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Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 2023 review

Can an electric AMG make sense?
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Can an electric AMG make sense? Of course it can. And when you consider that the planet's best high-performance cars are all going electric, and luxury cars should already be so, the EQS 53 should fit right in.

A growing empathy with the environment (in some parts of the world) has recently conditioned us to assume every new electric vehicle has a green heart by design. Some more than others, obviously, but when you look at the new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53, that assumption starts to look a bit leaky.

Here, for instance, is a car that can thunder its way to 100km/h in comfortably under four seconds. That’s supercar stuff. It can also cruise at high velocities for extended periods. That’s a grand tourer thing. It will carry five adults in supreme comfort; a limousine long-suit. And it makes a statement to the world much as any high-end prestige car before it has done.

Only when you start to look at its inner technologies and its connectedness does the EV thing emerge. And that’s the bottom line, really: The EQS 53 is a super-luxury limousine with supercar performance. It just happens to be powered by volts rather than oil because, quite simply, that’s where the performance game is at these days.

Oh sure, Mercedes-AMG claims the thing has impressive green credentials – and it does in some respects – but there’s no getting around the fact that at 2.6 tonnes, clad in the hides of multiple cows and with a huge battery full of rare and expensive pieces of the Earth’s crust, this is not the vegan’s first choice in EVs.

Beyond that, though, the question becomes whether this skewing of the EV’s traits pays off in terms of making an AMG-fettled S-Class for the future. Does switching to an electric platform in any way dilute or modify the way it behaves as a super-luxury limo? Does it, then, accurately represent the future of high-end personal mobility?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Let’s cut straight to the chase here. The Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 costs $328,400 before on-road costs. As with any luxury or prestige product, of course, it’s how you interpret that number that matters. That process is aided by the huge list of standard equipment, along with the tech-nouveau included in the deal.

Pretty much every gadget, switch or function you’ve ever thought about is part of the EQS. There’s luxury apparent in the materials and attention to detail in everything from the ambient lighting to the animated head-up display and even the floor mats that light up. The quality of the materials is impeccable in that understated German way and a single day on the road with the car is nowhere near enough to tap into its functions and fittings.

Pretty much every gadget, switch or function you’ve ever thought about is part of the EQS. Pretty much every gadget, switch or function you’ve ever thought about is part of the EQS.

Probably the only thing missing is the electrical adjustment for the rear seat. You do still get climate controls and a rear infotainment portal (complete with wireless headphones) but the actual seat controls we remember from previous S-Classes will be missed by some.

LED headlights. LED headlights.

Typically, there are optional packages available for the EQS, starting with the Energiser Comfort Package at $6497. That gives the car the ability to talk to your wearable device, and offer settings called (no kidding) Warmth, Joy, Well-Being, Refresh and Vitality modes that use the seat massage and heat functions, ambient lighting, screen display and the sound system to tailor conditions to best achieve those personal outcomes. True.

Brake calipers in red and adds 21-inch wheels and tyres. Brake calipers in red and adds 21-inch wheels and tyres.

Then there’s AMG Dynamic Plus which, at $7690, brings the ability to select Race Start mode, activate the extra performance and cooling systems and slam the 0-100km/h time back to 3.4 seconds.

There’s luxury apparent in the materials and attention to detail in everything from the ambient lighting to the animated head-up display and even the floor mats that light up. There’s luxury apparent in the materials and attention to detail in everything from the ambient lighting to the animated head-up display and even the floor mats that light up.

For the style-conscious out there, there’s the Night Package which costs $3990 and covers the outside mirrors, beltline strips, A-pillar trim, front splitter and other trim parts in either black or black chrome, the brake calipers in red and adds 22-inch wheels and tyres.

Then there are the individual options including composite brakes at $9990, the augmented-reality version of the head-up display at $2690 and a wall-box for home charging at $1450.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

This whole car is an exercise in innovation and radical design. From the full-width glass dashboard to the rear-wheel-steering, synthetic `exhaust’ note and the use of electricity in a performance, rather than an economy, mindset, the EQS 53 will keep even the committed technophile entertained for years.

This whole car is an exercise in innovation and radical design. This whole car is an exercise in innovation and radical design.

Every time you press a new button, there’s a blow-me-down moment as the AMG dips into its huge grab-bag of tricks and novelties. If, for instance, you’ve ticked the Energising Comfort Package box, the car will interface with your wearable device (most common ones, anyway) to give you a display of your vital signs. The car can also use the radar that controls its adaptive cruise control to 'see' down to the road for battery regeneration opportunities. New owners will be a long time learning this car.

It does make a pretty bold statement, however, with the single, `Harbour Bridge’ sweep from its nose to its tail. It does make a pretty bold statement, however, with the single, `Harbour Bridge’ sweep from its nose to its tail.

Even the exterior design marks a new direction for Mercedes. Actually, it’s probably more of a refinement of a design theme that began with the original CLS of 2005 where the single-curve of the side-profile first became apparent. Either way, the `lozenge’ theme is set to become an M-B corporate look, and even though the EQS looks a bit ungainly in photographs, in the flesh, it’s not as radical as that. It does make a pretty bold statement, however, with the single, `Harbour Bridge’ sweep from its nose to its tail.

The exterior design marks a new direction for Mercedes. The exterior design marks a new direction for Mercedes.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The EQS’ interior is a trip right into the future. At least in terms of how it presents the multitude of function controls and information systems which, at first glance, seem a bit overwhelming. But even before you have a chance to be dazzled by the breadth of choices and configurations you’re faced with, the actual dashboard is guaranteed to grab your attention.

The three screens are compiled as one to form a huge, 1.4-metre wide display. The three screens are compiled as one to form a huge, 1.4-metre wide display.

While multiple info-screens and animated displays aren’t new, the sheer scale of the EQS’ display is quite breathtaking. Stretching across the entire dashboard, the three screens are compiled as one to form a huge, 1.4-metre wide display.

The switchgear and controls have been laid out to enable individual preferences from user to user, but even so, there’s a phenomenal amount of info to take in. Mercedes claims the layout is also designed to reduce the need to menu-dive, but again, the outright mass of details to consider is mind-boggling and forces some switchgear to be less than immediately obvious. Even the steering-wheel controls are now so numerous that the tiller has grown an extra horizontal bar to accommodate them all.

The seating both front and rear seems pretty firm in the EQS and while the driver’s perch is multi-adjustable. The seating both front and rear seems pretty firm in the EQS and while the driver’s perch is multi-adjustable.

Despite that, commonly used controls seem to be where you’d imagine they should be and the cruise control, for instance, operates more or less as you’re accustomed to.

The seating both front and rear seems pretty firm in the EQS and while the driver’s perch is multi-adjustable, the rear seat has lost some of its adjustability compared with previous S-Class Benzes. The electric adjustment for the rear seat is AWOL, although the four-zone climate-control has been retained. The rear seat seems a fraction tight on headroom for really tall folk, too. A full-length, panoramic sunroof gives an airy feel and visibility is generally good, especially from the driver’s seat.

The rear seat seems a fraction tight on headroom for really tall folk. The rear seat seems a fraction tight on headroom for really tall folk.

The boot, thanks to that huge wheelbase, is vast with plenty of width, but crucially forms a long space that extends forward to accept huge suitcases. A total of 580 litres of boot space is there for the taking, and the load floor is flat the whole way.

A total of 580 litres of boot space. A total of 580 litres of boot space.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?    8/10

Big under-bonnet numbers have always been a high-end Mercedes-AMG thing, and the EQS continues that tradition despite not having a traditional driveline. Using two electric motors, one on the front axle, one driving the rear wheels, the EQS 53 in its standard form claims a combined power of 484kW and a monstrous 950Nm of torque. Compare those numbers with the most recent AMG S63 with 450kW and 900Nm from its twin-turbo four-litre V8 petrol engine, and you can see that the decision to go electric has at least as much to do with performance as it does the environment.

The EQS 53 in its standard form claims a combined power of 484kW and a monstrous 950Nm of torque. The EQS 53 in its standard form claims a combined power of 484kW and a monstrous 950Nm of torque.

But there’s more. Tick the option box for the Dynamic package at an extra $8000, and suddenly, you’re in the realm of 560kW and 1020Nm of torque. Just as well that power and torque is split across two motors and, therefore, drives all four wheels.

The sheer size of the car has also prompted Benz to give it rear-wheel-steering which also works at speed for safer changes of direction at autobahn velocities. The result is a pert - for a 5.2-metre long car – 11.5-metre turning circle.

How much energy does it consume?   7/10

Obviously, the EQS requires no fossil fuel to power it, but when you look at its power consumption, you can see why it’s mission-statement is not necessarily to save the planet. The fact is, the 53’s official appetite for Watts is 23.0 kWh per 100km. Compare that with a Hyundai Ioniq at 15.7 kWh per 100km and you can see what we mean. The comparison is the electrical equivalent of a petrol car that uses 10.0 litres per 100km against another using 14.6 litres.

With a 107.8kWh battery, range is impressive at up to 585km. With a 107.8kWh battery, range is impressive at up to 585km.

Mercedes is quick to defend the car, though, pointing out the fact that it’s built in a carbon-neutral factory and even the batteries are produced in a facility with the same green credentials.

With a 107.8kWh battery, range is impressive at up to 585km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Mercedes S-Class has long been the harbinger of new tech, particularly safety tech. ABS brakes and airbags (if you don’t count 1000 examples of a 1973 Chevrolet in the USA which featured a type of airbag restraint) are just two examples where the S-Class of the day has pioneered safety advances that have filtered down.

So no surprise to find that the EQS 53 is bristling with safety tech. That starts with the full suite of driver aids, including traffic-sign assist and active lane-keeping, as well as eight airbags and tyre-pressure monitoring. Even the battery is protected from crash damage by being housed in an extruded aluminium cage that offers a physical barrier to any intrusion.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

EVs are, by and large, cheaper to maintain than the more complex conventional car, but dealership servicing versus an independent workshop will always involve a premium. While the EQS features the same factory warranty as any other Benz; five years/unlimited kilometres, the big concern for some EV buyers is battery life. To calm those nerves, the EQS 53 also comes with a ten-year and 250,000km battery warranty.

The EQS 53 also comes with a ten-year and 250,000km battery warranty. The EQS 53 also comes with a ten-year and 250,000km battery warranty.

Benz also gives EQS buyers a three-year subscription to the Chargefox fast-charger network (which has just been acquired by a consortium of Australia’s state motoring clubs) and operates on 100 per cent renewable energy. Charge at home with solar panels or other renewable power, and the EQS will be keeping rich people rich.

Mercedes tells us there will be a fixed-price service program, but pricing details are yet to be released. Service intervals are every 12 months.

 

What's it like to drive?   7/10

There’s absolutely no doubt about the EQS’ place in the world in terms of the actual driving. This is a big, imposing car with mega performance, and don’t you forget it. It feels big from the driver’s seat with a long stretch to the passenger’s side and then there’s that glass cockpit to get your head around. The head-up display is great, though; well-placed and utterly legible in all lighting conditions.

Of course, what you really want to know is what 1000-plus Newton-metres feels like, right? Well, it’s awesome. Period.

The response that results from having maximum torque from a standstill means there’s no requirement for a transmission beyond the basic shafts to take the drive from each motor outboard to the wheels. And that same response means that there’s no time needed to wind the thing up: You press the throttle, the world begins moving towards you. Quickly.

On the highway, you can stab the throttle as fast as you can to the floor and then immediately lift off. On the highway, you can stab the throttle as fast as you can to the floor and then immediately lift off.

On the highway, you can stab the throttle as fast as you can to the floor and then immediately lift off, and the AMG will still gain 10 or 15km/h. Dare to hold the pedal down longer and the digital speedometer starts leaping numbers in multiples of five and ten as it struggles to keep up with the relentless thrust. Overtaking has never been as foolproof as this. Passengers may ultimately find this tiring. You probably won’t.

At the same time, the all-wheel-drive afforded by having a motor on each axle ensures that grip is never the limiting factor. Rather it’s the threat of a prison sentence and any shred of self-preservation you might have that will perform that function. And let’s not forget that even if that straight-line grip holds up for you, physics itself gets better and better at throwing yaw forces your way, the faster 2.6 tonnes travels.

The steering is natural enough to pass without complaint and although it’s light, it feels as though it’s not too pointy nor too keen to start all that weight shifting around unnecessarily. The suspension, however, is less convincing on the rough roads around the back of Canberra and Goulburn (in winter) where Mercedes chose to launch the EQS 53.

The all-wheel-drive afforded by having a motor on each axle ensures that grip is never the limiting factor. The all-wheel-drive afforded by having a motor on each axle ensures that grip is never the limiting factor.

While air suspension has an obvious part to play in allowing for an adaptive experience in something this heavy, there’s a feeling that, even on the cruisiest setting, there’s still that air-suspension trait of being incapable of flattening those low amplitude, high frequency surface nodules that afflict many country roads. And, to be perfectly honest, there was not a whole lot of bandwidth apparent in the different settings. Fundamentally, shifting from Comfort to Sport and Sport Plus did very little in terms of altering the ride characteristics. And even if it’s still, overall, a very comfortable outcome, missing is that legendary `waft factor’ magic-carpet ride that has previously been such a part of the S-Class experience.

Curiosities? A few. The paddles on the steering wheel, for instance, freed of the requirement to select gears, are instead set up to vary the amount of braking regeneration the driver wants. In the most aggressive setting, there’s more than enough regen for single pedal driving. Brake pads are likely to last a long time in the AMG as the vast majority of braking is in the form of regeneration.

You press the throttle, the world begins moving towards you. Quickly. You press the throttle, the world begins moving towards you. Quickly.

And then there’s the computer-generated soundtrack designed to give an electric car some umami. Filtering a synthetic sound experience into a car’s cabin is not new. But in the case of an electric car, it’s not done to sharpen the noise up or make it more palatable; it’s so that there’s any sort of audible backdrop to what’s going on.

AMG has developed what it believes is the appropriate accompaniment and maybe, with more exposure on our part, it might emerge thus. But at the moment, it’s sounds more like white noise – not unpleasant, but hardly tuneful either – that permeates the cabin in various volumes depending on what drive mode you’re in. Interestingly, Comfort mode culled the noise altogether and soon became our favourite.

It's not that the nose is unpleasant per se, rather that it’s difficult to form a mental connection between what is a flat hum (not quite a buzz) that actually threatens to drone on its loudest setting (Sport Plus). Depending on your level of mental flexibility, the noise will either remind you of sitting inside a taxiing twin-engined turbo-prop plane, or it will have you imagining Darth Vader is about to enter the room. It’s not terrible, it’s just different. Is it the future? Maybe.

Verdict

Maybe the EQS isn’t such a leap into the unknown after all. Check out a modern hyper-car. It will almost certainly have at least an electric element to its driveline. And luxury cars? Given the potentially silent, smooth progress offered, why the heck aren’t all luxury cars electric?

So does the EQS move the luxury car game on? In a way, but it also proves that the things that make luxury cars remarkable are less about what powers them and more about how they look after their occupants. And in that respect, the rear-seat accommodation, the ride quality and the user-friendliness seem to be a fraction caught up in the technology. Not that the 53 is not a proper luxury car, rather that the novel platform doesn’t seem to add anything to that element of things. Which is not, of course, to say that electrification isn’t a sure thing in this market segment. But it will be interesting to see how the other brands tackle the concept.

Throw the AMG badge into the mix, and the end result skews again. Where previous AMGs have been all blood and guts (mixed with the usual dollop of S-Class refinement) this car doesn’t seem to have nailed the same, extrovert brief. The performance is certainly AMG-spec, but the theatre seems oddly missing and the noise is just noise rather than the AMG symphony we’re used to.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Pricing guides

$184,800
Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$166,800
Highest Price
$194,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
450 4Matic (570 KM) —, Electric, 1 SP AUTO $193,160 – 221,980 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 2023 450 4Matic (570 KM) Pricing and Specs
450 4Matic (664 KM) —, Electric, 1 SP AUTO $193,160 – 221,980 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 2023 450 4Matic (664 KM) Pricing and Specs
450 4Matic —, Electric, 1 SP AUTO $182,600 – 209,880 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 2023 450 4Matic Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Price and features7
Design9
Practicality7
Under the bonnet8
Efficiency7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving7
David Morley
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$328,400

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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