There's a sense with the EQS that this is Mercedes' first all-out attack on the Electric Avenue. For the first time Mercedes is using a platform specially developed to be pure electric. Not only is it flexible enough to allow numerous different configurations and be scalable to have different bodies placed on it (a smaller saloon and two SUVs are planned), but the platform’s clever packaging means it offers fantastic interior space.
Measuring 5.21 metres in length the EQS is as long as the range-topping S-Class limo. But the EQS's 3.21-metre wheelbase (the area between the wheels when looking at the side of the car) is on par with the S-Class long-wheelbase, which means back seat passengers can really stretch out. And because the tailgate extends into the roof, the boot can be expanded like an SUV. With a capacity of almost 1,800 litres, the big electric Merc has more space than most estate cars, so can even be used as an Ikea shopping trolley.
Mercedes really has thrown everything it has at the EQS. It gets a massive 107.8kWh battery which means an official WLTP range of 478 miles – that's almost 62 miles more than a Tesla Model S and a new world record. There are two versions; the EQS 450 gets a 329bhp rear-mounted electric motor and the EQS 580 packs two motors, one on each axle, and 516bhp, which is more than an S-Class with a V8 petrol engine.
Only the 450 is coming to the UK in the second half of 2021 with a price tag of around £90,000, but a smaller battery model will also be launched later and a performance-minded Mercedes-AMG version is expected too.
Mercedes doesn't want to score points with the hardware alone, though. Software and tech are two big features of the EQS and this is most obvious with the car's 'hyperscreen'. Mercedes calls it a 'continuous surface made of aluminium silicate glass' but to you and I it's a large infotainment screen that extends practically across the entire dashboard. It screen is curved at 650-degrees and measures a staggering 1.41 metres, making a Tesla Model S's screen look pretty tiny.
While the interior is radical, the EQS drives in a familiar fashion. After just a few meters behind the wheel, you get the sense you have both arrived in the future but also there’s the same sublime feeling of luxurious travel that’s been an S-Class hallmark for decades – just more modern, cleaner, cooler. What is surprising is the almost spontaneous acceleration. While it does weigh 2.5 tonnes, the EQS (driven here in twin-motor 580 form and wearing the disguise of a prototype) can sprint to 62mph in less than five seconds which is well into AMG levels of performance.
Aside from the speed, the EQS impresses with a level of refinement only previously been offered by the ultra-posh and ultra-expensive Maybach versions of the S-Class. Once you have deactivated the artificial spaceship sound or the imitated V8 rumble, you travel in absolute silence. Due to the wind finding so little resistance from the car's slippery body shape, you will almost hear the digital clock ticking rather than nasty tyre and wind noises. And thanks to air suspension the EQS has an unreal level of comfort.
Mercedes wants to make life easy for the driver so it has fitted the EQS with an intelligent recuperation programme that cleverly educates the driver how to drive without touching the brake pedal. Thanks to some clever sensors as part of the automatic distance control and the electric motors, the traditional mechanic brake is largely superfluous as the EQS can measure and predict when it will need to slow down and can brake automatically. And while the EQS feels like a huge car for the occupants, it feels small for the driver. Just like the new S-Class, the EQS gets rear-wheel steering which can turn the wheels by up to 10-degrees to help with manoeuvring. It means the EQS can slip through city traffic effortlessly.
With driving comfort at the highest level, an interpretation of luxury that is more trendy than traditional, and it having the largest battery on sale, the longest range and the biggest infotainment screen, there's a sense the EQS is a new guiding star for the electric car market. But at the same time, another fixed star that has shown the way in the Mercedes firmament for decades is fading.
The newly launched, seventh-generation S-Class (which does come as a plug-in hybrid, and yet to be tested by Electrifying) was recently celebrated as 'the best luxury saloon car in the world'. But it almost feels like the best modern classic as the EQS is the new direction for the Mercedes brand.