Review: The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS is a very 'special' electric car

Before it started using that name in 1972, brand’s top model was known as the Sonderklasse, which is German for “Special Class,” denoting its position as the flagship of the fleet.

It’s been used as a showcase for the latest technologies including new engines, airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control, and the newest “S” follows in that tradition.

Not the redesigned S-Class that launched last year, but the EQS sedan that’s now in showrooms and is Mercedes-Benz’s first purpose-built electric car.

The EQS is the first purpose-built electric car from Mercedes-Benz

The EQS is the first purpose-built electric car from Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes-Benz)

The automaker has made other electric vehicles, but on platforms shared with internal combustion engine models. The EQS is the first built on a dedicated EV chassis that will spawn other lines in the years to come.

The EQS starts at $ 103,360, and no one would call that cheap, but it is around $ 9,000 less than the lowest-priced S-Class, and that’s before factoring in the $ 7,500 federal tax credit it qualifies for. An annual estimated fuel savings of $ 2,700 for a typical driver just keeps racking up the savings. You’ve got to have money to make money, as they say.

The EQS starts at $  103,360.

The EQS starts at $ 103,360. (Mercedes-Benz)

The two cars are similar in size, which is enormous, but the EQS has an entirely different look. It features a ‘cab-forward” design with a low sleek nose that flows into the windshield and over the roof to a hatchback rear end. The somewhat aquatic shape gives the EQS the lowest drag coefficient of any vehicle on sale today.

Aerodynamic efficiency is particularly important for electric cars as they need to stretch their electrons as far as they will go, due to how long it takes to recharge, even at the most powerful public stations.

The EQS is a four-door hatchback.

The EQS is a four-door hatchback. (Mercedes-Benz)

The EQS does do it quicker than many and can charge its 107-kilowatt-hour battery from 10% to 80% in as few as 31 minutes. All fast chargers slow down above 80% to avoid stressing the batteries too much, which can reduce their lifespan. A full charge on a 240-volt charger, like those used at home, is an 11-hour affair.

Filled to the brim, the entry-level 329 hp rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+ has an EPA rated range of 350 miles, while the 516 hp all-wheel-drive EQS 580 4Matic can make it 340 miles between charging stops at the equivalent of 95 mpg. My real-world test of the EQS 580 4Matic suggested the figures are fairly accurate, and anything above 300 miles per charge reduces “range anxiety” significantly.

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The EQS comes standard with an adaptive air suspension that gives it an almost eerily smooth ride on rough city streets plus a four-wheel-steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees in the opposite direction as the fronts at low speeds. This effectively “shrinks” the car by allowing it to make turns as tightly as a compact Mercedes-Benz A-Class. On the highway, the lane-centering radar cruise control locks the vehicle within the middle of the lines, but requires you to keep a hand touching the wheel.

The EQS is equipped with four-wheel steering.

The EQS is equipped with four-wheel steering. (Fox News Autos)

Despite its three-ton weight, the EQS 450+ can accelerate to 60 mph in six seconds and the EQS 580 4Matic needs just four. Holes in traffic are instantly filled when you hit the accelerator, which is accompanied by a choice of two computer-generated motor noises. One sounds more like a combustion engine, the other like a spaceship. Such enhancements are often unconvincing and annoying in many electric cars, but I never felt the need to look for an “off” button in the EQS. That’s good, because there isn’t one.

The Hyperscreen covers three digital displays.

The Hyperscreen covers three digital displays. (Mercedes-Benz)

The EQS also debuts Mercedes-Benz’s new Hyperscreen instrument panel. It’s a door-to-door single pane of glass that covers three digital displays. There’s the gauge cluster, a central touchscreen infotainment system and a secondary screen in front of the passenger that allows them to control several functions without having to reach all the way over to the middle of the dashboard.

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It is a stretch as the EQS is as spacious as a concert hall. All outboard passengers are provided with heated and cooled reclining seats and there’s a removable tablet in the fold-down rear center armrest that can be used to adjust the temperature, volume and do a couple of other things.

The EQS is as spacious as an S-Class.

The EQS is as spacious as an S-Class. (Mercedes-Benz)

The Hyperscreen generally works pretty well, but it and the other touch-sensitive controls on the front armrest and steering wheel are occasionally finicky to operate. The interior is also dressed in miles of LED strips and ambient lights that can be adjusted to any color or set to cycle through all of them, putting on a show worthy of an EDM festival, especially when the 15-speaker Burmeister surround sound audio system is cranked up.

Mercedes-Benz really went out of its way to make the EQS feel like the future and succeeded in creating a dazzling alternative to the sportier, but smaller Tesla Model S. You probably can’t afford one, but if history is any guide, a lot of what it has to offer will find its way into more affordable vehicles in the coming years.

In the meantime, considering the aggressive price point compared to the S-Class, and the fact that many of those are used as limousines and never stray too far from home, I think you can expect to see a lot of people who can afford it cruising around your downtown financial and nightlife districts in the EQS sooner than that.

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2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Base price: $ 103,360

Type: 5-passenger, 4-door, all-wheel-drive hatchback

Drivetrain: Dual electric motors

Power: 516 hp/631 lb-ft

Transmission: single-speed automatic

MPGe: 95 combined

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