Review: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ in Malaysia - The best luxury EV yet
Shaun · Sep 5, 2022 04:07 PM
Progress. In simple terms, it means advancements that help make human lives easier, happier, or even longer. Having sampled the W223 Mercedes-Benz S580e, I realised the S-Class hasn’t made as much progress in the past decade as it did in the 90s.
Granted, it’s modernised but as far as the luxury experience goes - the plush interior, cocooned feeling, and magic carpet ride quality can be had even in the W220 S-Class that debuted in 1998. In fact, most modern features in cars today were already available in the W220, like radar-based adaptive cruise control and keyless entry/start system. It really was ahead of its time.
Today’s S-Class, the W223, does more of the same albeit in a flashier interior and sharper looks. What stood out for me about the W223 – specifically the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) S580e form - was the electric motor and how it enhanced the luxury experience. That, brings me on to the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS, essentially a reboot of the S-Class.
Based on the dedicated Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA) platform, the EQS doesn’t have to conform to the traditional design and packaging constraints of a combustion-engine platform.
Mercedes-Benz calls this “cab-forward fastback design with one-bow lines.” There are almost no creases on the body and every line flows with one another, creating a smooth design. Personally, I prefer clean designs so I can get behind the EQS’ clutter-free looks.
The real benefit of the smooth body is aerodynamics. Mercedes-Benz says the EQS is the world’s most aerodynamic production car with a drag coefficient of 0.20 Cd and it really does feel like it’s cutting through the air at highway speeds. But more on that in a moment.
Some have mentioned that it’s oddly proportioned because of its large green house area. Some also said that it lacks the presence or opulence of an S-Class. All valid opinions, but in terms of exterior, I would pick this over the “bold” BMW i7 any day of the week.
Interior – Best-looking interior of 2022? Possibly
If there’s one thing Mercedes-Benz has gotten right consistently in the past decade, it’s interior presentation. Design wise, I would say this is Mercedes-Benz’s most impressive interior yet. Just look at it, free of clutter with lines that flow like the exterior and feels nearly as plush as the S-Class.
The highlight is, of course, the massive screen named the MBUX Hyperscreen, stretching from A-pillar to A-pillar. In reality, it’s three OLED displays merged on a glass to create the effect of one large screen. To use, it’s just like other modern Mercedes-Benz that employs MBUX – crisp screens and easy-to-navigate UI with great graphics.
Daylight doesn’t flatter the massive glass panel as the bezels become obvious, so do dust and fingerprints. The graphics attempt to disguised the screen borders by creating a vignette effect on the edges, but there’s only much it can do under sunlight.
Come dusk, there’s no other interior I’d rather be in this side of a million Ringgit. The active ambient lighting and abundance of screens create such a uniquely pleasant ambiance.
Pain points? Well, it’s the same criticism as other current-generation Mercedes-Benz models – the capacitive buttons, they don’t feel as satisfying to click and it’s a hit-or-miss when it comes to swiping.
The dashboard is rather high and makes it a bit like looking through a letterbox, affecting visibility. Also, it’s a battle between a comfortable steering wheel position and a full view of the instrument display.
While it is close to the S-Class in terms of luxury features, it’s not there yet. There’s no soft-closing door, no sun blinds at the rear, and the rear seats aren’t quite as first-class without the leg rest.
Lastly, it could have been better packaged as an EV - there’s no front trunk or “frunk” but it has been shown that underneath the not-supposed-to-be-opened bonnet lies the massive HEPA filter, which is rather effective as there was no strange odour from the outside even without air recirculation.
At least the EQS has a hatchback-style tailgate that opens up with the rear window, making it more practical than the S-Class. It’s also much larger, rated at 610 litres compared to 330 litres in the S580e that is compromised by the battery pack.
Another area the EQS has an advantage over the S-Class is storage space, afforded by the absence of a transmission tunnel. There’s a floating-style centre console with double-deck storage solution, and the minimal protrusion on the floor means it’s a little less awkward for middle passengers at the rear.
Driving Experience – The current benchmark for refinement
EVs are generally smooth and quiet but it’s a whole new ball game in Mercedes-Benz EQS. Honestly, I can’t think of any other car under a million Ringgit with this level of refinement. The S-Class comes close, but there’s no escaping the presence of a combustion engine.
The straight-six engine in the S580e is generally smooth but you can feel it at idle and the transmission isn’t the smoothest out there. No such niggles in the EQS, it shows that the luxury experience can be enhanced by electric propulsion.
While 333 PS may not sound impressive for a car that weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes, there’s more than enough performance, especially when the full 565 Nm of torque available at any given moment.
More importantly, it’s well-calibrated and accelerates smoothly and precisely as your right foot commands. Even at triple-digit speeds, the acceleration doesn’t taper off as quickly as many other EVs would.
With a single motor mounted at the rear, it feels pleasingly rear-driven as it pushes you out of corners. Speaking of cornering and things at the rear, the rear-axle steering makes for a unique driving experience.
The EQS’ turning radius is remarkable for a car of its size and it’s almost unnatural how the car pivots around tight corners. It’s also worth noting that parallel parking may take some getting used to as the rear moves laterally. So if you reverse into the parking, the rear comes out rather than tucks itself in.
As with most braking systems with regenerative capabilities, brake pedal feel and predictability aren’t great. You do get used to it but it’s not ideal.
One way to circumvent the brake pedal is to not use it by turning off the “creep” function, which essentially enables one-pedal driving. From there you can select between four levels of regenerative braking – strong, normal, none, or automatic.
For consistency and predictability, strong would be the logical choice for one-pedal driving. Plus, it’s reasonably easy to modulate and get accustomed to.
Drive it a little more enthusiastically around the bends, and its hefty kerb weight becomes evident. The similarly-priced Porsche Taycan does a better job at concealing its weight and it’s just more well-honed in terms of driving, no surprises there.
Ride Comfort – Even calmer than the S-Class
As alluded earlier, one thing the Mercedes-Benz EQS does better than any EV currently on sale in Malaysia is rolling refinement, which is quite a statement considering EVs are inherently quiet. I might even go as far as saying the EQS rides better than the S-Class (the S580e on standard Airmatic suspension, at least), even with massive 21-inch wheels.
The S-Class is an excellent wafter but on the worst of our poorly-patched, pockmarked roads, it can transmit small nuggets of surface texture into the cabin. In the EQS, it’s like the nuggets have been ironed out into pancakes; it’s still there but the passengers would never know how bad the roads that they’ve glided over actually were.
The front seats in the EQS, however, aren’t as large or plush as the ones in the S-Class. Though there’s still plenty of adjustments in lumbar, side bolters, and thigh support for bodies of most shapes and sizes to get comfortable.
It’s the same story against the S-Class in the rear seats. The seat base is shorter and because the floor is relatively high due to the battery placement, seating posture isn’t as comfortable as thigh support is compromised. As a car to be chauffeured in, the S-Class still reigns supreme.
In terms of cabin noise, our decibel meter revealed similar sound levels between the S-Class and EQS, with a discrepancy of just one decibel in favour of the EQS. To my ears, both are exceptionally quiet, but the EQS borders on being nauseating.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ - Cabin noise level
The slippery exterior means there’s no wind buffeting noises at all. It’s like travelling in a vacuum, or putting on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and shutting the world out. What you hear are sounds generated by the car, of which there are two “Sound Experience” profiles to choose from but if you prefer eerie silence or just your music, it can be turned off.
Over a 132.3 km trip in a typical congested Saturday traffic around Klang Valley with an average speed of 21 km/h, the trip computer indicated an average energy consumption of 22.1 kWh/100 km. Regenerative braking was left in normal for majority of the journey, with the occasional switch to strong in stop-and-go traffic.
Our calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 23.9 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive charges to 80 percent (similar to how we perform fuel consumption tests).
In theory, the 107.8-kWh battery would allow a maximum range of 451 km in similar driving conditions, bear in mind that it was rather jammed. With better flowing traffic, figures close to 20 kWh/100 km would be easily achievable.
Is the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ an electric S-Class? Not quite, because the S-Class is still the flagship and it’s evident from the first-class rear seats. But the EQS is better in some areas like storage, practicality, and sheer refinement. In that sense, the EQS has made more progress in the luxury game than the S-Class did in the past decade.
It’s the first model to ride on the dedicated Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA) platform by Mercedes-Benz and they’ve struck a fine balance between being conventional and futuristic.
Most of the controls are still where you’d expect it to be in Mercedes-Benz and it drives naturally, but the abundance of screens and button-less interior give you a taste of what the future looks like.
As regulations in the EU and increasing parts of the world proceed to ban the sale of combustion-engine cars in future, the S-Class could eventually meet its end. With the EQS though, the S-Class can rest well knowing its spirit and legacy will live on.
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.