Auto123 conducts a first test drive of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV.
Denver, Colorado – I think it’s safe to say that most future owners of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV – or any other luxury vehicle costing around $160,000, for that matter – will never swing their vehicle on two wheel. At least not on purpose. But we did.
This little exercise we performed on the bumpy section of an off-road course near Denver, Colorado, was born out of the German automaker’s understandable desire to show us some of the amazing things its first all-electric SUV can do.
Some of them are far beyond what any reasonable owner of such an expensive vehicle would risk.
It is understood that the driving program we took part in included much more than the off-road part, and the sheer scale of the event underlined the importance to Mercedes-Benz of the new electric flagship SUV which is about to be launched.
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In a way, we already knew a lot about the EQS SUV, thanks to the EQS sedan that was already on the market. Both are built on the same specific platform, the one, and many elements, especially inside, are the same in both configurations. Thus we find the impressive Hyperscreen screen that dominates the environment in the first row (in some versions), the same super-comfortable seats with soft cushions front and back, including the executive rear seat as an option, the same extremely quiet cabin, the same first-class finish and the same attention to detail, etc., etc.
At 3,210 mm, the wheelbase is also the same as the sedan, while the overall length is 5,125 mm (50 mm less than the sedan). But it is an SUV and therefore it is higher off the ground (the height is 20 cm higher) and it weighs 2,804 kg, compared to 2,585 kg for the car. So there are issues with weight distribution and handling and acceleration capabilities, for example, that are different from what we saw with the EQS sedan.
The remote updates introduced in EQS are also present, but the set has been expanded, although most of the new features are not yet activated and will only work in certain areas.
The EQS SUV in Canada
Canadian buyers have the choice of two versions, the EQS 450 4MATIC and the EQS 580 4MATIC, both naturally equipped with two engines and therefore with four-wheel drive. Then there are the optional packages that are also similar to what is offered with the sedan: Premium, Sport, Sport Interior, Premium Rear Seats and Executive Rear Seats. Finally, the SUV is available in five- or seven-seat configurations, but as you’d expect, the third-row seats are reserved for children or temporary emergency use only.
Five driving modes are offered to drivers of the two models offered in Canada: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual and, yes, Off-road. The latter is for when you’re told to risk scratching your $160,000 Mercedes a little/a lot. That said, the EQS SUV is capable of maneuvering in very tight spaces thanks to the 4.5-degree rear wheel steering included as standard (there’s even an option for a 10-degree system).
The EQS 450 4MATIC and EQS 580 4MATIC models each have an estimated range of 459 km. When the latter is low, the Mercedes-Me Charge network provides access to around 10,000 charging points in Canada. Like the sedan, the SUV has a 107.8 kW battery pack and can be recharged at 200 kW. Charging from 10% to 80% can be done in as little as 31 minutes.
As for price, Mercedes gave the 450 4MATIC a starting price of $136,000, the 580 4MATIC a starting price of $158,500. This latest version is equipped as standard with the brand’s HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter and the 1.41 meter wide Hyperscreen. Note that the 450 is “satisfied” with the dashboard with a 12.3-inch screen and the 17.7-inch multimedia screen in the S-Class sedan.
Sit anyone in the new EQS SUV and chances are you’ll be talking about the Hyperscreen first. It can almost make you feel like you’re sitting a little too close to your 65″ TV in your tiny basement. Almost, but no, because honestly, it’s a pleasure to use the system and enjoy its high resolution and amazing graphics, in at least once you figure it all out, there’s a LOT to take in, so don’t worry if you’re feeling a little lost as a new owner.
Lost or not, this series of linked curved screens spans the width of the cabin and I defy anyone not to be impressed by the spectacle in front of them. The data screen is large, the center screen is even larger, but unique is the 12.3-inch OLED display for the front passenger, which offers a wealth of functionality and independence for the right-handed user.
On the road
So you rest your buttocks and back on the premium seat and your head on the soft pillow. Your ears are bathed in the sublime acoustics of the Dolby Almos sound system and in the silence of the cabin of this non-combustion engine vehicle. Your eyes feast on the stunning graphics that stretch for miles across the dashboard in front of you.
But you will sometimes turn it on, this EV. So what?
If you were expecting a mediocre trip, I don’t know what you were thinking. The 580 4MATIC we first drove makes 536 horsepower and 633 lb-ft of torque (out of the box, of course); with that kind of power, this utility can move, and it does, with an ease unbecoming of an SUV. Even the 450 4MATIC is quick enough, although it’s a little more relaxed hitting the motorway cadence.
Otherwise, the body of this SUV (whose dimensions place it between the GLE and GLS) is, if not absent, at least not particularly problematic in high-speed corners. Unless you are much more aggressive than is possible with such an expensive vehicle.
And far from the road
Which kind of brings me to the off-road part of our Rocky Mountain adventure. Even the Mercedes guides who helped us on our short and entertaining journey admitted that no owner is likely to punish their EQS SUV in such a way. But hey, who were we to turn down the offer to abuse the electric car by steering it over obstacles, into potholes and around trees? Or even the chance to balance a $160,000 luxury electric vehicle on two wheels through a bumpy course? At least it gave us the opportunity to appreciate the bite and precision of the braking system and once again the incredible effect of the steering ability of the rear wheels.
Back on the road, we’ve noted several qualities that will be highly appreciated by owners of the EQS SUV in more mainstream settings. For example, quiet driving, the quick response of the climate control system, the clarity and detail of the navigation system’s image and even the vehicle’s head-up system, which displays its data “further” in front of the driver than most other systems, so you take your eyes off the road less. It’s a nice optical trick.
The rear seats are just as comfortable as those in the front row, with more legroom, shoulder and headroom than in the sedan, unsurprisingly. The boot is a reasonable size at 645 liters for the five-seat configuration and 565 liters with seven seats, but one thing I noticed is the relatively narrow opening when the tailgate is open.
The last word
Our travels in and around Denver have confirmed to us that Mercedes-Benz has spared no effort in this third electric vehicle based on its new all-electric architecture.
From the outside, it’s not the most exciting SUV to hit the market – I find the exterior design tasteful and well-proportioned, but a little anonymous – but the real fireworks are inside, and under the floor, in the advanced powertrain.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is expected to arrive at Canadian dealerships in the coming weeks.
A wonderfully refined and quiet ride
The driveline provides a lot of punch
Autonomy is more than acceptable (we will see what effect winter will have)
The hyperscreen is a spectacle in itself
Rear-wheel steering makes the car as agile as a compact car in tight corners
We love less
The tailgate opening is a little narrow at the sides
Exterior design is a bit anonymous
The complexity of the MBUX system and its functions
The main competition
Tesla Model X