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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV review

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Published: 31 Jul 2023
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The EQS 580 is a pretty rapid device for something this size, and it has the handling smarts to match. But really, travelling at full tilt in a vehicle like this is an heroically daft thing to do. Give it the beans once to confirm it can do it, or maybe during a spirited overtake, but the name of the game here is refinement and mindfulness.

It's wafty then?

This side of a Rolls-Royce Spectre or BMW i7, we can’t think of anything else that’s as hushed as the EQS SUV on the move. Tyre and wind noise are the enemies in high-end electric cars, but this plus-size Mercedes is exemplary. Various body cavities contain special acoustic foam, and there are trick seals on the doors and windscreen. The motors are specially encased, and the drive units are double insulated thanks to rubber mounts. There are even recesses in the floor to minimise annoying ‘structure-borne’ sound and vibration.

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In fact, the EQS SUV is so good that it seeks to almost entirely disconnect you from the apparently irritating business of actually driving. This may well be the ideal scenario for anyone who has the £130k (and up) that the EQS SUV costs – they probably have a FTSE 100 company to run or assets to strip – but you do end up feeling somewhat… anaesthetised.

Various soundscapes are available to enliven things, though none mimic ‘Ace of Spades’ by Motörhead, more’s the pity. Silver Waves or Roaring Pulse, anyone? That second one is an OTA upgrade.

It's quiet, but does that mean it’s comfortable?

The EQS SUV’s suspension uses a four-link set up at the front and multi-link rear, with Mercedes’ AirMatic air springs and variable damping control as standard. The ride height can be raised by up to 25mm up to 50mph, but above 68mph it automatically lowers by 10mm in Comfort mode and 15mm in Sport to optimise aero efficiency.

Mercedes decided against electric anti-roll bars, but their absence isn’t felt. The thing rides beautifully, although combined with the absolute lack of noise things can get a bit floaty and numb – it’s a strange sensation but has to be experienced to be understood.

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What about the powertrain?

The 4Matic set-up allows for a continuously variable torque distribution, depending on what you’re after. In the pursuit of maximum efficiency, the front axle motor can be turned off altogether. If you’ve lost your mind and temporarily confused the EQS SUV for an AMG GT Black Series, torque is juggled seamlessly between all four wheels to maximise traction and acceleration. If you’re on snow and ice, the system detects spinning wheels and adjusts the torque distribution accordingly.

In addition to the usual Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes, the SUV naturally adds an Off-Road function, which works with or without the electronic stability programme on. The brakes, traction control and what Mercedes calls ‘downhill speed regulation’ (hill descent, if you like) are all in play here.

Although this car was never meant to be a full-blown mud-plugger, it's surprising how much terrain it can handle. We’re talking ruts like sine waves for maximum axle articulation, slippery rubble downhill sections, and acute departure angles (the short rear overhang is useful).

Plus, the (optional) rear steering angle of 10° – the standard active rear axles works up to 4.5° – doesn’t just help you evacuate otherwise terrifying multi-storey car parks and reduce the turning circle from 11.9 to 11m, it means you can make an uphill turn sandwiched between two giant fir trees without breaking into a sweat. Not that any prospective EQS SUV owner is ever likely to risk their 22-inch wheels articulating the axles.

It’s safe too, right?

The EQS SUV is an exemplar in passive and active safety, with an array of assistance features and packages. Experience with the latest S-Class suggests that some of them – Active brake assist with cross-traffic function, for example – can be overzealous. And honestly, does anyone really need or use Remote Parking Assist?

Anything else you don’t like?

Brake feel, as on the EQS and EQE, is inconsistent, and certainly the only significant issue in a largely fault-free if anodyne driving experience. Three levels of energy recuperation are available: D+ for coasting, D for normal regen, and D- which delivers more.

D-Auto is an adaptive setting that’s constantly playing with the regen depending on the conditions. The effect is strong, but it definitely benefits range, plus it means you don’t have to play with the over-sensitive pedal as often. Still, slowing the EQS SUV down feels like trying to curtail a runaway oil tanker with nothing but a rubber band.

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