2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS second drive review: The S-Class of EVs

The all-electric EQS sedan showcases a level of luxury and technology that can't really be matched by any of its competitors.

The Mercedes-Benz EQS is pure electric luxury.
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The all-new 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS -- the automaker's fully electric flagship sedan -- has finally arrived here in the States. After my colleagues' outings in a preproduction prototype and then in a European-spec example, I've finally had my turn behind the wheel of both the production-ready EQS450 Plus and the EQS580 4Matic on my home turf around the San Francisco Bay Area to learn more about the real-world range, the performance and that massive Hyperscreen display.

Up to 350 miles per charge

The EQS comes in two flavors based around the electric powertrain. The EQS450 Plus features a single motor that twists the rear wheels with 329 horsepower and 419 pound-feet of torque, good enough for a 5.9 second 0-60 mph sprint. Upgrading to the EQS580 4Matic adds a second motor on the front axle and steps up to a combined 560 hp and 631 lb-ft of all-wheel driven torque. With both motors silently singing, the EQS580 will glide from stopped to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds on its way to the 130-mph top speed -- not Plaid quick, but this is a larger, heavier and much more luxurious vehicle.

Both EQS configurations feature the same 107.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack beneath the passenger compartment. The single-motor EQS450 will cruise for an EPA-estimated 350 miles per charge. The dual-motor range only drops to 340 miles thanks to its increased regeneration capabilities and intelligent use of its asymmetrical motors -- I was surprised to see how often the EQS' display indicated front-wheel drive operation, using only the smaller motor to cruise and coast along at city speeds. That respectable range, all things considered, but also significantly lower than the 400-mile mark we initially expected based on the European WLTP numbers. For now, Tesla's 405-mile Model S is still the gold-standard when it comes to range -- at least, until the 520-mile Lucid Air gets here.

My day in the EQS580 4Matic began with around a 90% charge and 318 miles on the gauge. I returned to base after 107 miles driven with 52% left in the pack, which puts my efficiency a touch lower than the stated estimate, but also not too bad for a day of fairly aggressive acceleration tests and sporty driving on mountain roads.

The EQS can be rapidly charged to 80% -- around 270 miles -- in just 31 minutes.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

I didn't need to plug-in the EQS, but it's capable of up to 200-kilowatt DC fast charging, boosting from 10% to 80% state of charge in just 31 minutes. At a slower Level 2 charging station or home wall box, a full 10% to 100% charge stretches to around 11 hours and 15 minutes. The EQS also features a Green Charging mode that limits the peak plug-in charge rate to 100 kW and the maximum state of charge to 80%, which extends and preserves the lifespan of the battery versus full-speed rapid charging.

Plug and charge with Mercedes Me

EV owners all know the annoyance of having to maintain multiple accounts for the multiple charging networks. Mercedes hopes to simplify that process with the Mercedes Me Charge system -- a fully integrated payment system built into the car. After locating a charging station with the onboard nav, simply plug in and the EQS will automatically communicate with the station over the charging cable, authenticating and handling payment from your Mercedes Me account without the need to reach for your wallet or phone. Mercedes also says that using the Green Charging mode at public stations on the Mercedes Me Charging network also guarantees that providers will feed an equivalent amount of electricity from renewable sources into the grid where available.

The Mercedes Me Charging backend is powered via a partnership with Chargepoint which means that it's compatible with more than 60,000 chargers nationwide from Chargepoint, EVgo, Electrify America and more with plans to bring more networks online over time. Mercedes is even including unlimited free 30-minute charging sessions -- enough to get you to that 80% mark -- at Electrify America's over 2,600 rapid DC chargers for the first two years of ownership.

Electric Sound Experiences

The EQS is naturally near silent thanks to the quiet electric motors, the S-Class levels of sound isolation and the world record 0.20 drag coefficient. For those who prefer to hear their car on the road, the automaker has designed two electronically generated Sound Experiences -- Silver Waves and Vivid Flux -- that make use of the audio system to fill the cabin with 'engine' sounds. 

Silver Wave sounds sort of like a deep-throated V8, while Vivid Flux is a higher-pitched sci-fi tone. The generated sound reacts to the EQS' performance, rising in volume with pedal pressure and in octave with speed. Both also feature unique "engine braking" sounds when quickly decelerating. Yes, the Sound Experiences are a touch gimmicky, but if like me you grew up driving with your ears -- listening to the sound of the engine to gauge speed and shift points -- adding this audio feedback layer to the EQS feels very natural. Mercedes plans to eventually offer a third theme, Roaring Pulse, that replicates the sporty AMG audio signature via over-the-air download later. Of course, you can also totally deactivate the Sound Experiences and enjoy the remarkably quiet ride.

Powerfully awkward brakes

The regenerative braking system is remarkable for its up to 290 kW recuperation capacity for the dual motor EQS580. (The EQS450's single motor tops out at a still-impressive 186 kW regen.) Three static regen modes are selectable via the EQS' paddle shifters, ranging from almost free-coasting to heavy-deceleration on lift. A fourth Auto Regen mode -- accessed by holding the paddle shifter for a few seconds -- constantly adjusts the regeneration based on your selected route. On the highway, it'll coast more freely and in slow traffic you'll recoup more energy on lift. 

The regenerative braking system is both powerful and extremely customizable.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

By default, the EQS will creep forward from a stop when you lift the brake pedal in all regen modes, but that behavior can also be toggled in an onscreen menu. With maximum regen and no creep, the sedan approaches that one-pedal driving feel I've come to love in other EVs, but doesn't quite pull it off. You'll still need to actually depress the left pedal to bring the EQS to a full stop.

I never quite got comfortable with the EQS' brake feel during more spirited backroad driving. The pedal itself actually moves quite a bit when lifting into heavy regeneration, pre-depressing itself in preparation to transition from regen to friction braking. The idea is that your foot and the pedal will already be in the right place for more predictable deceleration and, around town, this works well enough. However during sporty driving, it ironically has the opposite effect and makes it more difficult to gauge how much stop you'll get for a given amount of toe pressure. Reducing the regen level helps by relying more on the friction brakes overall, but that means wasting energy (and range.)

I understand that I shouldn't expect to be able to drive a luxo-barge like a sports car, but this is "the S-Class of EVs," so a bit more refinement and consistency across the available modes would be nice. That's not to say the brakes are bad; they're certainly up to the job. I experienced a very real 45 mph emergency stop to avoid a deer emerging from the woods just a few car lengths ahead and the EQS hauled all of its 5,888 pounds of luxury to a stop on a dime without drama or incident.

Standard 10-degree rear-wheel steering

Every EQS comes standard with Mercedes-Benz's rear-wheel steering, which is able to turn the rear wheels up to 10-degrees to reduce the turning radius. This is an impressive amount of rear-countersteer that makes tight U-turns a breeze and improves low-speed agility. It's also fun to watch the rear wheels wiggle when parallel parking. At speed, the rear-wheels turn in concert with the fronts, improving stability during lane changes.

Air suspension is also standard, adjusting ride height and firmness depending on the selected driving mode. Overall, EQS feels like a heavier S-Class, balancing excellent isolation from bumps and imperfections in the road in its Comfort setting with a good amount of feedback via the large steering wheel when set to Sport. It's just as happy to glide like a magic carpet over potholes as it is to hustle up twisty roads. 

However, the extra 800 pounds of mass are tough to ignore when cornering, particularly during downhill segments. And so, despite the railgun acceleration the electric motors are capable of in the straights, the EQS' overall performance leans more towards comfort than its combustion-powered analogue and rewards a more poised driving style.

The EQS' cabin is a delightful place, especially with the massive Hyperscreen displays.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

About that Hyperscreen

I'm not a fan of the EQS' exterior design. I think it's much too anonymous looking and the minimalist cab-forward design gives the appearance of an economy car from most angles. (That's probably why the designers felt the need to tack those "EQS" badges onto the sail panels ahead of the side mirrors.)

That said, I can't praise the interior design enough. Whether rocking the 12.8-inch Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) display -- the same as the current S-Class -- for the base EQS450 models or with the 56-inch Hyperscreen that comes standard on the EQS580 4Matic (also optional for the EQS450), the EQS' cabin is a delightful place to be with high-quality materials, luxurious creature comforts and almost too much tech to discover.

The Hyperscreen is actually three OLED displays bonded to a single, curved glass panel that stretched from pillar-to-pillar across the dashboard. At the center is a 17.7-inch display which is flanked by a pair of smaller screens -- one serving as the digital instrument cluster and the other as a screen for the front passenger.

The 12.3-inch instrument cluster is nearly identical to that of the conventional S-Class. It's controlled via the left bank of capacitive steering wheel buttons and can be swiped to toggle between the map or various themes. Here is also where you'll interact with the EQS's massive augmented reality head-up display.

Now playing: Watch this: Hands-on with Mercedes' Hyperscreen display in the EQS

The central screen is home to the MBUX Zero layer infotainment concept. This simplified interface fills the screen with an always-visible map with floating shortcuts to various functions along the lower edge. Up to three of these shortcuts are conditional  AI-selected buttons displayed based on the driver's habits, the car's GPS location, whether the EQS is parked or moving and the time of day. So, if you always call your partner at 5pm when leaving work on weekdays, the EQS will notice that and begin to display a shortcut to that contact when you start the car at that time. If you usually raise the ride height at your steep driveway, that prompt will appear as you approach home. Drop into park and a button to open the trunk may appear. The idea is that, over time, you'll never have to leave the home screen to access whatever function you may need.

The suggestions are tied to your Mercedes Me driver profile and up to seven profiles can be stored onboard at a time. Drivers can log into their profile automatically with their key fob, protect their account with a PIN or streamline security using a combination of biometric fingerprint, facial or voice recognition. Mercedes tells me that all of its AI suggestions are generated with the hardware built into the EQS' dashboard and that none of that data goes into the cloud. That also means that if you're lucky enough to own two EQSes, your suggestions may be different between the two cars. Drivers who'd prefer to do without a machine learning their habits can opt for a Classic interface with static shortcuts instead.

Users can log into their Mercedes Me user profile with biometric fingerprint, facial or voice recognition.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Since I only had one day behind the wheel with each trim level, I wasn't able to take full advantage of the AI suggestions, but I still found the main Hyperscreen interface to be very intuitive. Swiping down from the top presents more quick toggles for common features and a customizable bank of static shortcuts. Tapping the Home button brings up the familiar MBUX main menu with large icons for comfort options, navigation, vehicle and charging information and other submenus. Under the Apps menu, there are even games to keep the driver entertained while waiting for the EQS to charge, including a version of Tetris that can be played while parked using the steering wheel thumb controls. Plus, standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integrate nicely into the Hyperscreen interface.

"Pilot to copilot"

In front of the passenger is a smaller 12.3-inch touchscreen that displays a customizable static image when the seat is unoccupied. When the sensors detect a seated passenger, the screen comes alive and can be logged into with a second Mercedes Me profile to access an independent instance of the MBUX interface with its own navigation, comfort settings, apps and more. The passenger can select their own audio source and listen on a paired set of Bluetooth headphones or cue up music for the rest of the cabin. 

The Hyperscreen's third display makes the passenger a true copilot.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Beyond just entertaining the passenger, the second screen makes the person riding shotgun a true copilot. For example, I could ask my passenger to search for a destination or charging station and they could send what they find back to the main screen while I focus on the very important business of, you know, driving. The passenger can also adjust the vehicle temperature, change the cabin comfort settings or access any other infotainment function without disturbing the driver or changing their screen. 

And yes, I could do almost all of this myself with "Hey Mercedes" voice commands -- which allow me to simply speak to the car and ask it to adjust the temperature, tune to a satellite radio station or find the nearest charging station instantly -- but sometimes a human can simply do more than a machine and any edge you can get to reduce driver's distraction is a good one.

The S-Class of EVs

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS450 Plus starts at $103,360, including a $1,050 destination charge, for the base Premium trim which is already ridiculously well-equipped with the full Mercedes driver assistance suite, leather and wood trim, Burmester audio, rear-wheel steering and more. Stepping up to the dual-motor EQS580 4Matic Premium with the Hyperscreen starts at $120,160.

From there you have the Exclusive spec -- $106,760 for the EQS450 and $123,560 for the EQS580 -- with improved front seats with massage and four-zone climate control. At the top of the line are the $109,560 EQS450 and $126,360 EQS580 Pinnacle models that step up rear seat comfort with power adjustment, heating and ventilation and a more fully featured center armrest. The EQS begins arriving in US dealerships in fall 2021.

I appreciate the aerodynamics behind the EQS' design, but I also think it's too anonymous looking.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Obviously, the EQS' very existence as an electric sedan will draw comparisons with the Tesla Model S which boasts better performance and range, both on paper and in the real world. If range and 0-60 are all that you care about, then yes, the Tesla is a better bargain. However, this is more of an electric option for eco-conscious high-luxury shoppers rather than Benz's answer to the premium Model S proletariat -- there's some overlap, but this is a very different kind of electric car for a very different kind of driver.

The EQS showcases a level of luxury and technology that, despite the numbers or specs, puts it in a class above. And for now, that really can't be matched by any of its competitors.

Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.