Home >Auto News >2022 EQS 580 4Matic: Mercedes’s answer to the Tesla Model S

2022 EQS 580 4Matic: Mercedes’s answer to the Tesla Model S

The EQS’s biggest flex is the outrageous MBUX Hyperscreen dash display—56 inches wide, like the car has its own drive-in—backed by eight CPU cores and 24 GB of RAM. (REUTERS)Premium
The EQS’s biggest flex is the outrageous MBUX Hyperscreen dash display—56 inches wide, like the car has its own drive-in—backed by eight CPU cores and 24 GB of RAM. (REUTERS)

  • With the EQS, Daimler introduces the first of four Mercedes-EQ models that will share an all-new electric architecture. Should Elon Musk be worried? Dan Neil doesn’t think so

THE OBERALPSTRASSE is a two-lane road winding over and sometimes through the Swiss Alps, by way of thrilling, kilometers-long tunnels. It’s famous as one of the great driving roads in Europe, and on any sunny summer day it can turn into a conga line of rented Harleys and caravans. But on this occasion—a cool, wet Thursday morning, July 15—I had the Alps almost to myself. Just me and the mighty 2022 EQS 580 4Matic Sedan, an all-electric S-Class from Daimler’s Mercedes-EQ sub-brand. In the EQS you never ride alone.

With up to 350 sensors and cameras watching, listening, recording every foot of road, every eye blink and utterance, the EQS is a learning machine, says Mercedes, using AI-like algorithms to analyze and anticipate drivers’ needs, routines and comfort. Consider the automatic massage function, which detects and, um, manipulates hot spots in the seat-occupant’s sitter, by way of pneumatic bladders. I never know if I should tip.

The EQS’s biggest flex is the outrageous MBUX Hyperscreen dash display—56 inches wide, like the car has its own drive-in—backed by eight CPU cores and 24 GB of RAM. My borrowed 580 4Matic was also fitted with the 710-watt, 15-speaker Burmester audio system, the effects of which are bottled up in 5,888 pounds of German schhhhteel, overstuffed leather upholstery and acoustically insulated glass. It’s like DJing a rave in Juliet’s tomb.

The first of four models that will share an all-new electric architecture, including an SUV, the EQS is a pivotal product for Daimler AG, if made under duress. Post-Dieselgate (2015), German automakers have argued they needed more time to make the transition to electrification. Daimler’s pledge to reach fleet carbon-neutrality is hopefully titled “Ambition 2039."

As if. On Wednesday, July 14, the European Commission in Brussels announced a proposal to cut CO2 emissions from new cars 55% by 2030, with a 100% cut by 2035 among member states. And that was before the sun came up Thursday, revealing the destruction across Europe caused by unprecedented rain and flooding—a tragedy widely attributed to climate change. By Friday, with scores killed, injured or missing, even the EC’s revised proposals seemed to lack urgency.

I never understood the reluctance of superluxury brands like Mercedes-Maybach and Rolls-Royce to embrace electrification earlier, as next-level luxury. The EQS’s frictionless gait, majestic thrust and levitating refinement along the Oberalpstrasse makes a legacy S-Class feel like a coal-burning steamship. They should have called it Regicide.

Among the driver-centric features is the rear-steering assist, chassis linkages that can turn the rear wheels up to 10% in either direction. The system allows the 17+ foot luxo-liner to make an effortless U-turn in just 35.7 feet. In mountain switchbacks, the rear steering helps whip the car’s big butt around the tight radii.

The other invisible presence on the Oberalpstrasse was the Tesla Model S. Almost a decade after the first Tesla sedan was proclaimed the best car in the world, the EQS represents the long-awaited counterpunch from Stuttgart, the empire striking back. Surely with all those in-house geniuses, Daimler can finally lay a glove on Elon Musk’s chin?

Not with this one, not by the numbers. The EQS will come to the U.S. this fall as either the EQS 450+ (single motor, rear drive, 329 hp/419 lb-ft); or EQS 580 4Matic (dual motor, AWD, 516 hp/631 lb-ft combined). With just the one permanent-magnet synchronous motor, the 450+ glides to 60 mph in a stately 5.9 seconds. The 580 4Matic does the deed in only 4.1 seconds.

The EQS’s floor-mounted battery pack has a usable capacity of 107.8 kWh, good for up to 780 km of range, according to the European WLTP standard. In U.S. EPA lingo, that’s about 485 miles, but official numbers haven’t been posted. The recharge rate is also impressive. With DC fast charging (up to 200 kW) the EQS can reach 80% of capacity in 31 minutes.

Those are strong results but not Tesla strong. One reason is that the EQS is almost a foot longer and 1,122 pounds heavier than the relevant Model S. Also, in the interests of cutting mass, Tesla permits itself to forgo some items Mercedes can’t, such as the 12-volt battery. The Big Book of Daimler stipulates an independent 12-volt power source. Mass optimization was never Mercedes’ strong suit.

In other ways, the EQS antes up nicely at Tesla’s table. All models will be capable of extensive over-the-air (OTA) updates, including downloadable features and games. The cabin ambience is rarefied, with HEPA filtration, optional fragrance dispenser and more indirect lighting than a Vincente Minnelli movie. The motorized door handles pop out like you-know-whose.

The EQS comes to market waving one more, once-unthinkable number: the lowest aerodynamic drag of any production car, a wraith-like, whispering 0.20 Cd, including wheels and tires. This is just under the number claimed by Tesla with the Model S a few weeks ago (0.208).

What’s striking is that two cars that look identical to the wind can appear so different to us. The EQS’s strongly and strangely cab-forward proportions as well as the “one-bow" roofline seem conspicuous in their effort to avoid Model S-ness. The magic words uttered over the styling are “progressive luxury" and “sensual purity." I am reminded of that old Swiss folk expression, box-office poison.

The EQS goes hard the other way, inside too. Tesla is famous for reducing all driver information and most controls to a central touchscreen. The EQS, rather contrarily, spreads them out on the Hyperscreen, with haptic response and “zero-layer" interface—i.e., almost no embedded menus. Have you ever tried to find something on the icon-littered desktop of your mom’s computer?

So not a Tesla.

2022 EQS 580 4Matic

Estimated price, as tested: $150,000 to $185,000

Powertrain: Fully electric front and rear-mounted permanent magnet synchronous motors; 396 V/107.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. 9.6 kW onboard inverter; single-speed transmission, torque-vectoring AWD

Power/torque: 516 hp/631 lb-ft.

Length/width/height/wheelbase: 207.28/83.66 (w/mirrors)/ 59.57/126.38 inches

Curb weight: 5,888 pounds

0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds

Range: 485 miles (approximate)

Trunk capacity: 22 cubic feet.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text)

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