We’re sure you're tired of hearing that we are living in strange, unprecedented, and challenging times. As we are all forced to find a new “normal,” manufacturers have had to reimagine how to bring new vehicle models to market and educate everyone about their new products.
As a typical in-person global launch event for members of the press wouldn’t exactly be safe or advisable at the moment, Mercedes-Benz introduced us to the all-new EQS through a virtual drive-along with an engineer, which is the closest we can get to experiencing the vehicle during these strange times. We have only seen exterior renderings and interior photos so far; information and images have been released piecemeal.
Through the magic of technology, I was able to dial into a video call with an engineer who was sitting behind the wheel of a pre-production EQS model with half a dozen cameras scattered throughout its luxurious, hyper-modern cabin. I joined him on a drive from the comfort of my own home and was allowed to ask him questions as he offered up details about the upcoming model.
Presented as a modern electric interpretation of the brand’s flagship S-Class, the EQS is the first vehicle from Mercedes to be launched on an all-new electric-only platform. The modular architecture is scalable, allowing for flexibility in wheelbase, track, battery size, and drivetrain configuration. A selection of other models will soon be added to the lineup, including SUV variants such as the EQC.
Not having to accommodate an internal combustion engine means that designers had free reign to create the car from the ground up. The “one-bow” exterior design creates a strong structure along with a sleek coupe-like silhouette. Touted as the first production vehicle to achieve a drag coefficient value of .20, this not only provides aerodynamic advantages allowing for higher efficiency and longer range, but also reduces wind noise. The vehicle has also been equipped with high-efficiency wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires designed specifically for this application, along with a smooth underbody for improved aerodynamics. Other steps taken to reduce drag include flush door seals and retractable handles.
Beyond what we heard about the sleek interior styling and ambient lighting, the crown jewel of the new lineup is what’s called the MBUX Hyperscreen – consisting of multiple screens behind a single display panel spanning 141 cm. Engineers had the opportunity to design the system from scratch, incorporating anything and everything owners would want in a manner that is visually appealing and easy to interact with. Various drive modes and efficiency ratings are represented in an intuitive manner through visualizations that are meant to be emotionally engaging.
Spanning the entire dash, this intelligent OLED screen can be customized to suit your preferences, but also learns your behaviour to provide suggestions for infotainment, navigation, climate control, and various other vehicle functions. It also features the latest version of the “Hey Mercedes” voice command virtual assistant. It’s seamlessly integrated and interactive, allowing the driver and front passenger to use separately or synchronously. Rear passengers can also use their own 29.4-cm touchscreens to assist with navigation or infotainment up front. The system’s navigation is capable of recommending routes based on real-time traffic, speeds, charging station availability and cost.
Rather than scrolling through numerous menus, artificial intelligence allows the interface to present the information and prompts you want through "context-sensitive awareness.” The Hyperscreen can be fitted to any model in the future EQ lineup.
Engineers have also worked to create unique auditory “sound experiences” for the enjoyment of passengers. Not meant to replace or replicate the noises of an internal combustion engine, sound engineers have created a selection of profiles meant to embody the various drive modes.
The first question related to any EV will always be range. Mercedes is claiming an available range of up to 770 km with a maximum output of 385 kW (516 hp) and 855 Nm of torque (630 lb-ft), allowing it to also hustle from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds. Mercedes has brought all of its battery-cell and management system production in-house, featuring a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that offer significantly higher density and improved charging capability. The EQS can also be charged up to 200 kW, offering up an extra 300 km of range in as little as 15 minutes and requiring only 31 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 per cent. Thermal management helps lower the charging time, as batteries can be cooled or heated to achieve the optimal temperature for the fastest charge possible. The battery management system, like the vehicle’s other software, is capable of receiving over-the-air updates.
At the time of launch later this year, the exclusive model available in Canada will be the EQS 580 4Matic, which features a Torque Shift function. The all-wheel drive powertrain consists of a compact motor mounted on both the front and rear axles, allowing torque to be distributed fore and aft. The eATS (electric drivetrain) monitors torque 10,000 times per minute to intelligently power for traction or efficiency based on where it’s needed.
As the EQS shares some components with the S-Class, it’s no surprise that it will be built in the same production facility in Sindelfingen, Germany. More details and official images will be released during the official global unveiling on April 15.