Test drive: Mercedes EQS450+: No steering wheel needed !

Let’s be honest, that’s the first time we spend a whole week behind the wheel of a fully electric car .  It was rather positive for us. Admittedly, the € 145.000 EQS is not the cheapest full electric car available but it’s good enough to be a real threat for the internal combustion-engined S-Class. Aboard the 450+, the experience majors on plush and superlative comfort while its useful range should be enough to wipe away any anxiety…

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A Mercedes S-Class is a very silent car : hearing its engine sound demands some dedication.  Even if its four-wheel steering system gives it some nimbleness, the engine sat on the front axle can always be felt. The brand’s new dedicated electric platform is called EVA 2.0 and features batteries located under the floor. In the future, il will be used on all Mercedes top-of-the-range electric cars. Even if the EQS is no featherweight at 2500 kg, what you feel behind the wheel is completely at odds with what the S-Class offers. So much so that every time you get in it, you can’t help wondering wether you have to grab the steering wheel or not ! the magic carpet ride is particularly impressive. Moreover, it blends perfectly with the Mercedes definition of a top luxury limo.

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I like it

The EQS design is divisive : above all, the focus was put on sleek surfaces to improve aerodynamic performance and extending the range as much as possible. Its 0.20 Cx is a real achievement for a limo, even if it’s slightly shorter the S-Class. The streamlined design means that passengers sits lower in the cabin, but it did not bother us in the least. Fit and finish is absolutely stunning. However, our test car’s interior light colour is far from ideal for daily use in Belgium : unfortunately, rain and mud marks will often remain on the carpets. The driving position is absolutely perfect. The screens in front of the driver make for a cosy place to be. The central one is horizontal, while the front passenger can play with another touch screen all of his or her own. A glass panel covers them both and they appear as a single one. The car also keeps an eye on the driver : if he or she looks too often at the passenger screen, it will shut down automatically. The high tech gizmos will entertain your passengers for quite a while… isn’t it Stephane ?

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Quite clever

This 450+ Launch Edition’s electric motor sends its 333 hp power and 568 Nm torque to the rear axle. It will get to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and top speed is 210 km/h. Mercedes claims that even if the EQS cruises at 200 km/h, i twill still have a useful 300 km range up, thanks to the streamlined body. It seems highly plausible : when we left the importer’s premices in Evere, the available range was 620 km and there were still 500 km when we arrived in Liège,  having driven the car for an 80 km trip. This means a useful range of about 400 km, regardless of the way you drive. For us, this is a real achievement in the case of an electric car! If you are more careful, you can use about 20 kWh/100 km on average. This would ensure a 600 km range. Topping up the battery from 10 to 80% will only take half an hour, using the 200 kW maximum charging capacity. Another achievement.  

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I don’t like it

There is a rather peculiar feedback the first time you push on the brakes pedal and the steering  requires some getting used to as well. However, you end up understanding how the brakes work, obviously depending on power regeneration as well as the needed slow down. The steering wheel is pretty big but the system is light and lively : you’d almost be surprised to actually have to steer this car as it’s so different from what you’ve known before.

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Why I buy it

The EQS is worlds apart from the S-Class and could not be mistaken for it, thanks to its sleek aerodynamic design. Inside, luxury and exquisite refinement are on the menu for all the passengers. The screenwall in front of the driver gives this car a unique, spaceship-look. Every time you have to use the steering wheel, you just wonder why there are no joysticks instead ! Apart from the hated Tesla, this electric limo is probably the first fully electric car with a truly credible range. That’s the sort of relief that could finally bring us into the 21st century !

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Why I don’t buy it

Being a die-hard petrolhead, I was short-changed regarding feelings behind the wheel. Just don’t expect a direct and mechanical steering feedback. Electric cars’ steering always feels a bit unnatural and disconnected. We won’t even mention the eye-watering, stratospheric list price… or the numerous fingerprints left on the touchscreens, that’s just a detail ! (Translation: Dimitri Urbain / Pictures: Pierre Fontignies)

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