The Mercedes-EQ sub-brand for fully electric Mercedes-Benz models was introduced in Malaysia some 4 years back, and Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) has been waiting for the right time to start its EQ offensive. That right time has come in 2022, with the government providing full duty exemption on the import and sale of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for a few years and a bit long if they are assembled locally. Like the duty-free incentive provided by hybrids and EVs 10 years ago, the move is aimed at popularising zero emission vehicles to generate the demand which the industry needs in order to make it viable selling them.
MBM has been ready for some time as Mercedes-Benz already has a range of Mercedes-EQ models in production which cover a range of segments, including the top end. Here, the brand is represented by the EQS, the flagship of the range. The EQS is fairly new in the Mercedes-EQ range, having been launched just a year back as the fifth model of the BEV line-up.
It’s also the first Mercedes-EQ model to be based using the Modular Electrical Architecture (MEA), internally referred to as EVA II. This is a dedicated platform and architecture for BEVs intended for use with the Mercedes-EQ models from the midrange upwards, as opposed to the MFA II platform for the compact models. The MEA platform accommodates modular battery packs and can be varied to have different wheelbases as well as use single or dual motor powertrains.
The EQS, like the S-Class, takes its place at the top of the Mercedes-EQ range and therefore has the prominence in its design to generate a strong presence. The designers have taken advantage of the fact that it does not have a combustion engine which, in some ways, allows new approaches to styling and modelling surfaces with ‘Sensual Purity’.
Aerodynamics have always been important in car design as this influences performance as well as noise levels. For BEVs, it is even more crucial because wind resistance has to be minimised as much as possible so that more of the available power can be used to propel the car rather than to overcome resistance. The EQS thus has carefully modelled surfaces with reduced joints and seamless transitions between panels in its coupe-like silhouette. Unique in this segment is the cab-forward design: the overhangs and the front-end assembly are short, the rear is smoothly rounded.
With a lot of meticulous detail work, the aerodynamicists in close cooperation with the designers were able to achieve a new Cd benchmark of 0.20. This makes the EQS the most aerodynamic production car in the world at the moment. 40 years ago, the lowest Cd for a production car was 0.30 which was achieved by the Audi 100.
For the Malaysian market, MBM is importing the EQS in EQS 450+ form and prices it at RM698,888 (without insurance but with sales tax). It comes with AMG Line package which includes 21-inch AMG multi-spoke light-alloy wheels. Below the ‘radiator grille’ (a radiator is unnecessary), there’s an AMG-styled bumper which is sportier and likewise, the rear bumper also gets treatment from the brand’s high-performance subsidiary.
The EQS450+ is among six power output choices for the model and this has a single motor powering the rear wheels which generates 245 kW/333 ps and 565 Nm of torque. That can take the 2,480 kg EQS450+ from standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 6.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 210 km/h.
Mercedes-Benz has spent a lot of money on battery development as this is a critical component of a BEV, the ‘fuel tank’ which determines how far the car can travel. For the EQS, there is a new generation of batteries with significantly higher energy density. These have a usable energy content of around 107.8 kWh. A range of 782 kms is claimed for a full charge and this is helped by an effective recuperation strategy with high recuperation power (up to 290 kW).
Owners get a charging cable with each EQS450+ that can be used for various recharging options with varying times. AC charging is supported up to 11 kW and direct current (DC) charging can be up to 200 kW for shorter times. According to MBM, it would take 10 hours to recharge to 100% from 10% with an 11 kW and just 31 minutes from 10% to 80% if a 200 kW charger outlet is used. So the slower speed could probably be best for home recharging overnight where a wallbox can be installed while the high-speed charging can be used when travelling long distances.
The Mercedes-EQ MEA architecture allows interior designers new freedom in packaging which provides more space front and rear. The highlight of the cabin, which can be bathed with light from above through the panoramic sunroof, is the visual technology. This is exemplified by the MBUX Hyperscreen which makes its debut with the EQS. Featuring a fingerprint scanner, the MBUX multimedia system and an OLED front passenger display form a large and continuous panel from left to right. The integrated ambient lighting installed in the lower part of the MBUX Hyperscreen makes the display unit appear to float on the instrument panel.
The passenger side display and operating area has up to seven profiles to customize the content. If the passenger seat is not occupied, the screen becomes a digital decorative part. In this case, animated stars, ie the Mercedes-Benz Pattern, are displayed.
For better display quality, OLED technology is used in central and passenger displays. This is where the individual image points are self-luminous; non-controlled image pixels remain switched off, which means that they appear deep black. The active OLED pixels, on the other hand, radiate with high colour brilliance, resulting in high contrast values, regardless of the angle of view and the lighting conditions. All the graphics are styled in a new blue/orange colour scheme throughout.
Futuristic as the MBUX Hyperscreen is, there is still a classic cockpit display with two circular instruments to give the driver a sense of familiarity. Perhaps, in future, everything will change as later generations are more comfortable with a fully digital world. The instrument panel has been reinterpreted with a digital laser sword in a glass lens. In EV mode, important functions of the electric drive are visualized in a new way, with a spatially moving clasp, and thus made tangible.
MBUX is also an interactive system which acts as an intelligent ‘personal assistant’ for both front and rear occupants. There’s also MBUX Navigation Premium for extended functions and this uses augmented reality for navigation. Also included is the MBUX High-End Rear Seat Entertainment System, 2 wireless headsets, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a Burmester 3D surround sound system.
The Electric Art interior allows creating an ambience according to personal preferences with a choice of 64 colours of ambient lighting. An active system allows passengers to experience a technological leap visually as it links aesthetics with innovative driver information and extended functions. Wraparound light strips and trim elements amalgamate to form an additional lighting level. This also supports driving assistance systems visually, thus emphasising the intelligence of the Mercedes-EQ vehicle.
The EQS has been subjected to a long period of tough development and testing so that it will meet the quality and reliability standards that Mercedes-Benz has built its reputation on. Owners will have a 4-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for the car and a separate warranty for the battery pack which is up to 10 years or a maximum of 250,000 kms.