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2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS first drive review: A true sport sedan

The first fully electric car out of Affalterbach is a damn good time.

The EQS luxury sedan is AMG's first EV

Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes is planning to go all-electric by 2030, and that includes its AMG performance arm. A bespoke AMG electric platform is coming in a couple years, but AMG's first fully electric production car is already here. The Mercedes-AMG EQS is based on Benz's flagship electric luxury sedan, and after taking it from Palm Springs to Los Angeles via some incredible roads, I can assure you that AMG's absurd goodness is present and accounted for in this EV.

Like the EQS580, the AMG EQS has an electric motor at each axle, but the AMG's motors are unique. They have new actuators, windings and inverters with new software, as well as stronger currents. AMG says these modifications mean the EQS' motors have higher rotational speeds for more power, and the rear motor specifically has a six-phase design with "a particularly powerful magnetic field." All of this adds up to a total of 649 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, increases of 133 hp and 69 lb-ft over the EQS580.

That's just in regular driving, though. Activate the car's Race Start launch control function and output is boosted to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft, which means the EQS is the most powerful series production car AMG has ever produced. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph is achieved in 3.4 seconds, and the instant acceleration is way more savage than in the regular EQS models. It's exactly the kind of acceleration you expect from an AMG.

The AMG EQS has up to 751 horsepower.

Mercedes-AMG

AMG didn't just stick a couple of more powerful motors in the EQS and call it a day, though. The Slippery and Sport Plus drive modes are new, and AMG's engineers aimed for a bigger difference in driving characteristics between all the settings. The cooling system has been upgraded, allowing for repeated acceleration runs with no decrease in performance, and in Sport and Sport Plus modes the cooling system is activated sooner and its capacity is increased. Every component of the adaptive air suspension that affects driving dynamics is unique to AMG, from the control arms and motor mounts to the subframe and rear axle beam. The brakes are larger with six-piston calipers up front, and huge carbon-ceramic rotors are optional.

The battery pack's 107.8-kilowatt-hour capacity is the same as what's in the regular EQS, but the AMG has different wiring and a new battery management system that focuses on range in Comfort mode and max performance in Sport and Sport Plus. The EPA hasn't announced a range estimate yet, but when I get in the car with a full charge it shows a range of 337 miles.

Tootling around Palm Springs in its Comfort drive mode the AMG EQS just feels, well, like a regular EQS. Even on these 22-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport EV summer tires the AMG's ride quality is phenomenal, and it's silent inside. Off the line the AMG feels quicker than the EQS580 even under moderate acceleration, but you'd never guess there's so much power on tap -- until you floor it, anyway.

The interior has suede upholstery and carbon-fiber trim.

Mercedes-AMG

What really surprises me is how damn good the AMG EQS is when I get it on the mountain roads west of Palm Springs. The car comes alive when I put it into Sport Plus mode, feeling much more like a real sports sedan than an electric luxobarge.

There's still a bit of body roll but much less than in a regular EQS, and even in the stiffest setting the suspension is firm without ever being crashy or uncomfortable. The steering gets nice and heavy in Sport Plus mode, with more feedback than in the standard car. While the EQS580 has 10-degree rear steering the AMG's rear wheels will only turn up to 9 degrees -- blame the wider wheels -- but that's more than enough to make the EQS seriously nimble, especially around tight corners.

The AMG's all-wheel-drive system is fully variable, heavily biasing the torque toward the rear axle in the Sport drive modes. AMG says the system has much quicker responses than a traditional mechanical AWD setup, able to check and adjust the torque 10,000 times a minute. Combine that with the performance tires and rear-wheel steering and the AMG EQS rockets out of corners with ease. It has tons of grip in every situation, and there's never a moment where the car feels out of its league or incapable of going even faster.

My test car has the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, and the AMG EQS gets a new i-Booster that combines the hydraulic brakes with the car's electric regeneration system for much stronger deceleration, providing up to 300 kW of deceleration power. With the regen at its strongest setting I only have to physically hit the brakes a handful of times, but annoyingly the AMG has the same moving pedal as the regular EQS. Still, the brakes are a major improvement.

These wheels rule.

Mercedes-AMG

One crucial component of any AMG is the sound, and in that regard the EQS does not disappoint. Like the standard EQS there are a few different fake "engine" sounds that can be piped into the cabin, but the AMG has its own unique experience. There are three different soundscapes that can be tied to drive mode or toggled independently (or completely turned off), with the loudest setting, called Powerful, sounding like an Imperial landspeeder from Star Wars. It's freakin' cool, not at all like an internal combustion engine but interesting and engaging enough to satisfy even a die-hard enthusiast. The car also has unique AMG-developed sounds for the door locks, indicators and the welcome noise that greets you when you enter and turn on the car.

Styling differences between the AMG and regular EQS are minimal, which is fine. The black panel front "grille" gains vertical chrome slats in the style of the Panamericana grille found on gas-powered AMGs, and the EQS also gets a bigger rear spoiler, a slightly more intense rear diffuser and awesome aerodynamic 21- and 22-inch wheel designs. Mercedes says the AMG EQS' drag coefficient is 0.23, which is a little worse than the regular EQS' lowest figure, but still very slippery. The interior gets sportier bucket seats, aluminum pedals, a perforated steering wheel and AMG-branded floor mats. Black or gray suede upholstery with red contrasting stitching and carbon-fiber trim is standard, but you can get the AMG EQS with light-colored nappa leather and real wood trim, which really livens up the cabin.

As it sits at the top of the range, the AMG EQS comes standard with nearly every feature that's optional on the EQS450 and EQS580. It has the Hyperscreen infotainment system, which gets a number of sweet performance data pages and a "supersport" display style for the gauge cluster that looks straight out of a Marvel movie. Also included are basically every driver-assist feature you can think of, an augmented-reality head-up display, a heated windshield and windshield washers, heated rear seats, a Burmester 3D sound system, a panoramic sunroof and heated, ventilated and massaging front seats.

Pricing for the AMG EQS has yet to be released but it should come in at around $150,000 to start, putting it directly in competition with the $152,250 Porsche Taycan Turbo. The smaller Taycan is the better outright sport sedan, but the EQS more than holds its own while being much more luxurious inside. AMG's electric future is very, very bright, indeed.