Mercedes' New Flagship Electric Vehicles
In just a couple of months, Mercedes-Benz has introduced two brand-new flagship models to sit at the top of its lineup of luxury sedans – the S-Class and the EQS. Top-flight Mercedes only come along about once every decade – so for two to arrive almost at the same time is significant, and might represent a major tipping point in the high-end car market.
S-Class Hybrid vs Electric EQS
What makes the two cars different? Given that you are reading this article on GreenCars, you can probably guess. One, the S-Class, is powered by gasoline, while the second, the EQS, is all electric. One continues the heritage of over 50 years of Mercedes’ technology and luxury leaders; the other represents a kind of new beginning for the company. The EQS is the first Mercedes-Benz designed from the ground up to be all-electric rather than adapted from a gasoline platform.
Sitting at the top of the company’s lineup, the two vehicles actually have quite a lot in common. They are both huge, luxurious vehicles with long wheelbases and leather-and-wood-lined interiors packed with conveniences and high technology. Standard luxuries on both models include heated, ventilated, and massaging seats; high-end Burmester sound system; adjustable LED interior lighting; and more. Mercedes-Benz’s new “MBUX” interface is standard-fit on both cars, supplementing large touchscreens with natural voice control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and over-the-air software updates to keep the car’s software current without having to visit a dealer. The navigation system in both cars uses augmented reality technology to project directly onto the windshield to guide you through intersections, and have biometric authentication, letting you unlock and start the car using your fingerprint.
They are both also packed with active safety features. Mercedes’ Pre-Safe system uses a battery of sensors to scan the road ahead and can automatically brake the car to a stop if it senses something jumping out in front of you. Active cruise control can maintain a set distance from the car in front of you, and can even stop, start, and accelerate through traffic, requiring only steering input from the driver. Active steering assist can guide you back into your lane if you stray, and evasive steering assist helps the car steer automatically around obstacles. A parking assistance can help the car park itself, while rear cross-traffic alert with pedestrian detection makes backing out of a spot safer.
All of this is par for the course for a Mercedes flagship, which has traditionally been where the company introduces new technology before trickling it down to the rest of the lineup. So what makes the EQS different from the new S-Class, other than electric power?
More Space, Power, and Tech
Well, its first advantage is space. As the EQS uses a dedicated electric architecture, with a wide, flat floor housing its 108-kWh battery and extremely compact electric drive units, it actually has much more interior space. While its 126.4-inch wheelbase is actually a touch shorter than the 126.6-inch wheelbase of the new S-class, the EQS’ cabin makes much more use of the wheelbase, its greenhouse flowing in one smooth shape to the front and rear of the car – there is no “box” up front housing the engine to waste interior space. The upshot is a car that feels immediately more spacious and luxurious.
In America, the EQS also comes equipped as standard with Mercedes-Benz’s new Hyperscreen, a giant, all-digital dashboard that actually incorporates several touchscreens into one beautiful glass panel spanning the entire width of the cabin. It not only looks like it’s been beamed in straight from the future; it makes the car’s multifaceted controls easier to navigate.
Power is another area where the EQS eclipses the new S-Class. There are two new versions of the S-Class, powered by high-tech turbocharged gasoline engines with a mild-hybrid system for additional efficiency: the top S-Class at $117,700 has a V8 with 496 hp and 516 lb-ft. Powered by twin electric motors with single-speed transmission, the top EQS has 516 hp and 631 lb-ft of torque – and can dash to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds versus the S580’s 4.4 seconds. All without any noise, any gear shifting, or any drama. While the S580 4Matic has all-wheel drive, the mechanical differentials and gearboxes don’t act nearly as fast as the EQS580’s infinitely-variable 4Matic system, which can instantaneously shuttle power to the wheels with the most grip in adverse weather conditions.
Mercedes-Benz Does Not Compromise
No surprise that the electric Benz is faster and more powerful – but the killer bit is that it’s also a lot more efficient, and therefore less expensive to run. The S580 is efficient for a gas car packed with power and luxury, but it gets an EPA estimated 25 MPG, so you’ll be filling its 22.2-gallon fuel tank frequently. The EQS580’s 340-mile EPA estimated range is not far off what you’ll get in the real world from a full tank in the S580 – and it’s rated at 97 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) – demonstrating just how much more efficiently electric motors convert energy into forward motion.
Given the cost of fuel these days, it won’t be long before the electric EQS580 will be saving you hundreds, if not thousands, versus the cost of running a gasoline S580. Charging it overnight plugged into the wall in your garage will cost a fraction of what you’ll spend on premium fuel – and every EQS comes with two years of free 30-minute charging sessions on the ultra-fast Electrify America charging network.
Here’s the kicker: you’re not even going to have to pay much more up front for the electric car. Traditionally, going electric has carried a substantial premium versus conventional gasoline, but the EQS580 starts at $119,110, less than $2,000 more than the base S580 4Matic. It’s a signal from Mercedes-Benz that electric’s time has truly come.