Mercedes EQS Goes Head-to-Head with the Tesla Model X
Mercedes-Benz is continuing its top-down roll-out of electric models with the introduction of the EQS SUV, an all-new, avant-garde seven-seater SUV built on a brand-new all-electric platform. In its size, performance, range, and price, it’s the first high-end SUV from a legacy manufacturer to truly battle the falcon-winged Tesla Model X. The new electric Benz offers plenty of space, comfort and connectivity for up to seven passengers in its huge, high-tech interior. Thanks to powerful electric motors, 4MATIC all-wheel drive and an intelligent off-road driving mode, the EQS SUV is also capable of tackling light terrain with ease.
The new EQS SUV shares its exceptionally long wheelbase with the recently introduced EQS sedan, but is over eight inches higher. Thanks to the dedicated electric platform and a super-long wheelbase, the wheels are pushed right out to the corners, and the interior benefits fully from the large dimensions, without having to sacrifice space for an engine “room.” The second row of seats can be electrically adjusted as standard, and a third row with two additional individual seats and extensive features for all passengers is available as an option. Also, four golf bags will fit in the cargo area, remarkable for a vehicle of this footprint.
Aerodynamics is an area where the EQS SUV, much like its sedan counterpart, excels. A smooth underbody, slick front end with shuttered radiators, and the optimization of SUV-typical flow details have led to a unique combination of spaciousness and aerodynamic efficiency. The silhouette is exceptionally smooth and unadorned, beginning with the round front end, flowing over a steeply raked windshield to the rear spoiler. SUV-typical wheel arch claddings are black, as are the side sill panels, which reduces the visual volume of the vehicle. Optional running boards also offer aerodynamic advantages – and positively impact electric range. Flush door handles are also standard, tucking away when not needed.
The EQS: Performance and Range
Three versions of the EQS SUV have been announced, though it is not yet clear which versions will come to North America. The entry point is the EQS450+, which features rear-wheel drive and 355 hp. The EQS450 4Matic features the same power output, but twin motors up the torque from 418 lb-ft to 590 lb-ft for improved acceleration. The top-of-the-line EQS580 4Matic also has dual motors, but with a total power output of 536 hp and 632 lb-ft. Estimated range on the European WTLP cycle is between 315 and 410 miles, depending on usage and model – similar to, in some cases better than, the Model X.
Wheels range from 20 to 22 inches – giving the EQS SUV a sporty, robust character. Careful aerodynamic sculpting means the contribute to the vehicle’s high efficiency. The electric motors on the front and rear axles are permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM). The advantages of this design include high power density, high efficiency and high power constancy.
All three models have a 108.7-kWh battery, a 400-volt electrical system and can be charged at up 9.6 kW on a Level 2 home charger or up to 200 kW on a DC fast charger; going from 10 to 80 per cent on a DC charger can take as little as half an hour. These are excellent figures, better than the Tesla Model X, if not class-leading. Porsche’s Taycan Cross Turismo has an 800-volt electrical system that helps ingest public electrons a bit faster.
The chassis of the new EQS SUV has four-corner air suspension with continuously adjustable damping as standard, meaning the vehicle can be raised and lowered depending on driving situation – lower for more efficiency when cruising at high speed, higher for traversing rough roads or cottage trails. Rear-axle steering with a steering angle of up to 4.5 degrees is standard, making the turning circle surprisingly tight despite how large the vehicle is.
The Biggest Screen You’ve Ever Seen
The EQS SUV’s “Hyperscreen” is the highlight of its the interior. This large, curved screen unit spans almost the entire width of the cabin. It actually integrates three screens under a common bonded glass cover, merging them visually into one display. Haptic feedback means that when a finger touches the screen, actuators trigger a perceptible vibration, giving the impression of a mechanical switch. The displays also have force feedback; different levels of pressure on the glass change the response.
The Hyperscreen not only gives the driver an unprecedented range of options for instrument and center console displays, but also gives the front passenger the ability to watch content such as streaming video or TV. An intelligent, camera-based blocking logic recognizes if the driver is looking to the front-passenger display and automatically dims the dynamic content. If the front passenger seat is not occupied, the screen becomes a digital decorative image.
Two different head-up displays (HUD) are available, including an innovative augmented reality version with an especially large image. The effective display area on the windshield corresponds to a 77-inch screen! Augmented reality provides extensive content for driving assistance systems and navigation information, blending the graphics into the surroundings, reducing distraction.
Beyond infotainment, the EQS SUV also is equipped to download completely new vehicle functions can via over-the-air updates (OTA). For example, Trailer Maneuvering Assist or augmented reality navigation can be activated even after the vehicle is purchased with a few taps and swipes.
Of course, being a flagship Benz, there’s a veritable alphabet soup of driver assistance systems on offer. Distronic active cruise control, which can automatically maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, including braking to a stop, is standard, as is an active lane keeping assistant to warn you when you stray from your intended lane. A blind-spot assistant system is standard, along with an exit warning function that monitors the vehicle’s surroundings so you don’t, for instance, open your door into the path of a passing cyclist. Optional extras include an active steering assistant, evasive steering assist, and active brake assistant with cross-traffic function, which monitors the risk of collision with vehicles ahead, crossing or oncoming. The system can give the driver a visual and audible warning if a collision is imminent, and if the driver's braking response is too weak, can assist by increasing the brake pressure, or even initiate autonomous emergency braking if the driver fails to respond.
On the Way to Zero Emissions
The EQS SUV is a building block in Mercedes-Benz’s plan to fulfill its ambitions to be zero emissions by 2039. The company claims it is produced in a completely CO-neutral way. It will be manufactured in America at the company’s plant at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Starting MSRP for the EQS is $105,550 and it is arriving in showrooms now.