Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV Preview Drive
If there were ever an atmosphere that could complement the powerful presence of Merc's newest models, the EQE and EQS SUVs, it would be Sandton's Inanda Polo Club during the Heineken All-Invitational.
The big news here is that Mercedes-Benz is one of the first local luxury brands to dare offer its flagship SUVs as full electric offerings without the hybrid middleman, if you also count BMW's iX. While hybrids no doubt have their place in the hierarchy as the world attempts to transition towards cleaner transportation means, Mercedes has made a statement: the future of luxury motoring is electric.
The most obvious clue that this is a non-ICE model is the styling. It's fluid and futuristic, and every crevice, or rather lack thereof, on the EQ models serves a dual purpose as Merc has seamlessly married form and function. Styling, yes, but the lines on the body mostly serve the aerodynamic purpose of directing airflow for optimal aerodynamics. Even the wheel styling is optimised to reduce turbulence and make it as slippery as possible. The effect? Fewer trips to your local fast charger.
EQS SUV Power and Performance
Nestled on the floor of the flagship EQS 450 SUV is a robust lithium-ion battery with a 108.4kWh capacity that's estimated to deliver a range of 616km. That's if you don't exploit the full effect 265kW and 800Nm of torque that's on offer from the electric motors for any prolonged periods.
Between charges, some range can be reclaimed on the EQS with its onboard energy recuperation technology. While nothing new on EVs, the 'one-pedal-drive' system is a unique experience in that, in theory, it's not necessary to touch the brake pedal except for emergencies. The idea is that by modulating the inputs on the accelerator pedal, you can control acceleration and braking. By slowly letting off the loud pedal, some electric range can be recuperated thanks to an extensively complicated scientific principle that hinges on Newton's Law of Energy Transfer, which states energy can't be destroyed but only transferred. In short, a petrol-powered car's braking creates heat energy that's released back into the atmosphere. The same action on an EV creates a process involving kinetic energy that's then transferred back to the battery.
Merc's system is a bit more nuanced than that, though. Usually, this process on EVs is a rather binary operation that involves an on-and-off kind of operation. In the EQS, and in the name of keeping the beautifully crafted cabin as clutter-free as possible, Mercedes-Benz opted to add the operation of this system as paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It's an initially odd experience flicking the paddles that are normally reserved for gear changes in a combustion-engined car rather than on an EV, but the system makes sense. Drivers can choose between D+, also called sailing mode, for a pretty standard driving experience, D, which is a standard level of recuperation, or the aggressive form of routing energy back to the battery called D-.
Digital Navigation: A Glimpse into the Virtual Future
One of the standout features for me, besides the craftsman-quality cabin, is the digital navigational overlay, which superimposes directions on a real-time camera feed of the road ahead. Ultimately, this is where automotive tech is headed, with even tech giants like Google trying to develop similar systems for its portfolio. And yet Mercedes-Benz seems to be leading the charge here. However, while it’s a cutting-edge feature, it does come with some initial hiccups. There are moments when the point of instruction isn't entirely clear since a single-camera view can be restrictive in terms of distance perception. But, then again, as with all pioneering tech, refinement will come with time and repetition.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV is a bit like taking a peek into a crystal ball of the motorcar's future, and it's clear that Merc isn’t just testing the waters of electric mobility anymore; it has officially taken the leap. With its sleek design, premium cabin space, and innovative technological suite, the EQS SUV brilliantly showcases Mercedes-Benz's commitment to sustainable transportation. And it very well should, especially considering the EQS 450's starting price of R2,726,100.