The gold standard meets electric motors in the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS luxury sedan. It has taken a full decade for the brand most synonymous with luxury to join the fight for EV supremacy, but the wait looks to have been worth it. As you’d expect from Mercedes, the cabin technology is cutting-edge, while the interior appointments look lush enough to make many a Tesla Model S shopper think twice. Just don’t expect Tesla-topping acceleration yet — that’s a job for the upcoming AMG performance variant.
What took you so long?
A lot has happened, to put it mildly, since Tesla supercharged the EV scene by releasing the Model S sedan in 2012. But luxury automakers have only recently begun to respond with serious shots over Tesla’s bow. That allowed the Model S to sit virtually unopposed in the electric executive sedan space for years. Things are starting to change, however. Porsche launched the Taycan sedan in 2020, and Audi is poised to join the fray later this year with the closely related e-tron GT. The latest member of the “better late than never” club is the 2022 EQS, which looks to trump them all with its emphasis on modern luxury over outright driving performance.
Putting the “luxury” in luxury electric car
The Model S was always kind of a hard sell as a luxury sedan. Yeah, it has a six-figure price tag, and its performance is unimpeachable. But take a step inside its cabin, and you might be underwhelmed. The layout is minimalist to an extreme, with few adornments to accompany the central touchscreen and digital instrument panel. With the exception of the air suspension, HEPA filters and 22-speaker audio system, there aren’t many features here that you couldn’t also find in many modern automobiles.
The EQS is a different beast entirely. Its name suggests it’s an electrified version of the recently redesigned S-Class sedan, and while that technically isn’t the case — the EQS is closer to an E-Class in exterior size — the two vehicles share a similarly styled interior and some features. Both sport a line of exotic trim and upholstery options, use ambient lighting strips extensively throughout the cabin, and feature rear-axle steering that points the rear wheels the opposite way at low speeds to reduce the turning circle. The two models also offer some nifty upgrades in common, including deeper personalization options with the MBUX infotainment system and a head-up display that can virtually project navigation instructions onto the lanes you need to enter.
It’s at this point that the EQS takes a hard left turn from normalcy. While the S-Class uses a low-mounted tablet touchscreen, the EQS says “hold my beer” and makes the entire dashboard one massive screen. The Hyperscreen, as it’s called, spans the width of the vehicle. It incorporates three screens — a digital instrument panel, a typical central screen, and another touchscreen in front of the passenger.
The Hyperscreen drives home the impression that Mercedes isn’t taking this EV lightly. Rather, the automaker is looking to make a splash, underscored by goodies including remote door opening and closing, illuminated seat surrounds, backlit trim elements, and several engineered audio tracks that play while the vehicle is accelerating to compensate for the lack of traditional engine hum. Mercedes knows luxury like perhaps no other brand, and it looks like the EQS will leverage this knowledge to separate itself from other upscale EVs.
The EQS will be faster than the Model S, right?
Hold your horses, slick. Mercedes’ new luxe EV starts in the EQS 450+ trim. A single motor powers the rear wheels and develops 329 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The EQS 580 4Matic is the all-wheel-drive version, and it puts out a that’s-more-like-it 516 hp and 611 lb-ft. Mercedes says the EQS 450+ will cover 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds, while the EQS 580 cuts that to 4.1 seconds.
Great stuff, but Tesla says the Model S can make the same run in less than 2 seconds. Although we’ve found that Tesla tends to quote optimistic acceleration times, Edmunds’ most recently tested 2020 Model S Performance sprinted to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. Buyers looking for the ultimate electric luxury sedan from a performance standpoint might have to wait until the rumored AMG version of the EQS launches. We hear Mercedes is targeting more than 600 horsepower, which it will need to break that 3-second barrier.
What about driving range per charge?
Sadly, an apples-to-apples range comparison between the EQS and Model S won’t happen for a little while. The current Model S Performance (the only 2021 Model S to be rated by the EPA as of this writing) delivers up to 387 miles of driving range per EPA estimates, while Tesla says the Long Range version, due later this year, will offer 412 miles of range. The biggest news is the Plaid+ version, for which Tesla projects north of 520 miles of range when it is released in mid-2022.
As for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS, it hasn’t been rated by the EPA yet, though it does carry a range estimate of up to 478 miles per the European WLTP testing standard. Historically, WLTP ratings have been considerably more optimistic than EPA ratings, though some of Edmunds’ own real-world range results have ended up closer to WLTP estimates than to those published by the EPA. In short, there’s no clear answer on EQS range at this juncture, but we look forward to testing the EQS on our driving loop as soon as Mercedes can make one available.
It took nearly a decade, but Mercedes-Benz is finally entering the executive EV sedan market. The upcoming EQS is seemingly loaded with more luxury and tech features than any vehicle this side of a Rolls-Royce. It could end up being the truest vision yet of a luxury electric car. Just press pause on that plan to challenge a Model S at the drag strip.