It might not look like an electric sports car, but the first all-electric Mercedes-AMG EQS certainly feels like one. What presents itself to the world as a traditional model in the car brand’s storied lineup is, under the hood, clearly a car for the post-Tesla world.
The performance version of Mercedes’ first electric sedan is arriving in the U.S. early next year, the German automaker announced Sunday. It looks similar to the original EQS variants that just came out this month, but the AMG configuration (that’s the name of Mercedes’ performance line) has plenty of flashy ways to turn heads on the Autobahn and interstate.
Some are skin-deep. The AMG-trained eye will immediately notice the vertical struts on the front grille indicating it’s the high-performance version. Inside, the seats have a sporty look and you’ll find the AMG graphic on the seats and headrests.
Credit: Sasha Lekach / Mashable
But during a two-plus-hour drive in the AMG EQS from Palm Springs to Manhattan Beach, California, earlier this month, I gained a deeper appreciation for the newest EV from Mercedes. It’s electric luxury through and through, from the sleek door handles to the impressive acceleration. With over 330 miles of range on a big 107.8 kWh battery, it’s an electric powerhouse.
Its AMG features come through despite the bigger, S-Class sized vehicle with a full trunk and roomy backseat. This isn’t technically a sports car but it still hustles going from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds with a 155 mph top speed. That’s faster than the base EQS models that take up to 5.5 seconds.
The performance EQS has a long legacy to live up to, and the expected (unannounced) price will certainly keep up with Mercedes-level expectations. The EQS starts at $102,310, so the AMG version will kick it up a notch.
The steering wheel is one of the notable differences from the non-AMG, with a thicker grip, flat bottom, and extra buttons for quick access to different drive modes, like slippery for wet conditions or comfort, sport, or sport+ for those different driving situations. For the true AMG aficionados, the secret way to uncover the “race start” feature still involves pressing on the pedals in a certain order — like in other (non-electric) models.
Since it’s an EV with no internal combustion engine, it’s a fairly silent ride. That must be why Mercedes added what it calls an “AMG sound experience” (AKA fake engine-inspired noises) when the car is in performance modes. This feels like a desperate attempt from Mercedes to hold onto its traditional gas-powered legacy, and it’s ultimately unnecessary. But for anyone mourning revving engine sounds, turn up the volume.
In contrast to the “AMG sound experience” the giant door-to-door dash screen shows that Mercedes now has both feet firmly planted in the 21st century. Called the Hyperscreen, this screen stands out as one of the standard features on the AMG EQS (usually a $9,000 add-on). While cruising through the California desert, I went deep into the “zero layer” touchscreen experience. The zero layer layout tries to learn your preferences over time, and reduces sub menus and other potential distractions. I quickly adjusted to the large size, especially since it made it easy to get to the massage settings for the driver and passenger seats while driving.
The immense width of the screen makes for a unique passenger experience. The co-pilot gets their own dedicated screen real estate, meaning they can take over music and other media playing or browse different features and settings. The passenger doesn’t need the driver’s permission to initiate a massage.
The oversized hyperscreen really shines with mapping tasks. I didn’t even miss Google Maps while using the built-in navigation system. I could add in stops along the way, plan my trip based on charge levels, and see nearby charging stations.
On the screen behind the steering wheel (which is not a touchscreen, but controlled through buttons on the wheel) I could set the display to show the map view, a nice touch that reminded me of the Google Maps integration in Polestar and Volvo.
But being a luxury Mercedes, even the navigation goes the extra mile. On the main 17.7-inch center screen or in the heads-up display projected in front of the driver on the windshield, you can opt in to see augmented reality directions. So if you need to turn right, giant blue arrows will point toward the right. On the main screen, a live video image is displayed with an AR layer showing what lane you should be in or what direction you’ll be heading.
Even though I only used up less than half the battery on my drive (thanks to an efficient regeneration system while braking and going downhill), I headed to a charging station to see what it’d be like during a road trip. Through the navigation system built in I found a nearby ChargePoint station at a hospital parking lot. It said a few chargers were available, which I confirmed with my eyes as I pulled in.
These were standard Level 2 chargers, but the EQS can handle faster charging on 200 kW DC fast-charging plugs, which add 180 miles in 19 minutes.
Although I didn’t charge up, I saw how easy it would be. While in the parking lot, two women walked by and ogled the car. Seeing their interest I showed them around the vehicle and the massive screen. One asked about range and was impressed when I told her it could go more than 300 miles. They were even more impressed when I said I’d used the driver assistance system, which comes standard, for a lot of the freeway driving, and that it could even change lanes for me if I put on my indicator.
While driving through LA county’s typical stop-and-go traffic I didn’t feel so sporty, but every once in a while I’d need to get to an exit or shake a tailgater, and I would zip over. Drivers of those LA cars probably rolled their eyes at a classic LA situation: getting outmaneuvered by a flashy Mercedes. But this was different from all those other times. It was an electric Mercedes.