Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC First Drive review
Fewer cars have been of more significance to Mercedes-Benz as the EQS 580. It is fast and luxurious, VFM (if that’s a thing in a luxury car), and it is now made (okay, assembled) in India. The launch of the EQS 580 was a statement of intent and strength by Mercedes-Benz India, all 13 locally-assembled Mercs lined up to welcome the very first EQS to roll off the line, driven by no less than India’s strongest e-vangelist, road and transport minister Nitin Gadkari. This review, then, isn’t just about the way the EQS drives along with all the tech and features but also about Mercedes going electric in India. The three-pointed star turns a new chapter with the EQS, making it worthy of its own space.
Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC styling and aerodynamics
You may think that with 516bhp and 855Nm, the EQS would set a scorching time on the drag strip, and you’re right in your assumption, 0-100kmph in 4.3 seconds being seriously rapid. But if you want a quarter mile hero you’d be better served by the EQS 53 AMG. The EQS 580 though comes with a drag coefficient of 0.2, the lowest for any production car in the world. And the lengths Mercedes’ designers and engineers have gone through to give it that slippery shape is insane. For a car weighing 2.6 tonnes and having the space to do justice to its flagship credentials (among EVs), the car had to be big. So, designers worked on a swooping one-bow design that starts from the front, and in one single curve, goes all the way to the boot, without any change in angles. To include the bonnet, windscreen, roof, rear windscreen and the boot lid along that curve must have been one mega challenge while making it look like a proper car and not some project contraption.
The thing is, that one-bow design wasn’t enough, so they sealed the frunk. Traditional cars come with an engine, a passenger compartment and a boot, so when EVs were made out of existing platforms, the absence of an engine was utilised to make a front trunk or frunk, giving EVs more luggage space as a result. But that bonnet line would add to the drag. Since the EQS is built on a new EVA platform with a massive 610 litre boot, the bonnet could be sealed shut. That gives the front end a clean joint-free design that helps reduce drag even further, leading to that 0.2Cd figure. Aerodynamics have played such an important part in the EQS that it rides too low. Ground clearance is 110mm, and since it gets air suspension, you can raise the ride height by 15mm under 50kmph. For such a long car, it is a bit of a concern if you aren’t careful.
Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC range and architecture
It’s, of course, not the first electric Mercedes-Benz we have driven. That would be the EQC and last month we were also floored by the EQS 53 AMG. But the AMG is a CBU and carries a massive Rs 2.45 crore ex-showroom price tag. The car in these pictures was made in India, went through the whole homologation process and is a massive Rs 90 lakh cheaper than its go-faster cousin. Of the basket of ARAI tests the car underwent, the most interesting one is the range test. It returned a mind-boggling 857km on the Modified Indian Driving Cycle (MIDC). That’s an academic number compared to the 677km WLTP range that the rest of the world uses which highlights how disconnected the ARAI tested figures are from the real world. The skateboard architecture of the EQS uses the same 107.8kWh battery pack as the AMG but the lowered output helps add another 90km of range. Impressive range aside, the reason the EQS will appeal to many HNIs is because in many states of India you don’t even have to pay road tax for an EV (and we know how much they hate paying taxes). The ex-showroom price is going to be very close to the on-road price, which makes it about Rs 35-40 lakh cheaper than an S-Class. You only have to service the EQS once every two years or every 30,000km and charging is going to be free at every Mercedes dealership for the first year so the minute you drive the car out of the showroom, it is going to practically cost you only toll money. Sometimes even the rich count their pennies!
Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC ride, handling and performance
The EQS AMG rides stiffer and so has fewer chances of bottoming on a large speed breaker, but the softer EQS 580 has more play and so you’ve got to crab-crawl over speed breakers and pick your braking and throttling moments wisely. What makes life simpler is geo tagging speed breakers around your regular routes. You can tag these speed humps and the suspension will automatically lift every time it is near a tagged speed breaker. Just get to under 50kmph well in time before the tagged breaker. Only if the ride height would lift by 50mm like you can in an S-Class and the EQS 580 would have the potential to be a proper cross-country (e-)tourer. A properly fast tourer!
I wish I was nerdy enough to remember these numbers but I might just be right about this – the EQS 580 is the fastest accelerating non-AMG Mercedes-Benz with100kmph taking a claimed 4.3 seconds, such is the magic of instantaneous electric torque and all-wheel-drive. Compared to the AMG this car delivers 855 Nm in a creamy smooth manner in contrast to the wickedly violent 1020 Nm in the AMG. It just gains and gains speed, backed by 516bhp and instant torque. The super highset dashboard comes into your field of vision under hard acceleration as the nose lifts, and then it settles down and keeps going till you max it out at 210kmph. Don’t ask me the location of the closed road where we achieved that. The EQS 580 is soft and cosseting and fast, all at the same time. Even though you have all the performance settings, in its stiffest setting, the EQS is tuned for comfort first, so you will feel it roll and understeer a bit on a tight road. My brain had to recalibrate to 80-85 percent of the EQS AMG’s performance without the mighty six piston brakes of the AMG. The EQS 580 also gets 10-degrees of rear axle steering making it very manoeuvrable in the city but on the highway it prefers fast sweeping corners to tight hill climbs. It has a very laid-back character despite all the performance on tap.
Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC interior
If you were confused among the many flagships in the Mercedes range, I must clarify that the EQS 580 sits a step lower than the S-Class, and that’s despite the 56-inch hyperscreen indicating otherwise. The sense of opulence that you get on the S is still unrivalled but among EVs the EQS is the flagship, not just for Mercedes-Benz but amongst any EV you can buy in India. The Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT lean on the sporty side while the EQS is bathed in luxury, from the super cushy leather seats to the wood and metal finishes on the dashboard. It’s backed by a banging 15-speaker 710W Burmester system, a panoramic sunroof and a suite of features that make the car look and feel rich on the inside.
‘The future is electric’ is a line that has been thrown around a lot over the past few years, but the intent is only being seen now. From Mercedes-Benz, it starts with the EQS. The company expects between 400-500 unit sales in the first full year of manufacture, and when the EQB SUV comes to India in a couple of months, they aim will be to triple the numbers. That’s at least 2000 units till next year or 15-20 percent of total sales in the first year, making it a significant number. And I for one wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a big success. Charging networks around the country are expanding at a brisk pace, the reliability is improving and now that the 120+ strong M-B network will have fast chargers offering free charging for its EV customers, there is little to deter anyone from buying a luxury EV now, especially one that buries the range anxiety issue.