You’re looking at the new flagship of the electric Mercedes EQ range; the EQS SUV. As the name suggests, it’s a larger, taller version of the already massive EQS saloon, and promises to pack all the luxury of the ICE-powered Sonderklasse in a larger, SUV body.
Is it one of the best electric SUVs you can buy in 2023? That goes without saying. But is it a true representation of Mercedes luxury, and is it any better than its limousine-shaped cousin? We’ve driven both the 536bhp Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV 580 4Matic and lesser powered 450 model to find out.
Mercedes EQS SUV review: how does it drive?
You won’t mistake this for anything but an electric Mercedes: its smooth grille replacing historical air intakes, soap-bar aero bodywork and brand familiarity. It looks good, inside and out. The materials used throughout are luxurious and well put together. It feels like a proper Merc should and isn’t it a relief we can say that after the wilderness years of wobbly quality?
Like most EVs, performance when you prod the accelerator is immediate and substantial. But full ‘throttle’ does not last – find a long straight, sink your right foot to the floor and the boost is sudden and severe, yet fades after about 10 seconds.
Asked nicely, the new Merc ESQ SUV 580 will whoosh silently in 4.6sec from 0-62mph and on to a top speed of 131mph – that’s only half a second less brisk than the EQS saloon. Blame the bigger frontal area and extra mass.
While the middle-ranking 450 4Matic does the job in six seconds flat, the entry-level 450+ loses another squealing seven tenths during take-off.
Charging, battery specs
Our two-day test drive in speed-restricted North America suggests a range of 250 to 300 miles for the more powerful model is realistic, while the average waiting time at a 200kW charger is half an hour – that’s okay, but not nearly as quick as the 800-volt rivals from Korea.
Air suspension and rear-wheel steering are part of the package, but note that the pop-up third row of seats, which shrinks the luggage space to a token 195 litres, is an option. With only the first row of seats upright, boot space is a colossal 2100 litres.
The EQS SUV’s steering is on the light side, but it makes the big car feel smaller, and there is no artificial flavouring in the software pie. The brakes are grabby at first, pedal travel is long and mushy under pressure, and the effort over the final 50 yards is not exactly premium either.
Ride and handling
In the UK, the EQS SUV feels more solid, rigid and better than the standard EQS – possibly thanks to the extra 215kg weight penalty over the EQS saloon – but there are still issues. Things are not perfect in the EQS SUV, especially when compared to the fossil-fuel S-class or the electric BMW iX SUV – a director competitor to this car.
Simply put, the EQS SUV feels refined until you remind yourself of the S-class’ perfectly sprung ride. After that, you notice the lumps and very occasional jolt through the SUV’s plush seats, and the entire experience is one notch down from the usual flagship experience.
A harder ride is a caveat of most EVs right now, but the BMW iX somehow navigates the extra weight whilst still providing a slightly more refined ride. Much like the iX, though, the EQS SUV sidesteps a lot of the excessive roll, yaw or pitch you’d expect from a car this size.
The new Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV hides its considerable heft remarkably well. Handling is as failsafe as can be when 2735kg of weight and up to 633lb ft of forward thrust arrive jointly at the force times distance T-junction.
Hairpins are a hoot, thanks to rear-wheel steering and the chassis somehow conspires to make you forget you’re driving a tip-toe-tall SUV.
This is a studiously clever car, with the very latest semi-autonomous systems that Daimler can muster. The auto-steer capability in Level 2+ mode is actually quite impressive.
You can also tow with this electric car: Mercedes quotes a 750kg payload.
The EQS SUV looks and feels better resolved than the saloon version of the EQS, although whether you’d prefer this over the similarly priced but quicker BMW iX M60 depends on how you weigh up the BMW being only a five-seater. In all other respects, Munich’s electric SUV pulls ahead of this car; it’s slightly more special inside – Hyperscreen or not – it feels more agile, and the ride is more refined, too.
There’s lots going for the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV: we love the the oodles of torque and the all-pervading quality and overall class. Inside and out, this displays the quality levels the EQS should’ve had.
Yes, it’s expensive – and we suspect many CAR readers will loathe the over-complex interior. But unlike the EQS saloon, the SUV feels like the Mercedes finished product.