2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS First Drive: Powerful, Quiet And Refined

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Thoughts of Mercedes’ AMG performance brand likely conjure images of raucous engines, tremendous horsepower and plenty of track performance. What doesn’t fit is an all-electric 17-foot-long sedan that makes virtually no sound. But the German automaker’s tradition of upping the power quotient with the AMG treatment continues with the introduction of the Mercedes-AMG EQS, a 107.8-kilowatt-hour battery EV with dual electric motors based on the Mercedes-Benz EQS.

The AMG EQS represents something special for the Afalterbach-based performance group, according to Philipp Schiemer, the CEO of Mercedes-AMG. “The Mercedes-AMG EQS is our first ambassador of a new era of AMG driving performance.” It offers power and a plethora of technology and panache to match, as it enters an increasingly crowded field of luxury electric vehicles from the likes of Tesla, Lucid and Porsche.

You can watch my video review of the EQS AMG via the World Car Awards Channel, below.

The Powertrain

While it’s technically not AMG’s first all-electric vehicle—that accolade goes to the Mercedes-AMG SLS Coupe Electric Drive that launched in 2013—the 2022 EQS is the first all-electric production vehicle the performance division has pursued. The Mercedes EQS is based both on the S-Class sedan and on the CLS, which was discontinued in 2020. The S-Class is the stretched baller of the Mercedes lineup that offers everything from massaging seats to some of the most advanced driver-assistance technologies on the market.

AMG added its special twist to the EQS electric sedan by tuning the front and rear motors to put down as much as 751 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque, at least for a short period with overboost. That’s still well short of the Lucid Air’s 1,111 horsepower and 1,390 pound-feet of torque, but—let’s be real—most drivers will never approach the limits of those figures when driving around town. That’s not the point of the AMG EQS, but it’s nice to know that the big heavy sedan can do zero-to-60 mph in a Mercedes-estimated 3.4 seconds.

In normal driving conditions, the AMG EQS gets 649-horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. It’s a considerable bit more than the 603 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque from the S63 with the twin-turbocharged V8. The AMG EQS is powered by a pair of permanent synchronous motors—one at the front and one at the back—cooled by a water lance that runs through the shaft of the motor. Mercedes says that this design keeps the motors cooler, allowing for higher performance. The motors push power to each of the wheels when needed, making the AMG EQS 4Matic an all-wheel-drive sedan.

Pricing or range estimates have not been announced, but the AMG EQS is built on 400-volt architecture and Mercedes says that on a DC Fast Charger, it can recoup 180 miles of additional range in about 18 minutes. The standard EQS has 478 miles of range even with the dual-motor setup (one version will have a single motor). Typically when EVs are tuned for performance the overall range is sacrificed.

The Drive

All-wheel drive came in handy on a Mercedes-Benz-hosted event in Palm Springs, California that offered a mix of city and highway driving up Route 243 set against a wet day that toggled between foggy and overcast to rainy and windy.

Upon entering and starting the AMG EQS, aside from the enormous 56-inch “hyperscreen,” most notable is what Mercedes calls the AMG Sound Experience, which, when set in “Authentic,” presents a bit like a combination of the Windows start-up and a spaceship landing. The other choice, “Performance,” sounds closer to an AMG gas-powered engine, though it certainly doesn’t approach the snort-blat from the Mercedes-AMG S63.

Once on the route, which comprised of straight and winding roads, the big AMG EQS agilely handled slick pavement at a relatively quick pace without a complaint, though, admittedly, even in the firmer Sport+ mode (one of the five offered on the AMG EQS) it didn’t invite being pushed.

While the brakes on the AMG EQS are upgraded from their standard form, they still felt less grabby than I prefer when wheeling a mammoth vehicle on twisting roads. I drove up the mountain with the regenerative setting in normal, then swapped to the more aggressive mode that allows for one-pedal driving on the way back down. The system is impressive and easy to get used to. I prefer to drive most EVs in the highest regenerative mode because it’s ideal in Los Angeles traffic.

While the AMG EQS is not a small vehicle, rear-wheel steering improves its maneuverability in tight parking lots. The system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels, up to 9 degrees, at speeds under 37 mph, effectively shortening the wheelbase of the long car, and making it feel more like a midsize sedan. At its heart, the AMG EQS is much more of a limousine cruiser than a canyon-carving sports car, but AMG’s tuning and additions offer a welcome reminder that there is more to be had should you want it.

The visual differences between the plain EQS and the AMG-EQS are rather subtle. Outside it gets an AMG grille, special wheels, some new strakes and a larger wing. While some will decry the exterior design of the EQS as pod or jellybean-like, it has purpose. Thanks in large part to its extremely low drag coefficient of 0.23 (only 0.03 more than the normal EQS), the AMG EQS is incredibly quiet on the road up to about 80 mph. At that speed, wind noise increases around the side view mirrors, though it’s not bothersome.

On long stretches of open highway—a rarity in Los Angeles regardless of departure time—the AMG EQS truly shines. It reaches blistering speeds quickly, makes silent and fast passes and cradles passengers over constant undulations in the concrete road which make a lot of cars feel unsettled.

The Tech and Interior: All About That Screen

The EQS is so chock full of technology distilling it to just a few highlights is tricky. Like the base EQS, the AMG EQS gets Mercedes’ new “Hyperscreen,” a 56-inch curved screen that stretches across the entire dash of the sedan. There are only two hard buttons on the dash: the Start button and the emergency flasher. All other commands are housed in one of three screens that lay under that one continuous piece of glass or accessed via the touch-capacitive controls or knobs on the steering wheel.

It’s all part of the new MBUX infotainment system. The Hyperscreen offers everything from really good augmented reality directions and pedestrian warnings, overlaying a live video feed of outside the car over navigation directions and stop lights, to search functions that find available chargers nearby or along your route.

The graphics are crisp and quick to respond when hauling along a winding road, though at times the instructions lagged as I approached a turn or needed to merge across four lanes of fast-moving highway traffic. When I did get off track the navigation system immediately rerouted me without hesitation.

For drivers that are opposed to using the massive touchscreen or the steering wheel controls, the robust voice recognition system activates with “Hey Mercedes” and gets commands right nearly every time. Commands can be as inconsequential as lowering the radio volume or larger tasks like changing the navigation direction.

Reducing Range Anxiety

Mercedes also made the question of charging a lot less anxiety-inducing by integrating charging locations into the navigation system. Say you’re planning a long drive and need to reach your destination with a certain percent of charge in reserve. You can plan your route through the screen and it will suggest charging spots that can be filtered by items like network preference (for example avoiding Tesla stations if you don’t have an adaptor) or the speed of charge.

If you don’t like a particular charging network, tapping on another will display how many stalls are available and online. You also can find out more about the network and the offered rate of charge. If traffic backs up and you use more charge on your trip than the system originally planned, it will alert and reroute you to a nearby charger to ensure that you get to your destination with plenty in reserve. While I didn’t get to try out the routing system or test out charging in the AMG EQS, I tested the charging network search system both through the voice control and via the Hyperscreen when parked. In both cases, it was very good, and seamless to use.

The AMG EQS offers a few different graphic setups for the instrument cluster and gets a standard head-up display that’s customizable to show data like drive efficiency, speed and battery charge. Overall, the MBUX system has always been one of the best, and the new Hyperscreen is just as intuitive thanks in large part to the “zero layer” approach that Mercedes takes, which puts everything that you need right at your fingertips when you need it.

Safety Systems

One of the most outstanding things about the Mercedes-AMG EQS is Mercedes’ suite of advanced driver-assistance systems or ADAS. The system in the AMG EQS is technically a Level 2 Autonomous system, though Level 3 is easily achievable once the regulations and roads in the U.S. come up to standard. Level 2 typically combines adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability and lane centering.

The leap between the SAE categories of Level 2 to Level 3 is changing from a driver-support feature to an “automated driving feature.” Level 3 features can drive the car under limited conditions, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The caveat is that the driver must take over if the vehicle request still exists, unlike Levels 4 and 5.

The ADAS system in the AMG EQS is approachable and comfortable to manage. Lane centering doesn’t bounce the car off the lane lines, the adaptive cruise control system behaves like a human driver in both fast-moving and stop-and-go traffic. The alerts that come up if your hands are off the wheel for too long or turn your eyes away from the road don’t feel as nagging as others. The reliability of the system helps eliminate fatigue when driving long distances.

Overall, the Mercedes AMG EQS 4Matic offers plenty of high-tech bells and whistles, with tons of performance features that make the first production all-electric sedan from AMG a luxury vehicle to reckon with. While some may wistfully recall the raucous sounds of a V8 or V12 engine, the new AMG EQS offers plenty to look forward to as the luxury performance brand moves into a powerful, tech-forward all-electric future.

Read my full review at Forbes Wheels.

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Abigail Bassett is a full-time freelance journalist, content creator, and television, video, and podcast host whose work has appeared in publications like TechCrunch, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, Motor Trend, Shondaland, Money Magazine, and on CNN. Her passion is telling unique stories that change the way we see, interact with, and relate to the world. She is also a Yoga Alliance Registered 500-hour yoga teacher.

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