A good first impression is vital, especially when introducing a brand-new model. Now, when that model also happens to be Mercedes-AMG’s first ever-fully electric production vehicle, it has to win hearts. Few brands have such a clear mission as Affalterbach’s best. Over the decades, the German carmaker has perfected the art of taking a massive engine making a million horsepower, and shoving it under the hood of just about anything to make a muscle car. They’ve done it with sedans, coupes, SUVs, and even a minivan.
But times are changing, and Mercedes-AMG is slowly trading pops and bangs for packs and cells. At the forefront of this shift is the Mercedes-AMG EQS, the brand’s first BEV. It’s more than just a tuned-up EQS 580, though. It’s a proper attempt at retaining some of that trademark AMG lunacy by letting go of the burbling exhaust in favor of new sounds, sights, and feelings.
Don’t, for a second, though, think that AMG has lost its way. The EQS is still a powerhouse, producing up to 751 hp and blasting to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. It’s quick, but then again, all high-horsepower EVs are. Thankfully, the EQS relies on more than just stats for its appeal. It combines a stellar interior, innovative tech, and a world-class ride to create an ideal high-power cruiser. However, not all the steps it takes move it forward. The EQS may serve as an introduction to the marque’s future, but it’s not perfect.
I was so wrong about the Mercedes-AMG EQS’s styling. I, like many others, saw a few photos online, dismissed it as just another egg-shaped EV, and moved on. The AMG EQS, however, wins you over in person with its sheer road presence. It may not have flared wheel arches, a long hood, or aggressive aero bits stuck on, but it manages to convey its sporty identity through subtleties. Its front fascia, for example, features aggressive air intakes and chrome vertical slats, paying tribute to the brand’s ubiquitous Panamericana-style grille.
All the chrome typically found in the EQS 580 is now gloss black, and a subtle rear diffuser and trunk lid spoiler bring up the rear. Along the sides, a $1,850 set of 22-in satin black turbine wheels fill its wheel arches well and make it appear lower to the ground. All of the standard AMG bits are here. They’re just far more subtle than we’re used to.
Physically, the EQS is about the size of an S-Class, although it’s slightly shorter and narrower. Proportionally, however, it’s a whole different animal. Its wheels push out to its corners, where they meet the short front and rear bumpers. Even its hood slopes down aggressively, providing excellent visibility behind the wheel. Its aero-focused roofline is one uninterrupted arch that meets the rear creating a hatchback design.
Unfortunately, the EQS’ design isn’t quite as good as its styling. Despite offering excellent rear cargo space, it lacks a front storage compartment like most competitors. You can’t even open the hood at all. Its arching roofline may work well for aerodynamics, but it compromises second-row headroom, making even my 5’10 self feel relatively cramped. This won’t be a luxury sedan to ride in. It’s one to drive.
I mentioned earlier that the Mercedes-AMG EQS is Affalterbach’s first production BEV, but that’s not technically true. Back in 2013, the German carmaker produced nine SLS AMG Electric Drives. Although that’s more a batch than a proper run, it showcased that the brand was already thinking about quick EVs well over a decade ago, long before it announced any serious strides toward full electrification. It was fast, too, matching a Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Flash forward nearly a decade, and AMG’s first electric model is a full-size luxury sedan that hits 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, or 0.6 seconds quicker than the electrified SLS. This EQS produces 649 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque thanks to two AMG-specific electric motors. According to AMG, its motors feature new windings, stronger currents, and unique software. This allows them to achieve higher rotational speeds and, thus, more power.
With the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package and Race Start engaged, the EQS’s output climbs momentarily to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to reach 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Electric or not, that’s impressive for a sedan weighing just over 5,900 lb or more than a Rolls-Royce Ghost. Power comes from a 107.8 kWh battery pack, which promises an EPA estimated range of 277 miles of range, but more on that later.
To ensure the EQS can deliver these performance levels consistently, AMG developed unique cooling elements within the motors’ stator and inverter while adding a separate cooler for the EQS’ single-speed automatic.
From the driver’s seat, the Mercedes-AMG EQS feels quick both off the line and while already rolling, but then again, all high-horsepower EVs do. There’s nothing particularly unique about its outrageous organ-crushing launch. The EQS stands out with its sound design, which helps contextualize its acceleration with a unique soundtrack that gets louder as the speedo climbs. Its digital gauge cluster chimes in with its colorful graphics, adding a bit of drama. It doesn’t soothe the soul like one of the brand’s snarling V8s, but it’s far from boring.
Despite what its badge might suggest, the Mercedes-AMG EQS is by no means a canyon carver. Much less so than the S-Class, which, even with a 4,700-lb curb weight for the S 580 4MATIC, still feels eager to dance in the bends. The high-power EQS, on the other hand, is far too floaty for that kind of work. Even in its tightest and most aggressive setting, it rolls considerably through the fast stuff and isn’t all that rewarding to hustle up a twisty road. Its electric power steering remains muted until you’re at the car’s limit, and while my tester’s optional $5,450 carbon ceramic brakes offer excellent stopping force, they lack proper feedback.
Then again, I’d be surprised if Affalterbach’s first EV saw anything other than city streets, which it dominates. AMG’s Ride Control+ works wonders with its air suspension setup and electronically controlled adaptive dampers. Helped by its hefty battery pack weighing it down, the EQS simply ignores imperfections on the road. It’s plush, cozy, and tight enough to handle its outrageous launch. Even on its massive wheels, it glides completely unbothered, as a high-speed cruiser should.
The EQS generally feels like a smaller car to drive than it is. A standard rear-axle steering system makes maneuvering around town a breeze with its up to nine degrees of angle, making the EQS feel about as big as a C-Class. Compared to BMW’s latest i7, which feels like a proper limousine, the EQS shrinks around you considerably.
For the most part, modern luxury sedan interiors look like carbon copies of each other. Slap a tablet-style screen in the center and a digital cluster in front of the driver, and you’re set. The Mercedes-AMG EQS, however, sidesteps the norm and embraces technological maximalism with its colossal Hyperscreen display. It’s so large that it extends from A-pillar to A-pillar. It’s about as far from subtle as possible. But then again, when starting with a clean slate, why not push boundaries?
Its size will be a particular hit with those born during a particular boom, thanks to its easy-to-read sizable maps and intuitive MBUX infotainment system. It’s so well integrated into the screen’s size and shape that switching to the wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity feels like a downgrade. A smaller passenger display complements and gives those riding shotgun the ability to adjust their seat and climate or listen to music via a separate Bluetooth connection.
In front of the driver, you’ll find a smaller digital gauge cluster with the usual Mercedes-Benz dial layouts and a few AMG-specific ones. Those layouts add drama as you accelerate with various colors and figures showing how brutal the car’s acceleration is. However, should the system not be able to see your eyes clearly, it’ll flash warning messages incessantly until you raise the wheel or lower your seating position.
Ergonomically, the EQS is just a bit strange. Its digital cluster is mounted relatively high on the dashboard, meaning you won’t be able to sit as low as possible without feeling like you have to peer over the massive Hyperscreen. While its chairs are AMG-specific, they’re plenty plus and comfortable, nothing nearly as stiff as the bucket seats available for other AMGs.
The AMG EQS is properly whisper quiet on the road, making for a very relaxing drive. There’s ample sound insulation, enough to outdo a standard S-Class. While this alone is impressive, the quietness allows its Burmester Surround Sound System to shine in tone and clarity.
The Mercedes-AMG EQS boasts an EPA-estimated electric range of 277 miles thanks to its 107.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. That translates to 76 in the city, 78 on the highway, and a combined figure of 77 MPGe. Its peak DC charge rate is 200 kW.
For context, these range figures are slightly lower than the BMW i7 (308 mi) and Lucid Air Grand Touring (516 mi) but surpass those of the Audi RS e-tron GT (232 mi.)
Mercedes-AMG EQS starts at $148,550, including a $1,050 destination fee. However, my tester, with its options like its $5,450 carbon ceramic brakes, $3,550 Pinnacle Trim, and $2,250 Automatic Comfort Door Package, comes in at $165,020. This places the AMG about in line with an Audi RS e-tron GT ($143,445), and Lucid Air Grand Touring ($140,500) but below a Porsche Taycan Turbo ($186,350)
The Mercedes-AMG EQS makes a solid first impression. Its formidable performance, excellent interior quality, and clever tech make it a strong contender in the segment. However, it’s far from alone. For example, cars like the Lucid Air Grand Touring deliver more power, range, and interior space for similar money, meaning the EQS isn’t the domineering slam dunk it needed to be
The Mercedes-AMG EQS isn’t a car that’ll sell purely on stats. It’ll win over buyers with how it makes them feel with its comfort and driving experience. It’s likely the cushiest high-power EV, and with its added sound and graphics, it pumps back in some of the drama its competitors lack. Speed alone isn’t enough to shift units anymore, and while the EQS isn’t the great sporty sedan I was hoping it would be, it offers just enough AMG lunacy to make it charming.