Test drive Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV: The aliens spaceship has landed

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If you want to drive across America from East to West, the new Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV may be the model for you: it’s super spacious, super comfortable, super silent, super powerful, and offers a decent range.

Photo: Bogdan Paraschiv

It’s like an ocean liner on wheels: massive, opulent, stately, and supremely comfortable. At 5.13 meters long, with a wheelbase of 3.21 meters and a curb weight of 2,810 kg, the new EQS SUV best expresses Mercedes’ philosophy of comfort and luxury in the new electric era.

The Mercedes EQS SUV is the third model in the new electric luxury range built on the dedicated EVA II electric platform, following the EQS and EQE limousines, and is virtually the electric equivalent of the Mercedes GLS.

At 5.13 meters (202 in) long, almost 2 meters (78.7 in) wide without mirrors, and over 1.70 meters (67 in) tall, the EQS SUV looks much more massive than the limousine built on the same EVA II platform from which it is derived, and not just because it is 20 cm (7.87 in) taller. It has a massive, imposing allure, but its highly aerodynamic shape makes it looks more compact than it really is. With a record Cx for an SUV of its size of just 0.25, the Mercedes EQS SUV looks like an alien spaceship that has landed on Earth.

test drive mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV

Huge space, top ergonomics 

Mercedes didn’t want to compromise on space and aerodynamics, which are closely linked to energy consumption, and that’s why it developed a dedicated electric platform. With exquisite proportions, a short bonnet, and a massive wheelbase of 3.21 meters (126.4 in), the EQS SUV offers enormous space in the rear. We tested the five-seat version, but there’s also a seven-seat option (1,904 euro/$2,008).

In the five-seat version, knee and headroom are huge in the second row; the interior width is generous, the rear bench is superbly configured for two, and rear passengers enjoy individual automatic climate control (1,357 euro/$1,432). But the option for rear climate control entails the option for the costly Electronic Art Premium package, which costs no less than 19,569 euro ($20,648) and includes 10-degree integral steering, Digital headlights, panoramic sunroof, Burmester 3D audio system, automatic parking system with 360-degree camera, augmented reality for the navigation and head-up display, Distronic adaptive cruise control with Pre Safe, 21-inch alloy wheels and black leather upholstery.

test drive mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV

The rear bench slides electrically by 13 cm (5.11 in), and its segments recline and rise electrically from two buttons in the boot, all of which come as standard! Depending on the position of the seat, the boot volume ranges from 645 to 880 liters, and folding the bench down brings it up to 2100 liters. In contrast, the enormous cost of developing a dedicated electric platform shows savings in other places, such as the plastics covering the entire back of the front seat backs.

Up front, the driving position is 20 cm (7.87 in) higher than in the EQS, but the supremely comfortable seat hugs you like you’re sinking into it, not sitting on it. In this respect, the driving position is better than in the BMW iX, where you sit too high and the dashboard is too low.

In the EQS SUV, the massive dashboard is taken up by the impressive 1.41-meter-wide Hyperscreen standard on the 580 4Matic version. Compared to the EQS, a charming and colorful display with off-road specific information including altimeter, compass, longitudinal and transverse clinometer, and – very special – rear axle steering angle has been added to the instrument menu, which we’ll come back to in a moment.

There are a lot of functions to manage, but Mercedes has handled this admirably. From the two small touch surfaces on the upper arms of the steering wheel taken over from the C and S-Class, which in my opinion, are the best solution in the industry, you can control the instrument cluster (left arm touch surface) and the multimedia system (right arm touch surface). And from the lower arms, you can access the adaptive cruise control (left arm) and phone, audio volume, and voice control, respectively (right arm). The climate control menu is always at the bottom of the multimedia system’s OLED screen. From the haptic feedback interaction bar, you can directly access driving modes, audio volume, the most important menus, and the hazard warning button.

Simply put, everything is exceptionally intuitive despite the multiple functions. With the gearshift mounted in its traditional place on the steering wheel, space has been cleared in the center tunnel for the drinks can lid compartment, which also has a protected area for wireless phone charging. And there’s another generous space in the center armrest, each compartment featuring two USB-C sockets.

test drive mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV

The most comfortable drive train

The Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic has the best drivetrain Mercedes has to offer at the moment: adaptive air suspension and integral steering with a 10-degree steering angle. This 10-degree angle differs from other integral steerings with smaller steering angles because this huge SUV turns like a compact hatchback in just 11 meters. It’s convenient given the large size. You can adjust the suspension strength according to your chosen driving mode and the ground clearance. Usually, the ground clearance is 178 mm, but you can manually raise the suspension by 25 cm (9.8 in) below 60 kph (37.3 mph), and at speeds over 110 kph (68.3 mph), it automatically drops by 10 mm (0.04 in) in Comfort and 15 mm (0.06 in) in Sport mode.

In Comfort mode, the EQS SUV floats across the road like sitting on a magical carpet, and no Rolls-Royce Cullinan does the job better. The bridge’s cross-over joints are perfectly absorbed, and only when crossing over culverts is a slight shudder. In Sport mode, the suspension stiffens but don’t imagine it turning into any AMG suspension. It’s a little firmer but not overly so because this SUV is all about comfort. That may be why Mercedes isn’t offering an AMG version on this model but only on the more compact EQE SUV coming in May.

The EQS 580 4Matic runs extremely quietly because Mercedes didn’t cut any corners on sound-deadening materials, completely encapsulated the two motors, and double-insulated them using rubber mounts. The electric motors are, therefore, completely inaudible, and wind noise is shallow thanks to the excellent aerodynamics. By contrast, using sound-absorbing materials in all critical areas and the large battery with a large capacity of 107.8 kWh net has resulted in a vast 2,810 kg (6,195 pounds) weight for the five-seater version.

But despite this enormous weight, the two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors have no problem pushing this liner vigorously. In Eco mode, power is limited; on Comfort, the EQS SUV is livelier and more incisive when accelerating in Sport Mode. But it’s never brutal, as the power flows smoothly without any untimely reaction. 0-100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds says much about the car’s longitudinal dynamics.

If you want to tackle twisty mountain roads, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the highly communicative steering, which is not much assisted. It gives precise feedback on wheel position and has a shorter gear ratio than expected. Traction is superb as the Torque Shifting function that distributes torque between front and rear is monitored 10,000 times per minute. The steering encourages you to attack corners hard; the superb driving position also gives you confidence; the traction is faultless, but you must temper yourself because of the enormous weight. After all, this EQS SUV is not made for pushing hard through corners but for long journeys.

Long journeys? Yes, it’s possible because, despite the high power and weight, energy consumption in the test was only 29 kWh/100 km in Eco Mode, which means genuine 400 km (248.5 miles) in sub-10 degree temperatures. We can even imagine a true 500 km (310.6 miles) in warmer conditions, as Mercedes claims a WLTP range of 597 km (371 miles). Of course, it also depends on how you use the three energy recuperation grades, which can be changed from the paddles behind the steering wheel.

test drive mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV

Inconsistent brake pedal feeling 

If you select a navigation destination (we also have augmented reality and a color head-up display with multiple information), then the navigation calculates the range based on the topography of the route, and tells you if you reach the destination with the amount of energy you have or suggests charging stations. Likewise, if you set a navigation destination, the car brakes before turning.

With the brakes, however, Mercedes still needs to manage the transition between regenerative and hydraulic braking force. As a result, not much happens in the first part of the pedal stroke, and you must press the pedal harder for a more substantial deceleration. As a result, the feel is odd.

Being a 400V platform, the EQS SUV doesn’t charge as quickly as a Porsche Taycan that benefits from the 800V platform. The EQS sedan, which has a similar battery and charging system, takes 61 minutes to charge to 100% and 17 minutes to charge to 50%. The battery can charge up to 200 kW at DC stations and 22 kW at AC stations.

The base price of 135,434 euro ($142,775) is very high, and for example, the petrol equivalent Mercedes GLS 580 4Matic equipped with the 489 ps (482 hp) twin-turbo V8 and 48V mild hybrid system costs 119,750 euro ($126,648), over 16,000 euro ($16,870) less. And the Mercedes GLS comes with seven seats as standard, while the Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV costs an extra 1,904 euro ($2,008).

Verdict

The Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic SUV is massive, powerful, comfortable, ultra-spacious, ultra-refined, and ultra-quiet. It consumes little for its size and power and drives unexpectedly smoothly and precisely. Long journeys are a pleasure, thanks to the decent range. Criticisms: pedal feel and some interior materials that shouldn’t have been there at this very high price.

Model Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic
Engine 2, electric
Max. output (PS/HP)544/536
Max. torque (Nm/lb-ft)855/630.6
L x w x h (mm/in)5,125 x 1,959 x 1,718/ 202 x 77.1 x 67.6
Wheelbase (mm/in) 3,215/126.4
Curb weight (kg/pounds)2,810/6,195
Battery capacity gross/net (kWh)120/107.8
Charge power (kW)/charge time DC (min)200 kw /31 min
Charge power (kW)/charge time AC (h)22 kw /5 h
Energy consumption (kWh/100 km)20.2
WLTP range (km/miles)597/371
Acc 0-100 km/h (s)5.2
Top speed (kph/mph)210/130.5
Price (euro with VAT, $)135,434/142,775