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HomeFeaturesFirst drive in the R2.6-million Mercedes-Benz EQS in South Africa

First drive in the R2.6-million Mercedes-Benz EQS in South Africa

Mercedes-Benz finally gave local media the chance to get behind the wheel of its new flagship electric vehicle (EV), the EQS.

Yesterday through the bustling streets of the City of Gold we sampled the 450+ specification, which retails for R2,615,700, and to say we were blown away would be the understatement of the century.

Dynamic opulence

The 450+ is the “entry-level” EQS in South Africa and sees a single-motor setup driving the rear wheels, generating 245kW and 565Nm.

In this configuration, the ultra-luxurious EV lunges to 100km/h from standstill in 6.2 seconds and thanks to its battery-powered underpinnings it’s highly excitable and pushes you back into the seat at any speed with a tap of the throttle.

Rear-wheel steering up to 4.5 degrees offers a nimbleness that belies the vehicle’s immense 5.2-metre footprint, too, and lends a dynamic steering response that you’d expect from a sporty AMG and not a luxurious S.

I was less than half a car length away from a still-standing truck in the adjacent lane and had to manoeuvre around it to get to my turnoff, and while I would think twice about doing it in my own relatively-small SUV, the Mercedes spokesperson confidently said the EQS will squeeze past and that he would pay for damages if we hit anything. The EQS made it through with not so much as a scratch and my passenger’s December bonus was spared.

@topautosa The new Mercedes-Benz EQS450+ rear-wheel steering in action! #mercedesbenz #eqs #mercedeseq #southafrica #topauto #fyp ♬ We Rise Against (Full) – Jonathan Paulsen

This particular EQS can do up to 783km on a single charge of its 107.8kWh battery pack, slightly more than the petrol-powered S500’s quoted official range of 765km from its 65-litre tank, while being cheaper to “fill up” after each depletion.

To that end, charging at a 150kW DC plug will see the 450+ gain 80% in 45 minutes, though charging on a Mercedes wall-box at home will see the same state of charge achieved in 13-and-a-half hours, so it will need slightly more preparation and planning than its fossil-fuel sibling when driving it daily.

Further assistance in maximizing range comes from four levels of brake energy recuperation which feeds energy back into the battery each and every time you slow down, which reduces wear on the brakes as well as the driver as the EV can be driven with one pedal if they so want.

Another electric-only ability that stood out in the Mercedes was the range optimiser which, rather than limiting a pre-determined set of features to a fixed extent, calculates in which categories it will be able to gather the most range the most efficiently without impeding the high-end driving experience.

Enter paradise

The electric S-Class’s positioning at the top of the line-up is apparent right from the outset, simply by opening its LED-illuminated door handles that give noticeably firmer feedback than the rest of the Mercedes EVs we drove including the EQA and EQB.

Moving inside, it becomes clearer this is one of the most luxurious vehicles not only in the Mercedes stable, but in the world.

The soft leather seats fold around your body’s every crack and crevice with the utmost care and the headrest is covered in malleable suede cushions I would happily swap for the ones lying on my bed at home.

As part of the eco-friendly mission of the EQ cars, the EQS gets recycled materials honed from leaves and other organic materials that are mashed and bonded to a felt-like appearance and soft to the touch. The cabin-spanning metal climate control vent and ambient lighting bar mimicking the body-spanning LED headlights also supply a cocoon-like atmosphere.

Equal to luxury, the technology in the flagship EQ was taken right out of the year 2050.

There are near as many buttons and switches as there are stars on the dashboard and in the 450+, also sizeable central and driver displays measuring 12.8 and 12.3 inches, respectively.

While the EQS can essentially drive itself through abilities such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, autonomous parking, and a dozen more advanced assistance systems, nearly every new car on the market can do that nowadays and the Mercedes takes it just a few steps further.

Stopping at a red light brings up a “traffic light cam” on the central display that shows what’s going on in front of your car. I know what you’re thinking – “I have eyes for that” – but rest assured I thought the same until noticing that the sedan shows an impressively-wide picture and there are no blind spots caused by an unideal A-pillar or large wing mirror.

Additionally, the media centre houses a facial recognition camera as well as a fingerprint scanner that would allow any prospective owner to block access to non-approved individuals. The interior cameras serve a double purpose, said the Mercedes spokesperson, as they also monitor attention levels and if they notice the driver isn’t all that present, the emergency assistance systems will be on higher alert and act sooner than they would if the driver was completely focused.

Even with all your attention on the road, the EQS readily intervenes if it thinks a potentially-dangerous situation is rearing its head, something I found out when mashing the accelerator and then quickly climbing on the brakes when one of our country’s beloved taxis veered into the lane, and with this action, the Mercedes immediately tightened the seatbelts and activated brake assistance.

These sensors also pick up movement inside the cabin, and the overhead lighting will then brighten the areas where there’s motion while the seats where no movement is picked up stay dark.

It’s no surprise that the flagship EQ was destined to be magnificent but just how much it can do is still mindboggling. It shines a bright light on a vehicle segment that receives a lot of hate, and we can’t wait until these technologies trickle down to the lower price brackets.

Mercedes-Benz EQS450+

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