Test Drive: Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC

With recycled materials wherever possible, this electric vehicle offers a compelling package

While it’s not the first Mercedes EV (the brand introduced battery-electric vehicles back in 1906), the new Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC is the first fully electric automobile to define itself as the future of the brand. As part of the carmaker’s Ambition 2039 initiative, Mercedes-Benz is aiming for its entire fleet of new cars to become completely carbon-neutral, and the EQS demonstrates how the brand is putting this idea into action. Beyond its lack of a tailpipe—and therefore tailpipe emissions—the EQS is built in a carbon-neutral factory, utilizing recycled materials where possible and select raw materials from certified sustainable sources.

It’s a compelling package, but not yet an equal of the incomparable Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The EQS is more an expression of tech rather than luxury. But for many, that may be the very thing that sets it apart.

Those who enjoy diving into tech specs will find a lot to love here. The EQS boasts an elegant, if not subtle, design. Tasteful LED lighting provides the only accent to the ‘90s-inspired “jellybean” exterior. But every aspect of this exterior has been thoughtfully considered to give it a drag coefficient of just 0.20 Cd—making the EQS the most aerodynamic production car in the world. This slippery shape allows the sedan to glide through the wind, helping boost the efficiency of its electrified powertrain.

In its top-spec the EQS provides plenty of power. The EQS 580 4MATIC Sedan features a 107.8 kWh rated at 516hp and 631 lb-ft of torque. Electric motors front and rear offer all-wheel drive, and Mercedes-Benz claims that the EQS can rocket from zero to 60mph in just 4.1 seconds. To emphasize Mercedes-Benz’s message of sustainability, when the battery pack reaches the end of its useful life in the EQS, it is designed to be upcycled into commercial power storage.

The larger tech story carries itself into the interior of the EQS as well. The first thing many will notice is the substantial, all-glass dashboard display, which extends the entire width of the cabin (an option in most models). Designed to look like one cohesive unit, it houses three individual high-resolution displays, with the center and passenger-side displays offering a deep level of touchscreen control. A center armrest-mounted, Android-powered Samsung tablet controls settings in the rear. Beyond the tablet-like features, the EQS 580 4MATIC’s cabin allows users to select from one of 64 different ambient lighting themes, uses HEPA filtration to monitor (and display) the level of outside particulates being filtered out from incoming air and features a 710-watt, 15-speaker Burmeister sound system.

This is in addition to the usual luxuries one would expect to find in an executive-class luxury sedan, such as an augmented reality heads-up display, heated and ventilated front and rear seats with massage functions, individualized climate settings and more.

In terms of the overall driving (or passenger) experience, it’s hard to find real fault with the EQS 580 4MATIC. The things typically associated with modern electric vehicles, such as the silent ride or instant acceleration, apply here. Rear wheel steering that can add up to 10 degrees of steering angle also helps make this large sedan easy to maneuver in tight spots as well.

But using typical car-related descriptions to define the event of riding in an EQS feels like a disservice—because it’s more akin to riding in a private jet than a car. Interior space is plentiful, with the seats offering endless levels of comfort. The Airmatic air-ride suspension allows the EQS to float over any road imperfections. And burying that accelerator pedal gives the EQS the forward thrust of a Gulfstream G700 on takeoff. It really is quite lovely.

With an as-tested MSRP north of $140,000, there are a few updates we hope for as the EQS progresses—both inspired by the current-generation S-Class. The leather seating, for example, isn’t as supple as it is in its S-Class sibling. And for added wow factor, we’d like to see the EQS adopt the three-dimensional, stereoscopic driver display from the S-Class as well. As it exists today, though, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC sedan is a phenomenal piece of technology and delivers a driving experience befitting of the brand. It proves that the carmaker didn’t just build an electric car—it built a Mercedes-Benz.

Images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

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