Mercedes reveals its new luxury electric car with a 770km range

New electric S-Class - the EQS - is expected in showrooms for sales next year

When Mercedes does a luxury car, it tends not to do it by halves. However, the German giant has decided to split its large luxury four-door range in two, dividing it between the traditional, still-petrol-and-diesel (with a little bit of plugin-hybrid and mild-hybrid assistance) S-Class and this, the new EQS electric car.

The EQS is not a mere plaything for the environmentally rich and (otherwise) shameless - it’s the real start of Mercedes’ electric car revolution. Thus far, the EV models we’ve seen from Mercedes have shared their platforms with existing models. The EQC is closely related to the GLC, for example. The EQA is a GLA crossover with batteries instead of a petrol engine.

The EQS, though, rides on a new electric-only chassis, called the EVA platform. Flat-floored, and with a massive 3.2-metre wheelbase, it makes the new EQS incredibly spacious, and should do the same for forthcoming E-Class-sized models built off the same platform. Mercedes says that the EQS has more interior space than any other luxury-class electric saloon.

Massive range

It also means that the EQS can be stuffed to the gills with batteries. The smallest available battery pack for the EQS will be a 90kWh pack, badged as EQS 400. The pricier EQS 580 gets a larger 107kWh battery, for which Mercedes claims a one-charge range of 770km.

There's an optional 22kW on-board charger to maximise the potential of kerb-side public charging, while the 200kW rapid-charge system can add as much as 300km of range in as little as 15-minutes if you can find a sufficiently high-powered charging point. To help with that, EQS customers will get one year's free charging at all IONITY high-speed charging points across Europe.

That EQS 400 model will get a single, rear-mounted electric motor developing 333hp, while the EQS 580 gets two motors, four-wheel drive, and 520hp. You’ll need every single one of those horses, too - the EQS compresses the scales at a whopping 2.5-tonnes, in spite of the widespread use of weight-saving aluminium in its structure. If that sounds a bit too hefty, then take solace in the claim made by Mercedes that both the EQS and its batteries are made in a ‘carbon-neutral’ fashion.

The 580 model gets a colossal 828Nm of torque, which should make it feel a bit lighter than advertised, and 0-100km/h times should dip below the 5.0secs mark. An even more rapid AMG version will follow in due course, with as much as 760hp, and that one should have a higher top speed than the standard EQS, which is limited to 210km/h.

Driving modes

You’ll be able to choose between four driving modes - Electric, Comfort, Sport and Individual - and in Electric mode, there’s ‘one pedal’ driving, thanks to the regenerative braking system, which can recoup a maximum of 293kW from heavy braking.

There’s a choice of two rear-wheel steering setups - one which can turn the back wheels a maximum of 4.5-degrees, the other which can swing them through a rather large 10-degrees, and a ‘Torque Shift’ function which, on the four-wheel drive EQS 580, harmonises the output of the front and rear motors for smoother driving. There are also three ‘themed’ noise generation systems, which can either provide you with futuristic whooshing sounds, or a fake engine noise.

Inside, the most striking feature is the vast 55-inch dashboard - called the ‘MBUX Hyperscreen’ - which appears to be one massive touchscreen. Actually, it’s three screens behind a single panel, with one for the main instruments, one for the central infotainment screen, and a third for the front-seat passenger.

The only physical controls are some small buttons down by the arm-rest, those on the steering wheel and the column stalks. Can’t wait to see the quotes for replacing that screen if it gets smashed… The system will, amongst other things, allow drivers to search for parking spaces at their destination, and pay for that parking through the on-screen system.

High-end options

While the EQS will be both expensive and very well-equipped, high-end options will include multi-function massaging seats front and rear, and an ear-bleeding 710-watt, 15-speaker Burmester sound system.

Almost needless to say, the EQS is pushing hard on the advanced driver aids door, keen to be able to take on Tesla in the ‘self-driving’ wars. Mercedes claims that it’s Level 3 autonomous ready (which is hands-off, but not eyes-off, and only in slow traffic). Part of that tech is also the fact that the huge ‘Hyperscreen’ is said to be able to predict which functions you’re going to need next, by analysing your driving and habits, serving up the screen or menu option you need, before you’ve started prodding at (non-existent) buttons.

Style-wise, it's somewhat less dramatic than the EQS concept car that preceded it, although there is some flair in the low-slung nose, the blanked out grille, and the long, low, roofline (design chief Gordon Wagener calls it the 'one-bow' roof and likens the car's overall style to a bullet train). It is very aerodynamic, with Mercedes claiming that it has the lowest drag coefficients of any car in production - just 0.20-Cd.

Celebrity backing

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about just how futuristic the EQS actually is, Mercedes roped in legendary film director James Cameron to eulogise about how it follows the lead of the Na'Vi characters from his blockbuster, Avatar, in how it takes as little from nature as possible.

Well, it’s probably a better fit for the future than Cameron’s other great film franchise, The Terminator. Rather more relaxingly, musician Alicia Keys also popped up, demonstrating the EQS’ sound system.

Mercedes chief executive Ola Kallenius said: "With the EQS, we set out to create the most sophisticated EV on the planet. And for us, that's not a solo performance, it's the perfect symphony. This symphony includes interior space that's second to none, best in class aerodynamics, sustainability, and industry leading quality and safety."

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring