Why the non-AMG EQS is my favorite electric car on sale
And why it comes as the underdog of the moment
The Rivian R1-T is a brilliant electric vehicle. It's capable on-road with a soft ride and reassuring range but also competitive when the going gets really tough, putting some of the most renowned off-roaders to shame. The gear tunnel gets the award for "most useful place to store stuff safely but that you can also access from the cabin", it does 0 to 60 mph in a ridiculous 3 seconds, and most of all, by the looks of interior and exterior fit and finish, you can't really tell the R1-T is just coming out as a company's first try.
It also looks the part, drives very nicely around corners despite its elephant-like weight, and... it's $40.000 cheaper than the similarly packaged Hummer EV which comes from one of the biggest names in the auto industry, GM. Therefore, it's attracting new customers because of the both different and brilliantly thought out vehicle it is.
I will get to the EQS eventually and all of this will make sense
On the other side of things with a completely different approach to how an electric car should look, there's the Ioniq 5. With this electric car, Hyundai clearly focused on the SUV's angled and rough exterior looks, turning it into the Ioniq 5's party piece amongst other battery cars.
The body is unrefined yet clean, the rectangular light graphics are somewhat simple but truly original. All of these add up to eighter giving the Ioniq 5 a futuristic or a retro look, both of which are extremely trendy at the moment. Inside, the wave of originality keeps on going. You get a magnet to the left of the large panel of screens, the floating center console means there's nothing linking the armest to the rest of the dashboard. The steering wheel doesn't even have a Hyundai badge stuck on it but rather foud dots engraved in its center. All in all, Hyundai's now got people's attention and confidence as the Ioniq 5 offers a fresh vision of the electric car while ticking all of the EV essentials such as sufficient range, a calm driving experience, and instant power on demand.
Both the Rivian R1-T and Ioniq 5 then are electric vehicles I respect a lot. And from the latest news, I'm not the only one as they've convinced people of how cool and different the cars of tomorrow could be.
And now, It's time to address the matter of the EQS. Before its unveiling last year, everyone had in mind the sleek and futuristic Vision EQS concept car Mercedes had teased us with and the great promises that they'd given on the next generation features the car would bring, making it the "the best" electric car on the market today.
Then came the day of the unveiling. As it turned out, we were disappointed by the exterior looks, amazed by the interior "hyper-screen", and then moved on to the next "revolutionary" new electric car. And since that day, not much has happened. Not much has been said. And for one thing, we're not entirely to blame: the exterior looks like... a traditional Mercedes only with weird proportions, no incredibly new innovative technology got showcased, and it won't even do 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds unless you pay Mercedes $150.000 for the AMG version.
But here's the catch: we may not talk about it, but the EQS is a great EV.
The thing is, I could go on and on about features that the EQS should be known for and the new technologies that Mercedes gave their electric saloon, turning it into the car of tomorrow. And in fact, I will.
For instance, you get fingerprint recognition in the car as a way for the car to "adapt" to the current driver, changing the seat and steering wheel positions, ambient-lighting preferences, and your chosen layout of the gauge cluster as well as for up to seven different drivers. When it comes to actually configuring your ideal driving position, instead of doing it manually with buttons and switches finely finished in aluminum, you can ask the car to do it for you. It will then measure your height, width, and different parts of your body so that it can, accordingly, adjust the position of both the seat and the steering wheel. And while your occasional passenger waits for you to finish fiddling around, they can do the same kind of stuff on their screen because of course, the EQS's "hyper screen" situation offers three screens and the front passenger gets their very own. As a result, the person to your left can also enter navigation addresses, change radio and music settings, make phone calls, go into the seat and massage menus, and overall, prevent the driver from getting distracted on the move. If though, you're driving along on the motorway and fancy retaking control of the screens you paid for and your freedom in general, the EQS offers a reassuring "cruise control situation".
Firstly, this system means you can take your hands off the wheel and your feet of the pedals completely so long as you nudge the steering wheel from time to time, giving the car the information that you're still behind the wheel. When you're in this mode, the world-class heads-up display in front of you projects symbols under the car you're following at any moment.
This, with other information displayed such as direct navigation indications thanks to arrows showing up right in your line of sight, will make the driver feel a lot more confident about relying on the systems as they are permanently up-to-date with what the car is actually "seeing".
These features along with so many others that I haven't mentioned will make small differences in the ownership experience. These details are partly what make the EQS so special. But that's barely scratching the surface.
Of course, the EQS is just as comfortable as the S-class as some journalists are reporting, the interior is extremely well-finished, the latest generation of MBUX powering the screens is the easiest, most responsive, and cleanest-looking in the industry, and around 450 miles of range on careful driving is pretty remarkable these days. But to me, it goes deeper than that.
To me, the EQS's X factor, what truly separates it from all sorts of other electric cars is its pure sense of earnesty. While the Ioniq 5, Honda e, or Polestar 2 attract because of their original looks, while Tesla's party tricks are their ridiculous speed off the mark and unpredictable gimmicks, and while some manufacturers rely on the use of legendary names such as Mach-e or Turbo S in Ford and Porsche's cases, the EQS on the other hand, is equal to itself. It doesn't wish to stand out from the crowd for its speed, name, or wild new technologies. It's simply focused on bringing Mercedes' legendary state of luxury and comfort to a new market with a large electric saloon. Let's face it, the "Hyper-screen" inside is the most hyped feature of the entire car and it only exists because Mercedes is always improving on everything and so a larger, quicker, and more usable screen was always going to turn up. Even the overall shape of the car which has proven to be very controversial pursues the theme of going all out on the brand's first luxurious electric car and simply putting it out there without trying to please everyone and grab as much attention as possible.
Mercedes went with this weirdly proportioned body for two main reasons. For one thing, it allows them to hit their target of the lowest drag coefficient of any other electric car on the market: 0.20 CX. Secondly, with the windscreen further to where the center of the front wheels are than traditionally and the end of the roof finishing off much later than usual, it means Mercedes can fully take advantage of the EQS having more space onboard without an internal combustion engine to store. All in all, passengers get additional room to stretch out in the cabin as well as an airy feel when sitting down.
The point I want to make is that Mercedes knew that because of how it looked, some would call the EQS wrong and that our attention wouldn't be grabbed as much as by other EVs due to the lack of exciting features it hosted. What the EQS did instead, was focus on being the best luxury EV Mercedes could come up with and make the best use of being powered by electricity with more room inside and a sleeker body. As a result, it doesn't care about being a big and heavy rival to others, and nor is it a true contender to other electric sedans for that reason. It's also why I don't like the AMG version of the EQS and it isn't even because of its eye-watering starting price of $150.000. It's more to do with how they're playing the same game as everyone else and going for attention with impressive performance figures. Most of all though, it defeats the main purpose of the EQS which is luxury and a pure, elegant presence.
I'm personally a fan of the exterior design especially around the rear where, from some angles, the car nearly turns into some sort of a shooting brake. I also like the interior for the choice of beautiful materials and the impression that the screens run across the entire length of the dashboard. But what makes me really happy, is that Mercedes didn't fall into the same trap as everyone else and that the EQS is turning out to be part of one of the most special motoring breeds a car can belong to: an underdog.
Thanks for reading.