In the world of top-end electric vehicles, brands are locked in a battle of one-upmanship, offering their wealthy buyers more, more, more. As a result, is the EQS 53 4Matic+ all a bit much?
The times, they are a-changing at Mercedes-Benz. Its local website now reflects the move to an agency model, one which does away with the salesperson and the ability to strike a deal, replacing it with a non-negotiable price for all of its models. It’s a bit more complex than the likes of Honda and Toyota, who also run the agency model, given there are more variants and options to consider with Benz. However, there is a set base price for all models with the ability to specify your ride with the options you desire. And you can do all this online, right through to the purchasing process.
Some models are affected by lengthy delays while others you can’t seem to order at all, such is the uncertainty around production and delivery in the 2020s. To counter this, you can browse all the available stock that Benz has on the ground in NZ, ready for delivery. There are plenty of the key models to choose from, with the popular options fitted, listed with the buy-now price, including on roads and financing options.
Of those listed models more of them are now battery powered. The EQ movement started slowly with the EQC and the EQA, but has ramped up in the past year; now there are EQ models with S, E, B and V suffixes, along with a pair of new EQS and EQE SUVs. It’s the EQS we have here on test. In NZ, this is only available in full, over-the-top AMG 53 guise with an excess of power and an equally large sticker price; a massive $310,900.20. Yes, some of Benz online pricing is down to the last cent. Guess the penny pinching helps as M-B recently posted Q3 earnings of €5.2 billion. All on-road costs are included in the new agency model, though exclude any clean car fees. But, as this is electric, it’s one of the few cars with 480 plus kay dubs that won’t have you paying extra. Most others with those figures will be lumped with the full $5175 in bad gas tax.
The EQS is not new new, the first of them arriving here in May, and so far eight have been registered. Given the price (and the fact there is an EQS SUV around the corner), this will only ever be a rarity.
It has an excess of everything with two motors delivering 484kW and 950Nm. Add the AMG Dynamic Plus package for $7690 and you’ll get even more, with 560kW and 1080Nm during spurts of all-out attack. These are energised by a whopping great 107kWh battery pack, which contributes to a claimed kerb weight of 2721kg. It’s a big car this, the EQS measuring 5.2m long and nearly 2m in width. As such, it is an imposing machine, especially in black with its LED and chrome highlights, and those 21s are simply outrageous. As is the interior concept.
The hyper(bole) screen that is plastered across the entire dash is a bad case of one-upmanship. But blame the Chief Twit, he started it. Our main gripe is the added reflections the shiny surfaces generate; there’s a constant flickering in your peripheral vision. The large central screen is bold and quick acting, its size allowing for large touchpoints that are easier to tap on the go. And so most functions are accessed quickly (and there are so many of them), or you can use the voice help. The climate control has its own set of ‘always on’ buttons for ease of use.
You don’t have the best outward view from the driver’s seat, as the dash is set high, and so too the belt line. It’s therefore hard to place when manoeuvring about and so you rely heavily on the surround camera in the car park. The EQS has a large footprint with an extended wheelbase but the fitment of rear steer as standard helps trim the turning circle to a more manageable 11.5m. But still the width and length are immense. The side mirrors are small too in the pursuit of a 0.23 Cd figure.
There’s limo-like legroom in the rear, and an easy-enough entry, but the seat itself is firm, the squab not quite long enough to afford genuine lounging comfort. The boot is accessed via a large hatch, the space beneath wide and long which looks to be tailor made for the golf fanatics.
The EQS rides on air springs but don’t expect true S-Class progress as they have an AMG tune and have to control massive wheels. AMG has also improved various suspension components to favour dynamics over supreme ride comfort. The air springs can raise the ride height to help negotiate iffy-looking driveways.
There’s always an abundance of effortless shove, the driveline particularly refined, the ride quiet with little in the way of tyre rumble thanks to foam-filled rubber. You can add synthetic noise if you want, but why? As to efficiency, expect an average of around 23-24kWh/100km for your usual mix of urban and motorway-type commuting. That’ll net you between 470-500km in terms of real world range.
You can set your energy recuperation from zero to strong, the latter enabling one-pedal type driving. We preferred the Intelligent setting, where it self-regulates from zero to strong according to your speed (using road sign recognition and sat nav data) and the traffic ahead (using the same tech that enables active cruise). Indicate to turn down a side street and, using map data, it will start slowing in anticipation of the turn. This is much easier than paddling through the different settings yourself.
There’s so much oomph on offer that the needle of the power dial rarely ventures past the 30 per cent mark in everyday driving. And once at speed, you’re using just five per cent of the available power to maintain 50km/h, and 10 per cent on the motorway. Our average speed for our week driving this was 37km/h, so rarely do you use all that excess power.
But when you do, it’s sure to impress your cronies, and might even convince them to give up their V8. Dialling up the Sport plus mode, stomping on the brake pedal and mashing the throttle activates Race Start. Cue a comical noise, like you have just reached a new level on Donkey Kong, and once you release the brake, 2.7 tonnes is jettisoned down the road, hitting 100km/h in 3.6sec. All without drama too, though your neck muscles sure feel the strain from that thrust.
In the Sport mode, the power delivery is intensified further and the torque hits even harder. The way this hauls itself off a bend is ridiculous when you consider its size and mass. With a low C of G, wide tracks and big paws, it can generate serious Gs in the bends too. Photographer Tom wondered why there wasn’t better bolstering for the passenger seat to keep him from sliding about. There’s little in the way of tyre slip at either end, the centralised weight and deft brake nipping keeping the nose tidy while traction is maintained via variable torque deployment and imperceptible motor control. It turns diligently too, the steering well weighted and the rear steer helps it nip into slow bends, while aiding stability in quicker ones (the rear wheels point in the same direction as the fronts above 60km/h, effectively lengthening the wheelbase). You’re impressed by its utter competency initially, but its point and squirt character soon wears thin. And it can’t disguise its weight. While the braking hardware is immense, they have a hard task trying to arrest such mass at speed. The pedal feel is inconsistent with its mix of electric recuperation and the hydraulic brakes; it’s initially soft, then rock hard. And it’s a true AMG in that it hoovers up the available energy, the average consumption spiking up into the 30kWh/100km range.
When it comes to refill, you’re best to buy the AC wall box ($2810 plus install) to top the battery every few nights. This can refill a dead battery in 17hrs vs 55hrs for the three-pin plug (which can only add about 15 per cent charge overnight). It can take DC charge rates up to 200kW.
So should you opt for this over a conventional S-Class? If you are after more of a luxury experience, no. The real S is easier, more pampering, relaxing. A pity we only get the OTT AMG 53 version; it’s all a bit much, and a one-dimensional performance car. The ‘regular’ EQS is probably the better option, but then with the SUV version around the corner, buyers are probably waiting for that.
|Model||Mercedes-AMG EQS 53|
|Clean Car Discount||Neutral – $0|
|Drivetrain||single-speed auto, e-AWD|
|Stability systems||ABS, ESP, TV|
|Safety||AEB, ACC, BSM, LDW, |
RCTA, ALK, AHB
|Tow rating||not rated to tow|
|Service intervals||3 years, unlimited km|
|Warranty||5yrs, unlimited km|
|ANCAP rating||not yet rated|