For several years after the launch of the Tesla Model S, traditional automakers have been struggling to come up with competing products. EVs and autonomous driving were two things that most manufacturers were just not prepared for. But now, a number of products from the German elite are trying to change the status quo. They might have joined the party too late, but products such as the Porsche Taycan prove that on several counts, traditional carmakers are simply placed way better. One of the things that Tesla, even with its high prices and associated snob value, has never quite done exceedingly well is luxury. Mercedes, with its new electric flagship, the EQS, is looking to take on the might of Tesla. But no, it isn’t just a smattering of premium materials that should have you interested; it is the tech on offer that stands out.
To start with, let’s get the basics down: The first models being introduced to the U.S. market will be the EQS 450+ with 329hp and the EQS 580 4MATIC with 516hp and as the EQS is the all-electric equivalent of the S-Class, it will share a few of the dimensions including the total length.
Before we get into the tech on the inside, it is important to note a major engineering feat that Mercedes-Benz has achieved. The luxury sedan has a coefficient drag of 0.202, making it the most aerodynamic production car in the world. It is pertinent to note here that an extremely low Cd was one of the talking points of the Model S when it first arrived. All EQS models have an electric powertrain at the rear axle. The EQS 580 4MATIC, however, also gets an electric powertrain at the front axle making it all-wheel drive.
One version of the EQS has a 107.8 kWh battery with a staggering 478-mile WLTP range—way higher than any Tesla on sale currently and just below the upcoming Tesla Model S Plaid+’ 520-mile figure.
The EQS is loaded to the brim with driver-assistance features supported by ultrasound, camera, radar, and lidar sensors on the car. Adaptive cruise, lane detection and automatic lane changes, as well as steering assistance are all there, but what is interesting is the new additions such as the microsleep warning, which analyzes the driver’s eyelid movements through a camera on the driver’s display over speeds as low as 12mph.
There are a number of active-assist features, including an active blind-spot assist that can give a visual warning of potential lateral collisions at speeds of up to 124mph. It can even take corrective measures like one-sided braking intervention. The feature continues to be active even while parked and will warn against exiting if an object, cyclist, or pedestrian is in a dangerous spot.
An active emergency stop-assist feature is also present which can bring the EQS to a standstill if the sensors and software recognize that the driver is no longer responding to traffic conditions around the car. If the driver is unresponsive, acoustic and visual warnings appear in the instrument cluster along with some deceleration. Hazard warning lights are also activated and the driver’s seatbelt is briefly tensioned. If nothing else works, the system does a strong, short jab at the brakes as an additional warning, followed by the car being brought to a standstill.
There is also the option of an SAE Level 3 conditional automated driving system feature, which Mercedes-Benz calls “Drive Pilot”—something even Teslas don’t have. In fact, this level of autonomous driving isn’t allowed yet almost anywhere where the car will be sold.
The EQS is also clever in ways that other cars have never been before, all thanks to an AI developed to learn the driver’s behavior. The 350 sensors on board the EQS help it in this regard. Early car reviewers are already experiencing how good the AI can be in learning the user’s preferences even in a short amount of time.
The AI’s role is said to be clearly visible while using the MBUX infotainment system, which analyses past behavior and brings to the fore certain functions that a user might prefer to do at a given time, location, or after a sequence of actions. It isn’t just limited to the in-car infotainment; it also plays a role in the mechanics of the car itself. For example, the EQS will suggest raising the chassis to offer more ground clearance when passing through rough or challenging terrain.
And how can we not talk about the screens? The 56-inch screen (yes, you read that right!) sure has taken the internet by storm. But more than the screen real estate, it is how they communicate with each other that’s interesting.
The hyperscreen is actually three screens merging together behind one seamless piece of glass. The driver display is 12.3 inches, the central display is 17.7 inches, and the front passenger display is 12.3 inches. There are the screens at the back. If the driver intends for the rear passengers to watch a particular movie, a drag and swipe motion on the main screen will send the new programming to the rear. The passengers can also share programming with each other using a similar gesture. The screens, therefore, more than being individual units, are all connected and allow for interactivity between them.
All this and much more make the Mercedes-Benz EQS a revolutionary product. The ball is now firmly in Elon’s court.