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2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 review: First drive

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As the first dedicated electric vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, the EQS luxury sedan is meant to represent the automaker’s future. And, as the first all-electric AMG model, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 signals the brand’s future of electric performance cars.

The AMG EQS 53 lives up to the promise made by those iconic three letters, at least in terms of straight-line pace. It’s capable of 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds, and features standard all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering to provide dynamic confidence during high-speed manoeuvres.

Does the EQS 53’s all-electric pedigree translate to a high-performance luxury sedan that can save the planet without compromising the enthusiast’s need for heart-pounding driver engagement? Well…

How much does the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 cost?

Australian pricing for the AMG EQS 53 hasn’t been confirmed yet, and will be released closer to its market launch Down Under in the first half of 2022.

The combustion-engined Mercedes-Benz S-Class kicks off at $240,700 plus on-road costs in Australia, climbing to $335,100 for the AMG-engined S580 L and topping out at $574,000 for the Mercedes-Maybach S680 with its iconic twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12.

In the US the Benz-badged EQS easily undercuts the Porsche Taycan 4S in its top specification – the latter priced from $189,800 plus on-roads. Expect a sticker price starting with a ‘2’, then.

Worth noting also is the Tesla Model S Plaid, which at $186,990 plus on-road costs offers manic straight-line performance (760kW) for less money than the mid-spec Porsche as well as the projected bracket of the EQS 53.

What do you get?

As a Mercedes-AMG product you can expect a high level of standard luxury and performance features, and as the performance division’s first electric vehicle boasts an impressive technology pedigree.

Highlights include: 

  • AMG-specific dual electric drive motors (484kW/950Nm)
  • 400-volt, 107.8 kWh battery with up to 586 km electric range (WLTP)
  • 4MATIC+ dynamic all-wheel drive system with specific AMG tuning
  • Four-wheel steering (up to 9 degrees of rear-wheel angle rotation)
  • AMG Sound Experience (specific internal and external drivetrain sounds)
  • Three-stage, driver-adjustable regenerative braking system
  • High-performance composite brakes with six-piston front calipers
  • AMG Ride Control adaptive air suspension
  • AMG Dynamic Select modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual)
  • 21-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres designed for the EQS 53
  • Synthetic Artico leather seats with Neotex grain and red contrast stitching
  • AMG flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in nappa leather
  • AMG illuminated door sill plates with an interchangeable cover
  • MBUX Hyperscreen (three HD touchscreens spanning the entire dash)
  • Digital Light adaptive headlights

Optional features in other markets include:

  • AMG Dynamic Plus package
    • Maximum power increases to 560kW/1020Nm
    • Race Start drive mode added to access increased power
    • Top speed increases from 220km/h to 250km/h
    • Additional AMG sound experience settings
  • AMG Night Package Dark Chrome
  • Red brake calipers
  • AMG carbon trim
  • AMG nappa leather seats with specific AMG graphics
  • Ceramic composite brake system
  • 22-inch wheels with aerodynamic optimization
  • AMG Track Pace software for recording vehicle performance

Is the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 safe?

The Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 is equipped with forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist and lane departure warning as well as adaptive cruise control, self-parking assist, and pedestrian detection.

More impressive are the lengths Mercedes-Benz went to with regard to battery protection. Through an extruded aluminium process, the automaker created a strong underbody housing around the battery pack described as a “crash protected area in the underbody, embedded in the body shell” with energy absorbing structures fully encasing the battery pack.

The company also tested the battery’s durability during both heavy shock loads and in the case of a foreign object penetrating the casing.

Extreme temperature and overcharging conditions were also tested, and software monitoring ensures the battery switches off if temperature, voltage or insulation faults occur. The system can even detect an impact when the EQS 53 is stationary and charging (i.e. another car hits it).

The EQS recently scored five stars in Euro NCAP testing, with category scores of 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 91 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road users and 80 per cent for safety assist.

Expect this rating to be carried over to ANCAP when the EQS launches next year, with a 2021 datestamp.

What is the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 like on the inside?

With a seamless, high-definition touchscreen stretching from A-pillar to A-pillar there’s no denying the EQS 53’s high-tech atmosphere before you even slide behind the wheel.

While the screen looks like a single monitor, it actually combines a 12-inch instrument cluster with a 17-inch central touchscreen and a 12-inch passenger screen.

Powered by OLED technology, these screens feature bright, crisp images and icons that are relatively intuitive, though the sheer depth of the user interface will require dedication to understand all the car’s systems and settings.

Technology clearly plays a central role, but the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53’s cabin also features the premium materials and high-quality switchgear we’ve come to expect from the Three-Pointed Star.

The standard sport seats offer long-distance comfort as well as high lateral support, and they’re covered in a synthetic leather that doesn’t feel like a compromise, though traditional buyers can opt for traditional Nappa leather if they’re not convinced. 

Standard Nappa leather covers the steering wheel rim, while intuitive controls on the steering wheel’s spokes make it easy to adjust driving modes, cruise control and audio settings.

You can also hit the voice command button and just tell the EQS 53 what you want – it listens better, and is more accommodating than many humans. Paddle shifters just beyond the wheel allow quick access to the EQS 53’s three recuperative braking levels, too.

Rear-seat accommodation is similarly plush, with yet another touchscreen to engage rear passengers. It’s worth noting the EQS 53 boasts an aerodynamic 0.23 coefficient of drag, but that sloping roofline cuts rear headroom compared to traditional large luxury sedans.

However, that same hatchback design means a spacious and flexible 620+ litres of cargo space.

What’s under the bonnet?

An all-new take on AMG performance motivates the EQS 53, with an electric motor powering each axle for a combined 484kW and 950Nm, allowing for a 3.8-second dash from 0-100.

Opting for the Dynamic Plus Package and using Race Start mode boosts outputs to 560kW and 1020Nm, with a corresponding 0-100 km/h time of 3.4 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG says the EQS 53 needs ‘at least 75 per cent battery charge’ to deliver these numbers, however.

How does the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 drive?

A quick glance at the power and acceleration figures suggests the EQS 53 is every bit an AMG product. But dig deeper and you’ll find additional performance-related specs.

The most important, and unavoidable, figure is kerb weight, which in the EQS 53’s case comes in at 2655 kg

If that sounds like a lot mass to manage, it should, because it is. The dual high-torque motors can (mostly) hide the mass when stepping on the go pedal.

But point the EQS 53 down a twisty road, crank the steering wheel through some tight turns while jumping from accelerator to brake pedal, and you realise even the wizards in Affalterbach can’t easily manage 2.6 tonnes of battery-powered luxury.

It’s not that the EQS 53 isn’t capable of high-speed, high lateral-G driving, but the big electric sedan simply doesn’t inspire it. The steering feels overly numb, while the brake pedal delivers inconsistent pressure as it shifts from regenerative to hydraulic stopping power.

Call it a shining example of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should”. 

We tried playing with the EQS 53’s various driving modes, and as expected there was a distinct change in steering weight, throttle response, and suspension damping between Comfort, Sport and Sport+. But none of those changes provided the steering feel or linear brake response we were seeking (and can consistently find in traditional AMG models).

However, when we stopped treating the EQS 53 like a performance car, put it in Comfort mode, engaged adaptive cruise control, and let the car’s advanced tech do battle with the crowded freeways surrounding Los Angeles, we were thrilled with how the luxury sedan treated us. 

Its vibration-free drivetrain, super-smooth ride quality, sumptuous seats, brilliant displays, and bank-vault-quiet cabin make the EQS 53 among the most accommodating and refined vehicles we’ve ever driven.

How much does the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 cost to run?

Mercedes-AMG covers its vehicles with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Service pricing will be confirmed closer to the AMG EQS 53’s launch next year.

The 107.8kWh lithium battery is one of the larger units on the market currently, claiming 586km of WLTP-certified range. Mercedes says the EQS 53 can be charged at a rate of up to 200kW which can replenish 300km of driving range in “just over 19 minutes”.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53

Mercedes-AMG reps told us the EQS 53 is the “first ambassador of a future of all-electric driving from AMG”. They also told us they consider this car a true AMG in all aspects, meaning high fun factor but still comfortable for daily driving.

We fully endorse the comfortable, daily-driving capabilities of the AMG EQS 53. If fun is measured by bright, engaging display screens, 0-100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, or the ability to recapture 290 kilometres of range in 19 minutes (from a DC fast charger), then this is indeed a fun car.

If the EQS 53’s overall driving dynamics represent the future of fun at AMG, however, we might want a heads up when the division’s last internal combustion models are rolling off the production line.

Click the images for the full gallery

MORE: Everything Mercedes-Benz EQS

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