Tested: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+

Mercedes-Benz, like many other captive European brands, is striving for hashtag zero emissions 2039. While that is absolutely admirable, “striving for” is a non-committal approach which may turn out for the better…

Look, I’m not going to bash EV’s any further than the public whipping they’re experiencing in southern Africa, nor do I want to explain my stand on electric mobility beyond this summary: their construction, usage and recycling isn’t as green as everyone says; plus they face rather unique, regional issues.

Our beautiful southern part of the African continent has much bigger problems than worrying where a one percenter is going to get sufficient juice to charge up their electric plaything. But I’m not here to comment on that because – like most Namibians – I celebrate and admire success. And what if that success takes the shape of a new Mercedes EQS?

First of all, yes, it is available to order from M+Z Motors. Secondly, yes, they have chargers at selected dealerships and can assist in having a proper home charger installed for any proud new EQS owners. And seeing that this 450+ model has a theoretical range of between 650 and 780km, you could actually use it.

If you plan your routes a bit carefully.

Does that sound familiar, by the way? This isn’t the first time where new technology needs to find its groove. From the very first automobiles which had to buy liquid petroleum in pharmacies, to closed cabin vehicles, ABS brakes, early turbo-diesel passenger cars queuing with lorries, sat-nav, Bluetooth, it all has to start somewhere…

First we all marvel at the new possibility, then we all mercilessly berate the new systems, and eventually the two extreme opposites fade into a grey goo. Because we probably found the next thing to complain about. So, as the expressions go, let’s ignore the haters and see what living your best life in an EQS450+ is like.

Right, first up is the starting price of ZAR 2,620,500, which still leaves room to the top for an AMG Line model (plus R140,000) and a few optional extras for folks who wish to spend three bar. The next thing would be its elongated shape and rounded design; that most observers dismiss as too bulbous. What do you think of it?

The interior found one detractor in our midst who alleged that some of the shut-lines or displays don’t match the price and novelty of its host. I found the cabin to be an amazing and interesting place, with a bizarre but pleasant mix of rounded shapes, fine three-pointed star details, chrome piping, turbine air vents and multi-fabric seats.

Being an S-Class relative (or replacement?) this EQS sedan offers very generous space for four adults; one more if the rear ones don’t mind shoulder contact. The drooping roof line robs a bit of rear glass real estate but culminates in the usual fast-back lid… which provides a hilariously large loading aperture and anything from 610 to 1,770L of cargo space.

So it’s an electric S-Class fastback.

Speaking of fast, this model uses one electric motor on the rear axle; the dual-motor version is labeled 53 AMG. Oh, and the rear wheels have a small amount of steering angle to improve driving dynamics and reduce the turning radius to 11.9m. The car even plays different UFO noises (depending on mode) as you accelerate or brake.

With 265kW of power of 565Nm of torque, Mercedes-Benz South Africa claims 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds and I couldn’t wait to strap our testing equipment to this white press vehicle. Why? Because, after performance-testing hundreds of internal combustion vehicles, the novelty of electric propulsion hasn’t worn off yet. It’s quite addictive!

After brake-boosting the car on a few consecutive runs, the best time was exactly 6.12 seconds. With a strange humming soundtrack. The quarter mile fell in 14.38 seconds at 100.52mph, but even more impressive was the full-bore emergency stop from 100km/h: just 2.88 seconds and 36.96 metres.

Considering the lardy nature of battery-powered beasts (this one weighs 2,480kg), those are excellent values. For the record, this car was shod with Good-Year rubber of the dimension 265/40R21. A 40-series profile usually spells a harsh low-speed ride but, as a percentage of 21 inches, this setup provides sufficient sidewall to cushion most city bumps.

I initially felt a bit disconnected from the vehicle’s handling due to the car’s adaptive air suspension and soft/er ride setup, until I realized that it’s completely normal for an S-Class. They’re supposed to glide along in a semi-isolating state, I’ve just been exposed to a preposterous amount of hard-sprung, go-faster SUV’s.

Again, I’ll admit that it’s probably a bit of a honeymoon phase, but experiencing a full electric vehicle in a sea of rattling diesel bakkies and buzzing petrol passenger vehicles has a snobbish charm about it. To quickly combat this elitist view, I plugged our test car’s home charger into a normal 3-prong 220V outlet…

With just 2kWh to play with, this car would need almost two days to fully charge.

To start summarizing, if we can somehow get past the initial purchase price and charging concerns, this brand-new electric Mercedes is a highly refined product with space-age gadgets, loads of safety features, a pretty impressive electric range, all wrapped in S-Class levels of luxury. It’s deeply impressive, no matter what you think of electric cars.

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