Mercedes EQS 580 4Matic: Observations after a day of driving

There’s no denying the fact that this is a large and heavy car, but with the weight low down and the suspension and steering tech, the EQS is a lot more fun than the luxury S-Class and the E-Class LWB.

Driving the EQS 580 4Matic

The 107.8 kWh battery churns out an exciting 516 BHP and a gut-wrenching 855 Nm through 2 electric motors. Press the power button after you have set your profile with biometrics (or Face ID) and you get a “READY” light on the instrument cluster indicating the EQS is all set. Press the throttle normally as you would in any car and the car moves off the line silently and smoothly. It’s very usable and smooth inside the city with normal throttle inputs. As with any EV, the torque is instant and overtaking is a breeze. You can close gaps in traffic with a slight nudge of the throttle and with no delay. It makes the experience of driving this 5.2 m long 2.5 ton behemoth effortless.

The accelerator pedal is easy to operate initially, but it has a lot more weight/resistance as you push it further and when you do floor it, you will know why. Press hard down, and I do not exaggerate when I say this, your stomach will curl as the electric motors work their magic. The acceleration is intense and brutal on your senses. Vid6639 punched the throttle when I wasn’t expecting it and it was like someone punching you into the seat. A 0-100 km/h time of 4.3 secs in something so big and heavy is like defying the laws of physics. Of course, Tesla owners are used to it, but in India, this is still rare with not many fast EVs around. Once you taste this acceleration, it becomes addictive and you keep doing it just to experience the insane “whoosh”. It makes overtaking on single-carriageways ridiculously easy. The fun is mainly between 0-120 km/h which is pure madness. The EQS will comfortably touch 210 km/h which is the limited top speed (we, obviously, didn’t test this).

The EQS comes with four driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. As with most luxury cars, the steering, throttle response and suspension settings change depending on the drive mode engaged. Sport mode gives the steering a lot more weight and makes the throttle ridiculously sensitive. Sport mode is not even an option to try inside town. Most of the time, we drove in Comfort mode and it was more than enough. In the Individual mode, you can configure each of these parameters to your preference and save it for whenever you want to engage it again.

In Sport mode, you can also enable ambient sounds. It’s a very gimmicky feature but adds a cool factor to it. There are 2 sounds – “Silver Waves” and “Vivid Flux” – to choose from. When you press the throttle, the sound coming from the speakers is like a spaceship taking off and very Sci-fi.

Range and Charging

While the range of 850 km sounds impressive, this is based on the MIDC or ARAI-based calculation. The real-world range will be closer to the WLTP range of 677 km. After driving the EQS 580 for the better part of the day, we are very confident that anyone can do 600+ km on a full charge unless you drive like a complete hooligan, flooring the A pedal at every opportunity (like Vid6639).

This sort of range takes away any range anxiety. This one-charge driving distance lets you complete road trips on most popular routes easily. We got the car when it had a range of ~ 650 km and through the course of our drive, which included Chakan-Lonavala-Khopoli and then through the city, there was still ~ 350 km left. Mind you, this was across a jammed Pune-Mumbai Expressway, peak-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic in the city, and a generous amount of really flooring the A pedal many, many times (in the interest of testing of course).

The battery comes with both AC and DC charging ports. A 15 minute quick charge gets you 300 km of range provided you use the fast DC charger. A full charge, using a 15A socket, will take more than a day. So you will need at least a 3 phase fast charger at home. Alternately, with this sort of range, you may only be charging the car 2-3 times a month, which can be managed at a dealership or any fast charger en route. The fact that daily charging is not needed with this range, is really a game changer for EVs.


Ride and Handling

The EQS gets Mercedes AIRMATIC air suspension with adaptive dampers known as ADS+. The system is similar to what you get in the S-Class. Using sensors at the front, the car detects the road surface and sets the damping at each wheel dynamically. As a result, the EQS rides very plush at slow speeds and when pushed, doesn’t roll a lot in spite of its weight. There is a firm edge when you hit a sharp bump hard, but other than that, nothing much filters into the cabin especially in Comfort mode. Everything tightens up in Sport mode with more of the surface being transmitted inside the cabin. But the ride becomes a lot flatter as speeds go up.

The AIRMATIC system also keeps the ride height constant. Based on loads, the ground clearance is maintained the same. At speeds below 40 km/h, you can raise the height by 25 mm for speed breakers, but even in the raised position, the ground clearance is nothing to write home about. We scraped plenty of speed breakers including some, that most cars could glide over. The huge 3,210 mm wheelbase makes it even more tricky as it is not even possible to take some speed breakers diagonally. This is not a car for most Indian cities. The USP is that every time you raise the height, it saves the GPS coordinates of the position where it was raised and the next time, it will raise the height on its own at that location – very handy and useful. Once you cross 50 km/h, it goes back to its normal ride height. However, above 120 km/h, it drops by 10 mm and above 160 km/h it drops by a further 10 mm. God bless the underbody if you hit a rough patch doing 120 km/h!

Thanks to the weight of the battery on the floor, the handling and body control of the EQS are surprisingly good. It’s no S-Class in terms of dynamics and this is in a good way. GTO was driving the EQS and we followed it down the Lonavala ghats in his BMW 530D and were amazed to see the cornering speeds it could do and how flat the car was with hardly any lean through the turns even at higher speeds. You can chuck it into bends and not even realise that this is a 2.5 ton barge.

The best part is the steering. Thanks to the 4-wheel steering system, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheel at slow speeds and in the same direction at speeds above 60 km/h. This means that in sharp corners, you can flick the EQS like a C-Class and as speeds build up, you have more steering control. This also helps in city manoeuvrability as the rear wheels can turn by 10 degrees in the opposite direction as the front. However, Mercedes-Benz is being cheeky here and taking a leaf out of BMW’s books. The 10-degree steering is a paid subscription option and you only get 4 degrees as standard. However, as an introductory offer, Mercedes will offer this for free on the first 500 cars sold in India. It’s something you realise is needed when taking a U-turn or parking in tight spaces as the turning diameter is just 10.9 m with the 10-degree option, which is lesser than the C-Class and more in the league of compact cars.

There’s no denying the fact that this is a large and heavy car, but with the weight low down and the suspension and steering tech, the EQS is a lot more fun than the luxury S-Class and the E-Class LWB.


As I drove out of the Chakan plant, I pointed to Vid6639 how the braking wasn’t very intuitive and reassuring. At the top of his hat, he attributed that to the regeneration braking feature and the electric servo vs the hydraulic servo in ICE cars. While this was probably the case, the pedal just felt too spongy and vague. With the kind of acceleration the EQS has, the brakes are a letdown. They just don’t inspire confidence. However, the braking, when ADAS is on, is very, very strong and much more reassuring than you pressing down on the pedal. As with EVs, the initial braking is taken care of by the regen after which, the disc brakes take over.

The EQS gets three regeneration braking modes apart from switching off regen completely:

All the regen modes are toggled using the paddle shifters.

The Intelligent mode is as good as useless as the car keeps toggling between Normal and Strong, which won’t give you a good sense of how much you need to brake. With the pedal sometimes moving away from your foot and the system going into Strong regen, you are kept guessing how much braking the car will apply vs how much pedal input is needed. You will land up slowing down too much before a traffic light or speed breaker and sometimes realise that you have to brake manually as the system is in Normal regen.

The Strong regen mode can be enabled by a flick of the left paddle and is very useful when slowing down in emergency situations or when you are driving aggressively and braking harder intentionally. It’s very useful in the ghats before a hairpin bend.

Irrespective of all these regen modes, GTO, Vid6639 and myself all were unimpressed with the overall braking. There also should be a regen mode between normal and strong, which would be more useful than the intelligent mode.

The EQS 580 gets the full suite of safety features that are available in the S-Class. This includes Active Steering Assist, 9 Airbags, 360-degree camera, Driving Assistance and more. GTO likes to switch off all these aids and sensors given how ill-suited they are to Indian driving conditions and rightly so. For instance, Automatic Braking / Collision Avoidance can be a huge nuisance and safety hazard (yep, the irony) as you drive in our cities. When you have all sorts of animals and vehicles randomly appearing in front / alongside you, this feature runs you the risk of being rear-ended, given how we don’t like to give each other much space.

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