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Mercedes-Benz raised the curtain Thursday on the 2022 EQS, the automaker’s new all-electric flagship, during an online event.
Based on information from the automaker, there’s an abundance of technological marvels beneath the car’s largely featureless exterior, chief among them the MBUX infotainment system and optional 56-inch touch screen.
It does not replace the traditional Mercedes-Benz S-Class—the automaker’s top-of-the-line, limousine-esqe luxo-cruiser—but is positioned alongside it. The EQS was built from the ground up as an electric vehicle (EV), on a new modular platform that Mercedes plans to use in the future under other large sedans and SUVs.
Christoph Starzynski, vice president for electric vehicle architecture, says the company’s engineers are working on another EV-specific platform that will underpin upcoming compact and midsized electric models.
Mercedes aims for half of its lineup to be electrified by the end of the decade—with either plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids or full battery electric models. The automaker introduced two electric SUVs earlier this year—the compact EQA and the three-row EQB, which are not slated for release in North America. But those EVs share platforms and parts with existing gasoline-powered models, making the new EQS flagship Mercedes’ first dedicated electric model.
The EQS is loosely based on Mercedes’ S-Class—a large, expensive luxury sedan aimed squarely at business executives and the wealthy that has long featured large proportions and conservative exterior styling.
Viewed in that light, the EQS’s relatively bland styling makes perfect sense. Its real pizzazz happens inside the car, with a host of electronic goodies—everything from voice-activated controls and automatically opening and closing doors to 64-color ambient lighting and a triple-screen infotainment system that spans the entire dash. Upgrades can be added via over-the-air (OTA) updates.
The EQS will certainly find its adherents among the well-heeled and environmentally conscious. Mercedes says the cars will be built at a carbon-neutral plant in Germany, and that rear seat luxury appointments such as climate controlled upholstery, massage functions, and dedicated entertainment screens are aimed at customers who prefer being driven by chauffeur.
While that subset of the population is slim indeed, the EQS serves as a showcase for all of the exciting technology that could, eventually, trickle down to the more ordinary cars most people rely on.
Mercedes admits that the EQS is closely related to its gasoline-powered S-Class flagship, but the electric car gets what the automaker is calling a “one-bow” concept to define its shape.
The continuous sweep of an arch describes the EQS roofline from the base of its steeply raked windshield through most of its trunk lid. While it gives the car somewhat of a dollop-like shape, it makes up for its lack of ornament with an overall look that will set it apart from other cars on the road.
The practical element behind its aesthetic is aerodynamics to support efficiency, which Mercedes says is an important part of getting the most out of the electric powertrain.
Rear axle steering will be standard on both trims, with a setup that turns the rear wheels up to 4.5 degrees on the 450+, and one that turns up to 10 degrees on the 580 4MATIC. The system allows tighter turns in the city, and smoother lane changes out on the highway.
The EQS can be equipped with motorized doors. As the driver approaches the car, the retracted door handles extend for entry. With the comfort door option, the driver’s door will open automatically when the driver is sensed to be nearby. The passenger doors can be opened in a traditional, manual fashion or be operated electrically from the central display. Sensors prevent the doors from opening into objects or moving vehicles.
The massive MBUX infotainment system uses three screens behind a single piece of glass that stretches seamlessly before the driver and front seat passenger and dominates the interior space.
The screens provide an array of controls and informational displays, and employ organic LED (OLED) technology, which Mercedes says uses less power than the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens used on most cars’ infotainment interfaces today.
Mercedes says the sweeping screen setup is a nod toward future autonomy, when the interior of a car will be less for driving, and more for relaxing and enjoying as a personal cinema while the car drives itself. A much smaller screen is standard equipment in the lower 450+ trim.
Special effects take center stage inside the EQS. Ambient lighting strips surround the infotainment screen array, line the tops of the doors, and cut little accent slashes throughout the rest of the interior. The ambient lighting system can be custom-configured from a choice of 64 different colors.
For those who are more keen on engine sounds than musical entertainment from the car’s 710-watt, 15-speaker Burmester sound system, there are a few different propulsion soundtracks from which to choose, including one that sounds a bit like the light cycles from Tron.
Driver and passengers can also be treated to various nature sounds, along with corresponding fragrances, and the driver can enjoy a seat that gives hot stone massages.
When the driver wishes to take a break during a rest stop, there’s a sleep mode that will automatically move the seat to a rest position, close the windows, draw the panoramic sunroof shade, paint stars on the infotainment screen, and waft soothing music and fragrances as the pampered motorist drifts off for a power nap.
While all this is going on, the car’s artificial intelligence (AI) brain—centered in the MBUX system—is recording all the details and taking note of the driver’s preferences. It learns them over time, and can make adjustments and suggestions based upon driver behavior. The voice activation control responds to, “Hey, Mercedes . . . ”
What Drives It
The EQS will come in two trim levels—the 450+ and the higher-end 580 4MATIC. The 450+ features a single-motor rear-wheel-drive electric propulsion system that cranks out 329 hp and 409 lb.-ft. of torque. The 580 will get a two-motor all-wheel-drive system—one motor for the front axle and another for the rear—which will produce 516 hp and 611 lb.-ft. of torque.
Mercedes says the all-wheel-drive model’s computer will save energy by powering the rear wheels under most conditions, and applying power to the front wheels for extra traction.
Both trims will get a 108-kWh battery pack, a 130-mph top speed, and an estimated 478 miles of range. It’s important to note, though, that Mercedes’ range estimate is based on European testing standards, which tend to be more optimistic than the numbers issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has not yet weighed in.
Mercedes says going from a 10-percent charge to fully charged using a 240-volt Level 2 charger of the type many EV owners have at home takes 11 hours and 15 minutes, while going from a 10-percent charge to an 80-percent charge using a DC fast charger, the type found in public places, takes just over 30 minutes.
Mercedes incorporated a one-pedal, regenerative braking drive feature it calls Intelligent Recuperation. The driver can use steering wheel mounted paddles to select different levels of regenerative braking that slow the car more or less quickly depending upon preference.
The system can bring the car to a stop without the driver applying the brake pedal, although the brakes will still be needed for faster, or emergency stops. There’s also a coasting mode for those who don’t want any resistance on deceleration, and an automatic mode for those who don’t want to worry about any of it.
Safety and Driver Assistance Systems
As anyone would expect from a Mercedes-Benz flagship, the EQS is loaded with active safety features and driver assistance systems, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning (BSW) with cross traffic assist, lane keeping assistance (LKA), adaptive cruise control (ACC), and automatic parking assist.
The automaker goes a few steps further, though, adding in some novel safety features that predict imminent collision, then take action. One of these systems inflates the seat’s side bolster to move the driver or passenger a few extra inches away from the point of an impending impact.
Another emits a sound prior to a rear impact to warn passengers, and to precondition the ear to prevent hearing loss from the noise of the crash. Route-based speed adaption adjusts the vehicle’s speed to upcoming curves and other roadway features.
The EQS is also equipped to use V2X communication so that it can send and transmit information about road conditions, enabling the car to see further ahead than its onboard sensors and cameras.