Luxury flagships have a certain appeal that comes through with the promise of premium features, lots of cabin space, and novelty. If it is a battery electric luxury flagship, that just makes it a lot more interesting and unique. The Mercedes-EQS 580 is the S-Class of electrics, and even though it may not have as big a footprint as the original, it is the German brand’s current top EQ model. Packed to the gills with tech and wearing the badge of being the most aerodynamic production car ever, the EQS 580 is now being assembled in Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Chakan, near Pune. I drove the European-spec EV in Germany a couple of weeks ago, and last week had the opportunity to drive the India-spec model in Pune and Lonavla. Here are my driving impressions. 

Design

The Mercedes-EQS 580 sports the signature EQ design for its fascia and the generic sinuous, mono-volume surfaces that other Merc EVs have also been given as part of their identity. Yet, there is even more of a low, gracefully curvy profile that the EQS sports, almost like it has been built to slice through air. Its design is elegant and not radical, but its Cd value (co-efficient of drag) is an incredible 0.20. The other signature design elements are the headlamps and tail-lamps being connected by a LED light strip, and the solid polycarbonate grille with its radiating light elements and the 3-pointed star in the middle. One point to note, and something that I experienced firsthand, is that the bonnet can’t be popped open and so will need some explaining to hotel security staff who might insist on it. 

The sharply sloping bonnet and the steeply raked A-pillar lead up to a roofline that curves over the passenger cell in a symmetrical arc and ends in a stubby, coupe-like short boot lid. The C-pillar is stretched out past the rear wheel and already provides a hint to the leverage that cabin space should get from the long wheelbase. The rear features a roof-hinged tailgate with a thin integrated spoiler. The connected tail-lamps deliver a neat LED light signature. The retracting door handles are a novel feature and aid in aerodynamics.

Cabin
The huge MBUX screen is sub-assembled in India at the Chakan plant!

The huge MBUX screen is sub-assembled in India at the Chakan plant! | Photo Credit: S Muralidhar

Open the frameless doors of the EQS 580 4MATIC and step into the interior, and it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the massive TV-like digital screen that runs across the width of the cabin. It occupies prime real estate, frankly all of the traditional dashboard’s position is taken up by three touchscreens that have been seamlessly integrated to create one long 56-inch screen. When I drove the German-spec version in Stuttgart, I was aware that this screen, humongous in its size and novelty, would also make it to our shores. But Mercedes-Benz has hit a home run by bringing in even more features like the 10-degree four-wheel steering also as part of standard fitment for the EQS 580 being assembled here. 

Merc officials also mention that the huge MBUX screen is sub-assembled in India at the Chakan plant! The Merc’s trademark aero turbine style aircon vents on either extreme of the MBUX Hyperscreen and discreet slits on the centre top send out the climate control’s output after the air has been fed through a HEPA filter. The beautifully finished, leather-stitched, steering wheel with touch controls and paddles for variable regenerative braking levels makes a statement too. The one feature of the cabin that I absolutely fell in love with and was also immediately worried about was the creamy white colour theme that ran across the perforated leather seats, steering cover, and the floor covering and mats. It looks svelte, but I wonder how it would age over time. India’s monsoons won’t be very kind. 

The comfort in the EQS 580’s cabin is at another level amongst current day luxury EVs. The seats are plump and generous, with just the right amount of support to match the supple ride from the suspension set up and its comfort mode. There is more than enough space, though at the rear, it is not certainly the kind of stretched-leg room that you get in the conventional-fuel S-Class. The EQS 580’s cabin is incredibly silent, and on top of that, there is active noise compensation from the Burmester sound system. You can choose to be aurally informed of the saloon’s progress on the road by choosing an electronic-y exhaust note; but I wasn’t too pleased with that option.

Performance

The EQS 580 4MATIC is powered by a 107.8kWh (usable charge) lithium-ion battery pack that feeds power to a pair of permanent synchronous electric motors located on both the axles. The 400-volt system’s total output is 385kW of peak power and 855Nm of peak torque. That is enough to propel the 2.5-tonne (kerb weight) EQS 580 to 100kmph from a standstill in 4.3 seconds. The top speed for the India-spec has been capped at 210kmph. The all-wheel drivetrain layout and the juice from the battery pack can deliver a driving range of 857km (ARAI rated MIDC or modified Indian driving cycle). That is certainly unlikely to be the range in real world conditions, but judicious driving can certainly get you over 650km. The battery pack is located under the floor of the EQS 580 and weighs over 700 kg. Being a pure EV platform, and the EQS build is optimised for the electric drivetrain and ecosystem. This enables more space in the cabin and a level seat height for rear passengers too. It also allows the boot to offer 610-litres of luggage space when the long tailgate is opened. 

The rear features a roof-hinged tailgate with a thin integrated spoiler

The rear features a roof-hinged tailgate with a thin integrated spoiler | Photo Credit: S Muralidhar

The electric powertrain in the EQS 580 4MATIC has been calibrated carefully to deliver an instinctive performance no matter what drive mode one selects. Throttle input has also been carefully calculated to meet driver demands based on mode selected and at the same time ensuring that the ride isn’t jarring. But experiencing a pinned back into the seat acceleration is just a throttle tap away with all that torque being available from standstill. And to cushion your head as it gets thrown back is that soft leather pillow on the headrest, something that all S-Class owners will appreciate. It also gets multiple regenerative braking modes, including a one-pedal mode that can be handy in city traffic. Two observations about the ride after doing a day trip in the EQS 580 4MATIC is that the Airmatic Plus suspension and its individually adjusted damping and spring rates help in getting a ride that feels like the saloon is gliding over bad patches of the road, especially in comfort mode. There is more of the road that one can feel in the cabin in sport, but it is never harsh. But the problem with the long wheelbase and the relatively 124 mm ground clearance is that it does tend to scrape over some of the big speed breakers. And there were quite a few that I had to gingerly negotiate during my drive up to Lonavla. Merc officials say that we can mark the spots on the GPS and the car’s system is designed to automatically raise the suspension by 15mm every time it comes back to the spot. I didn’t get to try it, but that should certainly help. But four-wheel steering where the rear wheels turn upto ten degrees (available for free for the first set 500 units) makes taking u-turns with ease and torque vectoring in turn makes it much more precise and capable of taking higher speeds into corners

Bottom Line

The EQS 580 4MATIC gets a 22kW AC wall box charger that can be used at the customer location, but it can also be charged using DC fast chargers up to 200kW capacity, which can deliver up to 300 km of driving range in just 15 minutes. 

The Made in India EQS 580 4MATIC is identical to the German spec and much of the equipment just makes this such a luxurious and tech-loaded saloon in its price class. The hi-tech anti-dazzle LED headlights feature 1.3-million pixel light beams. The assistance systems, the multiple screens (including the entertainment screens for rear passengers), and everyday magic features like the door mirrors that adjust themselves when the driver stares at them and the passenger side MBUX screen that dims when the driver tries to look at it, are all available here too. 

The Mercedes-EQS 580 4MATIC has been priced at an attractive ₹1.55 crore. 

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