Big, luxury limos and SUVs have long since isolated drivers and, more pertinently, passengers from the intrusions of the outside world. When you start dropping the name S Class into the conversation, you know you’re talking about the crem de la crem of the sector, too. How else would Kendall Roy be escorted from one meeting to the next? Listening to rap music in the back of an S Class, of course. Taking in that Burmester sound system, incubated from the reality of New York. It’s how the Roys travel in Succession, with only Logan appearing in a Maybach in a sign of dominance in the show’s more subtle margins. The world, however, is changing. Will the rich and famous embrace the Mercedes EQS – Mercedes’ electrified answer to its own limo powerhouse – in the same way as the S Class?
It’s worth pondering on the success of the S Class for a moment. It has been almost the definitive luxury limo, selling more units than the BMW 7 series and Audi A8 combined. It has been a massive hit for Mercedes down the years. But the world is changing and the march of electrification shows no sign of abating. At least in the UK, that is. The US and China have shown no intent thus far to ban the internal combustion engine.
With smooth rides and progressive performance, however, electrification should naturally lend itself to this sector. You could swap the engine for a battery in most S Class models and not notice the difference. Silent, comfortable, effortless; electric propulsion ticks all the boxes.
What’s the Mercedes EQS like to drive?
With that in mind, let’s jump straight into the driving experience. The Mercedes EQS is a big car, but equipped will all manner of tech that makes it shrink around you. Rear wheel steering, where the rear wheels turn up to 10-degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts, mean you can turn this behemoth on a sixpence. Throw in a remarkably good self-parking system and there aren’t many situations in which you’re stressed.
The model tested is the Mercedes EQS 450+. It produces 328bhp from its 120kWh battery. This propels it from 0-62mph in 6.2secs. That’s impressive if not head turning, especially for an EV. If you want lunacy, of course you can have it: the Mercedes EQS AMG 53 will tick off the sprint in 3.8secs. You need an awful lot of power to get north of 2500kg moving.
I must admit, I’m unsure why you’d want the extra shove. Absolutely nothing about the Mercedes EQS screams all out attack. It’s a pipe and slippers type car. Settle in, embrace the technology and enjoy your journey.
During my week with the Mercedes EQS I took it to Sheffield with some friends for the weekend. On the motorway, it’s a supreme machine. The miles are devoured effortlessly and serenely. As day turns to night, the ambient lighting kicks in and you always feel cosseted. The driver assistance system is first rate, holding the Mercedes EQS perfectly between the lines of the road. Usually, you’d scramble to disable such a system, but the Mercedes EQS integrates the technology impressively into the driving experience.
This is where the Mercedes EQS is at home, doing the mundane. Commuting into London? You won’t mind a bit of traffic. Cruising on the motorway? All day long.
What’s the Mercedes EQS like to live with?
As with all EVs which don’t being with ‘T’, public charging remains an issue. The Mercedes EQS, however, does possess a decent range. Across 522 miles of driving, I achieved 359Wh/mile, which equates to 2.8 miles p/kWh, which equates to a range of 336 miles. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a more than useful real-world range.
Right, let’s get into the tech. The Mercedes EQS has it in abundance. From the self-driving and parking elements, to setting the seat position for you based on your height, there are plenty of interesting features. To change the wing mirrors, you merely look at them and the Mercedes EQS knows which one you want to change. Want to open the sunroof? Just ask it. At night, if you reach across to the vacant passenger seat to access the glovebox or something, it turns the interior light on for you, switching it off as soon as you withdraw your arm. The reversing camera moves left and right as you steer, improving visibility when reversing out of spaces.
Then there’s the satnav. The Mercedes EQS as tested came equipped with the optional hyperscreen. It’s £8000. That’s a lot for an infotainment system, so it needs to be good. The screen basically spans the entire length of the dashboard, with a touchscreen for your passenger and a massive central display. At first, I found it overwhelming and gimmicky. Now I fear that no infotainment system will ever live up to it. Until the next best thing arrives.
The huge map contains several prompts, overlaying a camera ahead with directional arrows and road names so you don’t miss a turning. It works with the majestic head up display, too, with 3D arrows floating on the road ahead of you to show you the way.
You’re going to want that hyperscreen. In fact, it’s hard to see anyone specifying a Mercedes EQS without one. The Mercedes EQS Premium Line Plus starts at £119,000. Add in such options and you’re north of £130,000 very quickly. Luxury limos, however, have never been cheap. If you want tomorrow’s toys today, then you’ll have to put your hand in your pocket.
What you get, however, is something remarkably unremarkable. Limos have never been designed to standout and the Mercedes EQS is no exception. It has presence courtesy of its sheer heft, but understated looks which aren’t to everyone’s taste. It’s one of the most aerodynamic cars on sale today, though.
Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay it is the return journey from Sheffield. One comfortable, relaxed driver and three sleeping passengers. The Burmester sound system not blaring out rap but the dulcet tones of cricket commentary. All the occupants at peace with the world.
The Mercedes EQS may well be a technological tour de force, but it still does a remarkably good job of being a luxury limo. There are one or two foibles, the headrests are a little firm and the battery beneath you means your legs are a little higher than they would ordinarily be, but these are minor blemishes. Perhaps they’re significant in this space, but unless you go back-to-back with something comparable, you’re not going to notice.
I was unsure what to expect from the Mercedes EQS, but it impresses in myriad ways. There’s the luxury feel to the ride and steering and the brilliant integration of technology. It’s a fantastic signpost towards an electric future. It ticks all the boxes that a luxury limo needs to tick.