“Pictures don’t do it justice,” I say without a hint of irony.
I’m in a moodily-lit warehouse just outside Toronto, about to spend an hour essentially alone with the Mercedes-Benz EQS. Cullen Lee, product manager at Mercedes-Benz Canada, has finished his initial walk-around with me. I sheepishly tell him the above … as I pull out my camera, to snap pictures.
Lee agrees. It’s been around a week since the EQS had its global unveiling, enough time for the shock of the cab-forward, “one bow” design to subside. Some folks—including this writer—were less than flattering, drawing comparisons between the EQS and a certain ex-partner’s ’90s-era wares. Whoops.
In person though, the EQS design gels. There’s real presence: the body length and wheelbase are both slightly shorter than the new S-Class, yet that roofline hints at an ultra-spacious interior. And isn’t space one of the simplest forms of luxury?
Tying the whole look together is a fascinating Twilight Blue paint. It’s exclusive to Edition One versions of the EQS in the first year, though not for Canada—the local Edition One will be silver. That’s a shame, because it’s gorgeous, subtly changing its hue depending on the viewing angle. The closest analog I have are the wings of dragonflies.
This model features the AMG styling pack, which picks out the more aggressive front air intakes with gloss black surrounds. The front “grille” is a similar material, dotted with dozens of miniature Merc emblems, like the car equivalent of a Louis Vuitton bag. The rest of the EQS’ body is pebble-smooth, with only a single side crease and subtle lip spoiler breaking up the main surface. It’s how the EQS has been able to claim a drag coefficient of just 0.20 cd, a record for production models. Full-width taillights seem almost too common these days, but the EQS’ feature a cool helix-like pattern in their LED signature, which earns them a pass in my books.
The power-operated driver door—a feature not coming here, at least at launch—glides open and I plunk down in the driver’s seat. Hyperscreen stretches out ahead of me, a pillar-to-pillar expanse of glass housing multiple screens. Don’t let the size intimidate you; the system is still the excellent MBUX user interface, just a much more powerful one. The screen appears to float above the dash due to the ambient lighting framing it. I later ask Lee about night-time light pollution; he points out that as Hyperscreen is an OLED, it can display deep blacks, essentially appearing “off” even when it isn’t.
It’s a comfortable place to spend time, the EQS’ interior. A beautiful two-tone color scheme envelops the driver, with a thin strip of blue wrapping around the doors and over the top of the dash in a single continuous line. There’s a real summering-in-the-south-of-France vibe to the striped wood on the center console, too. Huge door pockets and a sizeable storage cubby below the console are surprisingly practical features in a big luxury sedan.
The feeling of spaciousness continues in the back seats. That long wheelbase means there is ample room to stretch out, and passengers can even enjoy a massage if they want. It’s also very quiet in here: Merc has rethought its sound deadening approach with the EQS, since it doesn’t have an internal combustion engine to mask road and tire noise. The result is a hush-hush interior that insulates you from outside commotion.
If the EQS is to be worthy of that third letter in its name, the car needs to not just be big, but clever. To accomplish this, Mercedes has loaded the car up with smart tech. There’s too much to list here, so instead I’ll highlight the stand-outs.
In today’s global climate, air quality is an increasing concern. The EQS offers an optional HEPA filter, one Mercedes claims purifies the cabin air to operating room levels.
Merc is also upgrading its interior ambient lighting game. Earlier examples would change to blue or red when the driver altered the climate control settings. The EQS’ system still does that, but it can also work in tandem with the vast driver assist suite. If the blind spot monitoring picks up a car on the driver’s side, the ambient lighting can offer a cascading visual warning, for example.
Even more clever are the optional Digital Light headlights. Each lamp uses over 1.3 million micro-mirrors to precisely project light, which enables them to shine patterns and guidelines onto the road. If you’re stopped at an intersection, the EQS can beam a zebra crossing onto the road ahead, encouraging pedestrians that it’s safe to cross. Driving on a freshly-paved backroad without the center dividing line? The EQS has you covered.
Features like the Digital Light symbol projection will be available post-launch on the Mercedes me app. Yes, Mercedes is toying with the idea of paid subscription features, something we first saw in BMW and have since seen in Porsche as well. Lee tells us the company is still hammering out the pricing and availability options, however.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article stated Digital Light would be available after launch. Digital Light will be available from day one; the symbol projection will arrive later.)
Redefining luxury in an EV era
At the end of our session, I ask Lee what his favorite EQS feature is. He thinks for a moment—nobody has asked yet—before giving a simple answer: the quality. Lee points to features like the tight panel gaps and complex paint as two easy-to-identify examples. But there’s also the peerless fit and finish inside, and the thoughtful use of renewable materials there. It’s a not-so-subtle dig at the big name in the EV space, though to be honest, only the upcoming Lucid Air seems a worthy competitor at this point. We’ll have to see later this year.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS will launch in North America in EQS 580 4MATIC trim this autumn. Mercedes has teased higher-performance models will arrive afterwards.
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