Affalterbach's first production electric effort combines a luxurious interior with monstrous performance

What is it?

We’re used to seeing big numbers from cars produced by Mercedes-AMG. Even so, those credited to the new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+, the Mercedes-Benz performance-car division’s first true series-production EV, are the sort to grab the attention of even the most ardent of ICE holdouts.

At 751bhp and 752lb ft in combination with an optional AMG Dynamic Plus package, the big saloon’s electric drivetrain delivers 121bhp and 88lb ft more than the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine found in the GT 63 S 4-Door Coupé.

The dual-motor system is based heavily on that used by the magnificently refined EQS 580 but with a number of specific modifications aimed at ramping up performance even further.

With a single-speed gearbox and a fully variable four-wheel drive system to deploy it, the result is a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.4sec. Considering the EQS 53’s generous dimensions and 2575kg kerb weight, that's quite an achievement.

In doing so, AMG is serving notice that it doesn’t intend to let a wholesale shift towards electrification ruin its reputation for delivering some of the fastest-accelerating four-doors your money can buy.

The potency of the new model is relayed by a number of unique styling touches that help to set it apart from the standard EQS. Included is an AMG-specific Panamericana grille within a redesigned two-tone front bumper, which sports a prominent splitter element and fins on the air intakes, plus revised air curtains to smooth airflow into the front wheelhouses either side.

Mercedes' fully adaptable Digital Light headlights also feature as standard. 

Further back, the EQS 53 sports wider sills, a larger rear spoiler and a revised multi-channel valance at the bottom of the rear bumper.

The standard 21in wheels come in either Aero or Heritage design. Buyers can also opt for larger 22in wheels in the same design. 

This is a successful reworking, giving the EQS 53 its own distinctive visual signature. But at the same time, it's not significantly differentiated to the AMG Line design package available for the standard EQS. The changes have affected the aerodynamics, too, with the drag coefficient increasing from 0.20Cd to 0.23Cd, despite the retention of a blanked off grille and largely enclosed full-length undertray. 

The interior also gets a more sporting treatment than the standard EQS with AMG sill-plates, a multi-function AMG steering wheel with a rotary driving-mode controller, AMG-specific graphics for the digital instruments, two touchscreens housed within the standard 1.4-metre-wide Hyperscreen dashboard, AMG sport pedals, AMG floor mats and broad AMG seats up front, wrapped in either standard synthetic leather or optional Nappa leather, both with contrasting red stitching. 

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What's it like?

It's all fittingly upmarket in both appearance and feel, giving the latest AMG model a truly luxurious air matched by few, if any, competitors.

The generous external dimensions and flat floor of Mercedes-Benz’s EVAII platform also make for outstanding accommodation and, in combination with a large liftback-style tailgate, impressive versatility. Boot capacity is put at 610 litres - 149 litres more than that offered by the GT 4-Door Coupé, extending to 1770 litres with the split-folding rear seats folded away. It's easy to feel overawed by the vast digital dashboard, with its various menus and functions, at first. But once you’ve familiarised yourself with the intricacies of the MBUX operating system used to control it all, the EQS 53 proves fairly easy to operate, if not exactly straightforward.

The 'Hey, Mercedes' conversational speech prompt is particularly intuitive, allowing access to most functions. It could operate a little faster, though, as there’s often a pause before a command is acted upon. The touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel also carry shortcuts to many functions.

The AMG-specific drivetrain uses two synchronous electric motors: a smaller unit mounted up front and a larger more powerful unit nestled within the rear subframe. Together they provide fully variable four-wheel drive. In everyday driving conditions, the car relies heavily on the rear motor, with the front one making a significant contribution to overall propulsion only at higher speeds.

Four driving modes are put at your disposal (Slippery, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus), as well as an Individual setting that allows you to tailor the throttle response, steering, suspension and other areas of the car to your liking.   

The motors have been upgraded to allow them to rev higher than in the standard version of Mercedes' EQ flagship. Included is a six-phase design with two windings for the rear unit - each with three phases for a more powerful magnetic field, a stronger current to allow them to draw energy from the battery faster and newly developed software for the inverters. 

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AMG has also altered the cooling system for the motors, specifically the water lance within the shaft of the rotor. Other changes include heat-dissipating ribs on the strator and a ceramic structure on the inverter. Additionally, there's a second oil-cooler for the single-speed transmission.

The result is increases of 133bhp and 69lb ft over the EQS 580, at a nominal 649bhp and 700lb ft. It doesn’t end there, though. As mentioned earlier, AMG offers the EQS 53 with a so-called Dynamic Plus package, which brings the totals up to 751bhp and 752lb ft.

To give this some perspective, the most powerful of the electric competition, the Tesla Model S Plaid, delivers 1006bhp and 1025lb ft, while the Porsche Taycan Turbo S serves up 751bhp and 774lb ft.

Electric energy, meanwhile, is provided by a 107.8kWh battery operating at 400V. It uses unique management system that allows the motors to draw power faster and for longer periods than the system used on other EQS models.

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There's prodigious step-off acceleration, even in the more relaxed driving modes, despite a kerb weight that's over 500kg more than that of the GT 4-Door Coupé.

Traction off the line is outstanding and a big part of why the new model is able to challenge AMG’s petrol-powered four-door flagship for outright pace off the line. Keep it nailed and it gathers pace with great determination, tracking with outstanding straight-line stability well into triple-digit speeds.

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However, the EQS 53 is equally as impressive on part-throttle loads, where the front motor is engaged from the drive process and at its most efficient.

Steering-wheel-mounted paddles allow you to alter the level of energy regeneration in three steps, the highest of which claimed to harvest up to 300kW, pulling it up very smartly when you lift.

Drivetrain refinement is excellent. There was a high-pitched whistle from the front motor under light load on occasion in the early example car we drove, but as a whole the drivetrain is very smooth and quiet.

Too quiet? Try the AMG Sound Experience system, which adds a range of synthetic sounds to the drive process. They’re linked to throttle pressure, becoming louder as you tickle performance from the motors. Oddly, though, they remain very subdued on a trailing throttle, which is where traditional petrol-powered AMG models are at their snarling best.

As with the driveline, AMG has tweaked the EQS’s air suspension. Changes include a model-specific adaptive dampers similar to those used by the GT 4-Door Coupé as well as a reduction in ride height.

Our first drive of the EQS 53 came in California on a combination of heavily patchworked highways and wonderfully flowing canyon roads. The light steering action is sharper and arguably more communicative than that of the standard EQS, owing to the inclusion of uniquely specified bushes and the larger contact patches of its front tyres.

The EQS 53 turns in with great enthusiasm when running in Sport mode. For such a big car, it's quite easy to place on the road and very obliging when you ask for a quick change of direction. Given the sort of lateral forces that it's capable of generating mid-corner, though, its steering could do with more meaningful weighting off-centre.

Admittedly, the four-wheel steering system takes a lot of credit for the inherent agility. That a car measuring easily more than five metres long offers such fluid properties is credit to AMG’s engineering prowess. The low centre of gravity – a result of housing the battery low down within the floor structure – also plays a crucial role in heightening the handling.

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Owing to the weight, there's substantial inertia in corners. However, the variable qualities of the four-wheel drive system, which allow up to 100% of drive to either the front or the rear, ensures grip from the upgraded tyres remains strong on most surfaces.

Overall balance is very impressive and quite rear-biased when you begin to push. There's also great traction when you deploy those generous reserves with an earnest stab of the throttle on the exit to corners.

When you do overstep the limits, the electronic stability program is very quick to react with automatic braking of individual wheels and rapid redeployment of power to trim your line and help to keep you out of trouble.  

With its own unique suspension tuning, the EQS 53 is better tied down than the EQS 580. However, there's quite a bit of body roll at times. At least this movement is clearly communicated and quite progressive in the way it builds, allowing you to anticipate it and take action accordingly.

Less distinguished is the ride quality. The air-sprung underpinnings are quite firm, even in Comfort mode. This leads to a degree of harshness and quite a lot of vertical movement when the road surface is less than smooth, particularly at the front end, which fails to mask high-frequency bumps at speed with great distinction.

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There's also a significant amount of tyre roar compared with the standard version of the EQS, too.   

Another concern centres around brake feel. While the upgraded system, using six-piston callipers up front and two-piston callipers at the rear, is tremendously powerful in its ability to haul up the EQS 53, the action of the pedal leaves a lot to be desired. The weighting is inconsistent and it lacks meaningful feel.

With its battery supporting charging at rates of up to 200kW, the EQS 53 can be charged in as little as 30 minutes by a high-powered charger. With WLTP-certified energy consumption between 2.56 and 2.94 miles per kWh, overall range is put at 318 to 364 miles.

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The EQS 53 isn't actually AMG’s first electric car. That honour rests with the limited-run SLS E-Cell introduced back in 2012. But it is where AMG's electric-car ambitions gain volume status.

In the best of AMG traditions, it's hugely powerful, explosively fast and very accurate in its actions. It also offers a truly outstanding interior, an excellent range and impressive quality.

Should I buy one?

A definitive verdict will come when we get to drive it on UK road, but for now, there are some question marks hanging over its ride, which, contrary to the smoothing character of the EQS 580 that we drove earlier this year, was found wanting over certain roads we encountered in the US.

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We’re also yet to see an official price – although the rear-driven EQS 450 Exclusive commands £120,995 here, and the new dual-motor AMG model is expected to be positioned well above that.

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