The Made In India Mercedes-Benz Electric Flagship Is Truly Special

By Afzal Rawuther

The locally made Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic is a marvel of technology, performance, luxury, and most importantly, range

Headline numbers matter a great deal when it comes to automobiles, particularly so with EVs. With the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic, these numbers are truly remarkable — 857km of ARAI-certified range, a 0-100kmph time of 4.3 seconds, a 107.8kWh battery, and the ability to be topped up with a 200kW charger. Any of these numbers in isolation would have been impressive, but all that together and we have an automobile that is certainly worthy of your attention.

With the launch of the EQS, India becomes the only country outside Germany where Mercedes-Benz’ electric flagship is assembled. The AMG variant of Merc’s top-of-the-line electric sedan, with much of the same hardware, is a staggeringly quick sedan. The EQS 580 is built on the same all-electric platform as the EQS 53 4Matic+. Being assembled locally makes it cheaper by nearly Rs 90 lakh when compared to the fully imported AMG variant. It even manages to undercut its ICE sibling, the S-Class, by Rs 5 lakh due to a lower 5 percent GST rate as opposed to the 28 percent for the S-Class. With the lower taxation on EVs, the EQS 580 will turn out to be an easy Rs 30 lakh cheaper on-road when compared to the S-Class.

At first glance, it has to be said that the EQS doesn’t look like any other Mercedes-Benz. The classic three box shape has given way to a ‘monobox’ design, which makes it stand out in a crowd. It gives the car a coupe-like shape. Mercedes-Benz claims that this has helped it achieve a drag coefficient of 0.20, the lowest for any production car in the world (interestingly, the EQS 53 has a Cd of 0.23).

The one bow design that extends all the way from the bonnet (which cannot be opened without help from a technician) to the perfectly aerodynamic roof that falls neatly to the rear hatch, gives the EQS 580 a stunning look. The design manages to mask the proportions of the car. Only when you are closer to the vehicle that you realise it is 5.2 metres in length.

The extremely aerodynamic shape with none of the usual constraints that you’d have for an ICE car means that there are no sharp cuts or creases anywhere. The blacked-out grille screams Mercedes with a healthy smattering of small three-pointed stars besides the big one bang in the middle. The bumper is not as aggressive as on the AMG variant, and so are the wheels, which, in an effort to make the ride more comfortable, are 20-inches, unlike the 21s on the AMG.

On the sides, the pop-out door handles do their bit to help with aerodynamics, and add a touch of drama. The wrap-around tail lamps are connected by a chunky light bar which together make for a fuss-free rear bumper design. The boot almost feels like a hatchback because of how it opens up, and the sheer amount of space inside (610 litres).

Swipe your finger across the door handle and it pops out smartly for you to open the door. On the inside, the striking 56-inch MBUX Hyperscreen takes up almost all the space on the dash. The Hypercreen is made up of three separate displays on the enormous glass panel — one for the driver, one for infotainment and one for the co-passenger. More than its size, it is the design and ease of use that makes it stand out.

Mercedes-Benz has what it likes to call a zero-layer menu, which makes getting to the most important features and settings very easy. As soon as you settle yourself into the comfortable seats with the cloud-like pillows for the headrest, you notice that the designers have spared no effort in making the driving experience stress free. As you login (yes, you can login to the car to access all your saved settings and preferences), with face, voice or fingerprint recognition, the car sets the seat according to your height, and the mirrors get adjusted just by looking at them.

As you get going, you realise how effortless using the MBUX Hyperscreen is. There is so much screen real estate that you rarely have to dig through the menu to find something. The fidelity and overall quality of the display are otherworldly, something I have not seen in another vehicle. Every touch, tap and swipe gets a response with negligible latency. Not just that, the sheer computing power that’s at the disposal of the MBUX system means that it makes recommendations based on previous inputs and patterns. For instance, if you call a friend or loved one at the same time every day, it will offer that as a recommendation when you are in the car. Or for that matter, if you tend to use a particular massage function frequently, it will offer that up after a long work day.

As you start moving, the quietness of the EQS sets in. The cabin is superbly insulated and very little of the outside world makes its presence felt inside. The quality of materials in the cabin are on par with the S-Class and the car cocoons you like few others can. The leather wrapped steering wheel is chunky and great to hold with trackpad controls for the infotainment and the instrument cluster. The front seats are ventilated and heated with massage functions. The cabin is very spacious overall with loads of legroom for the seats at the rear. The lack of a transmission tunnel definitely helps with this and the sense of space is amplified by the twin sunroofs. Passengers in the back have access to a tablet at the center armrest to control the infotainment and climate control.

As you pick up speed, you come to terms with the amount of performance on tap. With 523hp of power and 855 Nm of torque being sent to the motors, one powering each axle, the EQS 580 makes light work of anything you demand. Unlike most EVs, this car is not just quick on a 0-100kmph burst. Overtaking slow moving vehicles is easy, and high speeds, where it is permitted, is always available on tap.

The ride and handling are as good as the power and performance. The EQS 580 comes equipped with air suspension as standard. That means that it soaks up everything you throw its way with ease. However it is not as if you cannot feel the undulations and potholes on the road. Instead, the suspension takes the edge off the sharpest of bumps while still retaining underlying firmness, which make for better handling. And talking of bumps, if you come across a particularly nasty speed breaker, you can raise the height of the car by 15 mm to sail over it (the car will even remember the GPS location for the next time and will raise the ride height on its own).

The well weighted steering wheel is extremely accurate and even though it isn’t very communicative, the EQS 580 is very easy to place on the road. This is aided by how nimble this 2.5-ton plus car is. There is a very little hesitancy when it comes to quick direction changes, and the chassis and suspension do their bit in keeping the car planted at high speeds. The tyres too offer loads of grip. The limits of mechanical grip are far beyond what can be safely exploited on public roads. It is safe to say that the EQS 580 will not disappoint even the most demanding customers when it comes to the ride and handling.

There are levels of regeneration that you can control with the paddles with the strongest one making a case for one-pedal driving. You can easily drive around the city with minimal effort, thanks to the regenerative braking after a long day at the office. But that said, as with most EVs, the brake pedal does suffer from a lack of feedback, and the wooden feel. The bite at the very top of the pedal is very little, but it builds up progressively as you go further. To be fair, there is enough stopping power and more, but the brake pedal, at least initially, gives the impression that there isn’t. The weight of the car also adds to this. What you would have absolutely no complaints while driving around in the city is the very small turning circle.

Mercedes-Benz is offering the first 500 buyers the complimentary rear-wheel steering on their car. This makes the EQS 580 feel more like a compact sedan than a 5.2-meter-long luxury car, making it very easy to drive and park in the city. It even improves agility at higher speeds.

Finally, we come to the range. Quite unusual for range to be talked about so late for an EV, but the EQS 580 has the highest rated range of any EV in the country. In the real world, even with some spirited driving, the computer onboard indicates a comfortable 600+km on a full charge, which is truly mind boggling. Yes, it is a huge battery pack, and will take longer to charge at our slow public chargers, but Mercedes-Benz promises to install faster chargers at important highway stops and Mercedes-Benz dealerships. And for the most part, you’d be charging the EQS at home.

The EQS 580 is an exceptional car, probably the most important one for the company in quite some time. And Mercedes-Benz has achieved everything it set out to do with the EQS. It is as luxurious as you’d expect the electric alternative to the S-Class to be. It is packed to the gills with technology and creature comforts and, perhaps most importantly, it alleviates any concerns you’d have around range while delivering incredible performance. All of this, at a price that undercuts the S-Class —Rs 1.55 crore ex-showroom, which makes it all the more appealing.

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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