2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and 580 4MATIC First Drives - Tesla Beaters

Jo Borras
by Jo Borras
2022 mercedes benz eqs 450 and 580 4matic first drives tesla beaters
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC is the three-pointed star’s first real attempt at an all-electric flagship in its 100-plus year history, and its importance to the brand cannot be overstated. Simply put, Tesla is already beating Mercedes-Benz, and the upstart, 500-mile range Lucid Air isn’t going to pull any punches, either. The EQS must come out swinging, then, and it absolutely cannot fail to deliver on the promise of that “S”.I recently had a chance to take an extended test drive in both the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ and 580 4MATIC models at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and the experience was – let’s say “not what I expected”.THE LAND YACHTBack in the days of the W126 – a car some would call a high point for S class Mercedes – the big luxury cars from Lincoln or Cadillac were decidedly boaty. They isolated you from the road with their soft suspensions and high sidewall tires. The steering, too, had a nautical sort of feel. The Mercedes, however, did not. The W126 felt planted and secure. It was soft, yes, but the suspension felt capable. You weren’t isolated from the road and all its potholes and imperfections – you were shielded. The stiff chassis and expertly tuned suspension were in a different league than the Fleetwood or Town Car, and you could even hustle the grosser MB well enough, if you were so inclined.
In Comfort mode and on the elevation-changes surrounding COTA, the new EQS 580 4MATIC is eerily reminiscent of those old cars … just not the Mercedes ones.“This is terrible,” I said to my co-pilot, a young-ish MBUSA product specialist that came along on the extended test ride who invited me to “stretch the car’s legs”. “I can’t feel the road,” I told her. “I can’t even tell where the front wheels are pointing.”“Hmm,” she said. “Let me put it into sport mode for you.”“Is that going to make a big diff—oh!” I said, genuinely surprised at the noticeable difference from just a few moments ago. “Oh! OK, here we go.”In about the same 30 seconds it took you to read those last few paragraphs, my impression of the new Mercedes-Benz EQS went from, “This is a disaster,” to “I can’t imagine anyone buying a Tesla after driving one of these.”
WHY WOULD YOU Mercedes-Benz claims the new EQS 580 4MATIC sedan will sprint from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, thanks to the 516 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of combined torque available from its Dual Permanently Excited Synchronous Motors (PSMs). I tell you that I am no stranger to fast Mercedes, so believe me when I tell you that the 580 feels even quicker than that. It wasn’t the cars’ straight-line speed or instant-on handling at the flip of a switch tap of the screen nature that were most impressive to me, though, having just spent three days in an equally quick dual-motor Tesla Model 3. It was the quality of the thing.
Despite the fact that these EQSs were early production cars – I’d never seen one in person, prior to arriving at the Electrify Expo Industry Day in Austin – it’s clear that Mercedes-Benz has laser-focused its attention on Tesla’s quality control issues and decided to launch an attack on Elon’s young carmaker on that front.
They’ve scored a direct hit. Everywhere you look on the big Benz, you see the attention to detail and focus. The shut lines are uniform. The doors, fenders, and hood all perfectly aligned. Inside, all the pieces fit as they should. Mold lines are invisible. Leather, MB-Tex, recycled carpets, glass, and aluminum all come together as designed, without a stitch or seam out of place. Shut the door hard in the Benz, and that sound, too, is utterly satisfying – something I couldn’t say of the Model 3.And, I know – the base Model 3 is about a third of the price of the $130,000-plus EQS 580 4MATIC I drove, and a better comparison would probably be the $129,990 Model S Plaid. I’d be inclined to agree with you, except that I’m trying to give Tesla a chance here.BRAND NEW MODEL S PLAID – QUALITY ISSUES
In contrast, none of the EQSs I had to choose from had any of those issues. The paint on the darker colored cars, in typical Mercedes fashion, was a bit orange-peely, but it was deep and rich with a heavy flake and lots of flop. What’s more, there wasn’t a single panel on any of the Mercedes that you could say needed a re-spray. The rocker panels and wheel well liners fit snugly, and those wheel wells were filled nicely by aerodynamic wheels on both models.ELON’S INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD’S CLASSIEST HOT HATCHYou might think that the biggest influence the Tesla Model S had on the new Mercedes-Benz EQS has something to do with the fact that it’s electric, or that it has features and capabilities that, as on the Tesla, are software-locked. Heck, it’s not even the “ vegan leather” option. You could make a good case for any of those things, but I’m saying it’s this …… that’s right, kids – the all-new, all-electric, flagship Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC sedan is, for the first time in Mercedes history, a hatchback.A hatchback, just like the Tesla Model S.
Say what you will about Tesla and Elon Musk (I know I have), but you have to hand it to the guy. He made the Teutonic titans at Mercedes-Benz question themselves so deeply, and so profoundly, that in addition to more-or-less making the electric = premium equation balance out almost entirely on his own, he got Mercedes-Benz to turn the S class into the world’s classiest hatchback. Bruno Sacco is spinning in his grave (if he’s dead – I didn’t look it up). Ed. note – I looked it up and he is very much alive.
JUST ABOUT PERFECTIn the end, I may be the only person who finds the hatchback Benz thing funny – and that’s fine. The reality is that the new Mercedes EQS sedans, both of them, are incredibly well-conceived automobiles. They’re quiet, solid, fast, and can tailor themselves to their drivers’ wants and needs in just about real time. For example, to adjust my seat, I entered my height. It weighed me, I think, then adjusted my seat accordingly. The computer got my very nearly into my preferred seating position on the first try. Even the massaging seat rollers (of course it has massaging seats) seemed to know where they were wanted.
It’s hard to argue against the thing. And, no – it’ll never handle like an E30 BMW, or even a Polestar 2 – but I’d bet the new grosser could hold its own against anything this side of an Alpina B7. Until BMW has something electric in this size class, though, I think the EQS stands alone.[Images © 2021 Jo Borras/TTAC.com, Timothy Cain/TTAC.com]
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  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Nov 23, 2021

    $130,000 car is nice. In other news, water is wet.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Nov 30, 2021

    Good lord 130K for something that looks like it would fit in at any Asian car dealer for around 35-40K. No thanks Mercedes. If this is the best these so called luxury marques can pen out car styling is truly dead!

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?