenly, car designers had to throw away most of their books regarding how to pen the radiator’s grille since there is none. EVs don’t need as many cooling areas as regular internal combustion vehicles. On the other hand, customers are not ready yet for cars without an engine compartment at the front unless they are supercars. But that area is still needed for a crumple zone to protect the passengers.
As a result, they made the EQS SUV with a front area covered by a panel. But they couldn’t just leave it black, with the carmaker’s badge in the middle. No; they adorned it with many small three-pointed stars printed on it. Above them, a light bar crossed the front fascia from side to side, thus connecting the intelligent LED headlights. The bumper featured a wide and narrow grille needed to cool the battery pack and the electronic components of the vehicle, and it was flanked by two air intakes.
From its profile, the SUV looks well-proportioned, despite its short front end. Since the vehicle had to be aerodynamic to help extend the range, its overall shape was almost organic. The only angular lines are in front of the doors, where the A-pillars meet the beltline, and at the bottom of the C-pillars. Every other line was rounded. At the back, the taillights are connected via a red strip that runs across the tailgate. Surprisingly, though, for an EV, the rear bumper features an apron where there are two trims that resemble exhausts. But why? It might trick other drivers into thinking that the big SUV is an ICE-powered vehicle.
While the exterior is not that spectacular, apart from the grille-less front fascia, the interior is a completely different story. The EQS SUV 580 comes fitted as standard with the Hyperscreen display and many other features that take care of our comfort. In addition, the automaker installed a third touchscreen of 12.3″ in front of the passenger. On long journeys, they can watch movies, but a camera senses if the driver is peeking at that screen and instantly dims it, so the one behind the wheel can’t see it. That’s how you can tell that this automaker has over 120 years of experience; it thinks about everything.
Mercedes-Benz studied materials, and when it couldn’t find one to satisfy it, it invented it. Areas that are not soft or padded are pleasantly felt under the fingers. You can’t expect anything less from this brand. Everything feels solid and of high quality, and nothing squeaks. Furthermore, the ambient lighting surrounding the cabin with a warm and relaxing light also becomes a warning red light when trying to change lanes and another vehicle is in the blind spot.
Drivers could adjust their seats just by entering their height on the onboard computer. There are plenty of storage areas where you could easily lose your phone. But Mercedes also thought about that, and the vehicle is warning the driver if a phone is placed on the induction charging port underneath the center stack. Front seat occupants can also use two USB-C charging ports mounted on the center console.
The leather-wrapped seats are comfortable and provide adequate side support. Not like in a sportscar, but still enough to make occupants feel good and safe. Still, the driving position might be too high. Moreover, that self-adjustment system might work for some, but others might find it useless. I did. It placed the seat too close to the pedals, tilted the seatback too much, and raised the steering wheel too high. But that happened to me at 6.1 ft (1.85 m). Another colleague, who’s about 5.6 ft (1.71 m) tall, found the driving position perfectly adjusted by the car’s computer.
The second row provides excellent legroom and headroom for its occupants. In addition, the EQS SUV provides power adjustments for the second-row seats, including the seatback’s reclining. There is seating for three on that split-folding bench. If nobody sits in the middle, the other two passengers can fold down a wide armrest fitted with a storage compartment (with an option for an induction charger). In addition, there are two retractable cupholders from that and a phone holder.
The automaker installed two USB-C ports there to ensure that their devices won’t run out of batteries on long journeys. Fortunately, there’s no need for cables to connect to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay since the MBUX infotainment system knows how to pair them wirelessly.
Mercedes-Benz also found a way to install a panoramic glass roof that opens. While it didn’t open completely, it still provided enough fresh air, and, when the sun was too hot, the driver could cover it with electric blinds at a slide of the finger on the overhead panel or a voice command.
The EQS SUV is a comfortable vehicle built to cover hundreds of miles on a charge. But it’s not a light vehicle, and I could feel that at every bump on the road. While the suspension was on the comfort or the eco setting, it felt like a cruise ship. Sure-footed, but diving and rising. Switched on the sport setting, and the air suspension suddenly changed the car’s behavior. It felt more agile and nimble. And that’s a strange thing for such a heavy SUV.
On the Off-road setting, the car’s ground clearance had increased another 22 millimeters (0.87″) to a maximum of 220 (86.6″), which allowed it to go easily on uneven terrain. Of course, it’s not a G-Wagon, but it won’t be scared by some dirt on its wheels. In addition, the drivetrain will automatically adjust the necessary torque to each wheel via the ESP system. It will act like a locking differential. The vehicle we tested was fitted with winter tires on the 21″ light-alloy wheels. These worked fine on grass and some mud, but I wouldn’t recommend trying them on softer grounds. There, the 2.8-ton weight might be a problem.
The massive SUV pulled impressive performance on a winding road, on tarmac, and with the sport program on. It could smoke its tires when I flat out on the exits of some hairpins. Still, the ESP was there to help, and there was no side movement whatsoever. At the same time, it didn’t feel uncomfortable inside the cabin. It was just fast, but not scary.
During parking and tight areas maneuvers, the 10-degree steering (offered as an option) of the rear axle helps a lot. However, you must reset your idea of sharp curves. The SUV turns quicker than you’d expect from a vehicle with such a long wheelbase.
While I found the adaptive cruise control annoying, it was very safe. It brakes, it pulls the steering wheel to keep the vehicle inside the lane, and as long as the driver doesn’t do anything stupid, the EQS SUV will keep them safe.
The version tested was fitted with five seats, but a seven-seat is an option. Thus, the EQS SUV offers a huge trunk space. Furthermore, you could create a cozy sleeping area with the rear seats folded down. You won’t need a tent if you plan on going camping with this vehicle.
Another important advantage of this vehicle is its high-capacity battery that can hold up to 105 kWh of electricity. Its fast-charging ability allows the vehicle to get from 10% to 80% in half an hour at a 200 kW DC charging station. Charge it at home, at your wallbox, and you’ll be able to completely fill the battery pack in 15 hours from 10%.
Regarding energy consumption, we managed a decent 24.6 kWh/100 km (2.5 mile/kWh), which is slightly worse than the worst WLTP test result (24 kWh/100 km or 2.6 mile/kWh). Still, it was cold weather, we had to use heating, and we ran at highway speeds. Furthermore, the off-road and 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) launches also affected the overall energy consumption.
Mercedes-Benz used intensive research to produce a flagship SUV that can stand proudly in front of the crowd. It’s not the sportiest version (that title goes to the AMG version) and its performance is quite impressive for such a big vehicle. Nevertheless, it’s not a sportscar, but it can keep up with many on a 0-100 kph sprint. Still, it’s not made for that. It’s a high-rider luxobarge that can cover long distances on a single charge. In addition, if you’re using the smart planner incorporated into its navigation system, the car will calculate when and where to stop on the way so you won’t run out of juice.
Sure, it’s not the right car to do a cannonball run, but it will do just fine for school runs, weekly shopping, and even camping. Its relaxed ride and gazillion features make it luxurious, and it comes at a steep price. But you’re not paying just for the three-pointed star badge. You also get technology and advanced engineering. Something like you’d expect a 120+ years old luxury carmaker to provide, and a two-decade-old tech company that creates EVs can’t.
– Excellent aerodynamic
– Comfortable, well-designed interior
– Energy efficiency
– Trunk space
– Steep price
– Complicated infotainment system
– It feels heavy on the road
– No USB ports
– No frunk