Has S-Class luxury been successfully packaged into a modern-day high-rise EV?

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When considering the Mercedes EQS SUV, you find yourself wondering about what is a continuing quandary for the ‘legacy’ car manufacturers: how do you maintain your identity when there are no engines to establish it, and when the traditional rules of vehicle design no longer apply in quite the same way as they have done for 100 years?

It clearly has an impact on model hierarchies, as they get frantically rejigged and renamed.

The EQS SUV is mandated to have a speed limit warning, but unlike in Lexuses, it’s at least very easy to turn off

The Mercedes S-Class is a well-understood concept: a luxury limousine that’s equally suited to being chauffeur- or owner-driven. The electric Mercedes EQS, while impressive in a number of ways, is more of a technical showcase and less of a prestige saloon. Strictly speaking, it is a hatchback and not a saloon at all.

As we will find out, the EQS SUV doesn’t follow tradition any more than its hatch-saloon counterpart and is something rather different from the ‘tall electric S-Class’ that its name would suggest. One look at its stubby bonnet and seven-seat layout confirms as much.

That leaves the question of what this EQS SUV is instead, who it’s for, and if this Alabama-built behemoth is just an attempt at making an EV for America, or whether it has any relevance in Europe.

The range at a glance

450 4Matic355bhp£129,470
580 4Matic536bhp£139,470
Mercedes-Maybach EQS 680 SUV649bhptbc

You have the choice of two dual-motor set-ups, the single-motor 450 not being offered in the UK. Each version can be specified in AMG Line Premium Plus or Business Class trim. The latter costs £14,325 extra.

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A Maybach version arrives later in the year for those who want ultimate opulence when being chauffeured.


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Built in Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa plant alongside the GLE, GLS and EQE SUV, the EQS SUV is clearly a US-sized car, one that could stand up to a Ford F-150. 

At 5125mm in length, the EQS SUV is a good deal longer still than the largest EVs from BMW and Audi – the iX (4953mm) and the Q8 E-tron (4915mm). It’s closer in length to the piston-powered GLS (5209mm), but because it’s built on a dedicated EV platform, it has a shorter bonnet and shorter overhangs, giving the car a longer wheelbase than the GLS and thus making more of its considerable footprint.

That also makes the EQS SUV one of the few EVs to be available with seven seats. In fact, all UK-market EQS SUVs come with a third row.

The EQS SUV uses the same EVA2 platform as the EQS saloon and the various versions of the EQE. For this Mercedes range-topper, everything is supersized. As such, the EQS SUV is powered by a gargantuan battery: it was 108.4kWh at launch but was quickly upgraded to 118.0kWh. All cars made from January 2024 have this battery (along with a few other small upgrades), although our test car still had the original pack.

The battery is of the usual nickel-manganese-cobalt type but claimed to have 10% less of the contentious cobalt than previous generations.

As you might imagine, a big battery means a big kerb weight. Mercedes states 2730kg for our test car with the original battery, and it troubled Millbrook’s weighbridge at a whopping 2899kg. With the bigger battery, the quoted kerb weight breaks into three tonnes.

To harness all that tonnage, every UK-market car makes use of the full arsenal of suspension technology. Air springs with adaptive damping are standard, and automatically lower the body at speeds of over 68mph for better stability and lower drag, rising back up below 50mph.

More simply specified versions exist elsewhere, but all UK-market EQS SUVs have dual motors for four-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering that goes up to 10deg of steering angle. That enables a turning circle of 11.0m – the same as an A-Class.

You will undoubtedly make up your own mind about how the EQS SUV looks, and how it compares with the more aggressive BMW iX and the more conventional Audi Q8 E-tron.

In EVs, aerodynamics are a bigger factor for efficiency than weight, and that defines the EQS SUV’s look – just like with the EQS saloon and EQE. The blanked-off grille, tall and rounded front, and raked windscreen are the result. A lip on the rear diffuser and various underbody spoilers help too. Indeed, the Mercedes’ drag coefficient of 0.26 beats the Q8 E-tron’s 0.28, though not quite the iX’s 0.25.

Talking of efficiency, the EQS SUV was surprisingly launched without a heat pump. The literature claims the car will try to use waste heat from the powertrain to heat the cabin, and that this should be sufficient in most circumstances. Nevertheless, a heat pump will be fitted on updated models.


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The EQS SUV’s unusual shape and silhouette have a profound effect on the car’s cabin.

Naturally, the space inside is vast, but we will get to that in due course. The first thing you notice is the rather odd view out. The tall bonnet means the EQS has a very high scuttle, with the rest of the car seeming to fit slightly awkwardly around it.

The windscreen is remarkably short for such a tall car, but to avoid the interior feeling confined, the EQS SUV still gets fairly tall side windows. This means the A-pillar and door card need to contort to make up the height difference.

Although it is possible to set the front seats fairly low, you won’t want to because unless you are exceptionally tall, the gauges will be set too high.

Adding to the strangeness is that all the screens are canted over, suggesting you are supposed to look down on them. To do that, however, you need to set the seat so high that you get awfully close to the ceiling.

The good news is that you do get used to this unusual relationship between seats, controls and scuttle. However, it all smacks of compromise, which really should not be the case in a £140,000 electric car on a dedicated EV platform.

Otherwise, this is a now-typical new-style Mercedes cabin. All UK-market EQS SUVs are fitted with the Hyperscreen as standard, which puts the driver display, multimedia screen and passenger display behind one enormous glass panel.

There are very few physical buttons, but Mercedes’ MBUX interface manages that well thanks to a slick interface that puts frequently used functions within quick and easy reach. A panel of shortcuts on the centre console and an array of physical seat controls help as well.

As with the EQS saloon, the build quality is a mixed bag. In our Business Class test car, there was plenty of soft nappa leather, metal-effect trim and open-pore wood. Most testers even came around to the dark grey microfibre material that tops the doors, dash and armrests.

Equally, there are some hard plastics to be found lower down that are unbefitting of a £140,000 car, and some of the gloss black panels feel flimsy.

Clearly, the amount of space on offer here is not in doubt. This is a vast car, and with the second row slid all the way back, even the tallest passengers will be able to stretch out and put their feet under the front seats.

So configured, there isn’t any leg room to speak of in the third row, but with a bit of compromise from the second-row passengers it is possible for seven tall adults to travel in the EQS SUV.

That said, those in the rearmost seats won’t be especially comfortable since the floor is high in relation to the seat base. Children, however, should be absolutely fine.

All passengers get a selection of USB ports, cupholders and air vents, so will have no cause for complaint in that respect. The rearmost side windows are small compared with a Kia EV9.

Where the EQS SUV drops the ball as a practical seven-seater is when it comes to raising, lowering and sliding the seats. The third row is purely manual, and its buttons and levers are quite awkwardly placed.

The second row is purely electric, but that comes with its own set of problems. The second row sometimes refuses to slide out of the way to let third-row passengers in or out because it thinks something is blocking it. Then, when it moves back into place, the backrest never fully reclines. Instead, you need to use the controls on the door for that.

One other annoyance is that the luggage cover needs to be removed to raise the third row of seats, but there’s no good place to store it.

So while the EQS SUV has the space and digital tech, the much cheaper EV9 is better thought out as a versatile family car.

Multimedia system

We have experienced this generation of Mercedes’ MBUX interface on several other cars. Although it takes a bit of getting used to, it generally works very well, with quick responses, clear graphics and sensibly laid-out menus that don’t bury important functions in menus.

Smartphone mirroring is integrated well, and the connected navigation is fairly up to date when it comes to traffic.

All UK-market EQS SUVs have the Hyperscreen, which adds a display for the passenger. This display can’t be controlled unless the car senses weight in the seat, and when the interior camera detects the driver looking at the passenger display, it will automatically dim.

Our test car also had a further three screens in the back. They can supposedly stream video and TV, but none of the main streaming services appeared to be included, and setting it all up wasn’t the most straightforward process. An iPad would be an easier way to keep the kids entertained.



The EQS SUV is a big, heavy luxury car, rather than a performance car, but is still more than quick enough in standard 355bhp 450 form without paying more for the 536bhp, 0-62mph-in-4.6sec 580 version.

On the test track, the EQS 450 SUV took a tenth less to reach 62mph than its quoted 6.0sec time and continued merrily on to its 130mph top speed. It’s all wholly undramatic – it doesn’t even pipe in spaceship noises like BMWs do.

After the EQS SUV, I got straight into a BMW X6. Despite being a smaller car, it suddenly felt like an oil tanker to manoeuvre

Regenerative braking is handled the same as in all electric Mercedes. The steering wheel paddles let you cycle through coasting, standard regen, heavy regen and adaptive regen modes. Only the latter allows one-pedal driving.

If you choose to use the brake pedal, you will run into a persistent weakness of electrified Mercedes: pedal feel. The first part of the travel controls the regen and is very light as well as inconsistent between the different regen modes.

By comparison, the pedal needs a hefty shove once you get into the friction brakes, and that doesn’t inspire confidence when you need to slow down this heavy SUV in a hurry.

There’s nothing wrong with outright stopping power, and the car pulls up in a controlled fashion. That said, it pitches heavily on its soft suspension.


mercedes eqs suv review 2024 02 panning side

No one would expect B-road entertainment from the EQS SUV. In fact, you might imagine avoiding any roads other than wide, main ones with a car of this size. With all that said, the EQS SUV’s handling is actually quite impressive.

You notice the four-wheel steering system right away. The 10deg of rear-axle counter-steering angle is about the most of any production car, and makes this huge SUV easy to manoeuvre in tight car parks.mAbove parking speeds, the system heightens the car’s agility. Mercedes is very good at tuning rear-steer, and it never feels unnatural.

Indeed, the EQS SUV handles like a car a good half-tonne lighter than it actually is. Helping with that is the air suspension, which allows plenty of roll in its standard setting but does tie the body down sufficiently in Sport mode. In fact, the default mode is so soft that it is worth knocking it into Sport even for motorway slip roads.

Lacking active anti-roll bars, the EQS isn’t one of those SUVs that tries to cheat physics. There’s always some body roll, but it’s controlled well, and the strong grip from the 275-section Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres and light, accurate steering inspire plenty of assured confidence.

Comfort & Isolation

You might hope the ultra-soft suspension translates into pillowy ride comfort, and to an extent it does. The long-wave ride does indeed deliver some magic carpet feeling on motorways and A-roads. 

The problem comes around town, where the air suspension can’t cope with poor surfaces despite plenty of tyre sidewall. The ride becomes thumpy and uncomfortable.

In other words, whether the EQS SUV will suit you depends strongly on how it will be used. It appears to trade some refinement and isolation in the city to be an incredibly soothing motorway machine. And a big part of that is played by the noise isolation and the seats.

Just 60dBA of ambient noise at a 50mph cruise is very impressive indeed. There’s an almost complete absence of road noise, with a bit of wind noise taking over at motorway speeds. At 70mph, 65dBA is still quiet but doesn’t set new standards – it’s the same as the Porsche Cayenne S we tested recently.

As is typical with Mercedes, the seats are firm but very supportive. In Business Class, they are topped by indulgently soft pillows on the headrests. It is slightly annoying how hard it is to adjust the lumbar support and side bolsters. That’s done with quite an over-sensitive slider in a touchscreen submenu.


mercedes eqs suv review 2024 01 tracking front

Prices start at £129,470 for a 450 AMG Line Premium Plus with the bigger battery, while Business Class trim costs £143,795. Add another £10,000 to upgrade to the 580 version. Apart from a handful of paint colours and a different type of wood for the centre console, there are no separate options.

That is evidently an enormous amount of money, but if an electric luxury SUV with seven seats is what you need, there are few alternatives.

If you are willing to compromise, however, then it is possible to spend far less. A dual-motor Kia EV9 costs about half as much as our test car. The five-seat BMW iX xDrive50 is similarly opulent (possibly more so) for at least £20,000 less, while a diesel BMW X7 is even cheaper.

For a relatively powerful car with a large frontal area, our EQS SUV proved fairly efficient, and the updated version should do even better. We averaged 2.4mpkWh including performance testing in a week of temperatures around 10deg C. However, on more gentle runs, we averaged 2.9mpkWh.

That translates to a range of 310 miles, which should become 337 miles with the bigger 118kWh battery.

Our test car didn’t achieve the quoted rapid charging rate of 200kW despite trying several sites. When a rapid charger is entered as a navigation destination, the car will start preconditioning the battery and will display an estimated maximum speed.

However, while our car was reliable in starting the preconditioning, the estimated speed didn’t appear to ever go up. There is also no way to manually start the preconditioning.

Nevertheless, the EQS SUV still put in a decent performance: although it topped out at 166kW, it only dropped below 100kW when it passed 80% state of charge. Mind you, the gargantuan battery still takes a while to fill up, and at the 79p per kWh that Gridserve charges, a 10-80% charge will cost £68 (£75 with the new battery).

Mercedes offers a more comprehensive battery warranty on the EQS SUV than most, guaranteeing 70% capacity for 155,000 miles or 10 years.



If the question at the start was which role the EQS SUV fulfils in the Mercedes-Benz range, then we are still not entirely sure.

It doesn’t have the butch pseudo-off-road looks that the SUV buyer traditionally desires, but at the same time it is too expensive and not quite versatile enough to be an ideal family hauler. Instead of making an electric S-Class SUV, as the name suggests, it appears that Mercedes has made an electric R-Class.

Like the slow-selling luxury MPV from 2006, the EQS SUV has plenty of undeniable qualities. The drivetrain is impressive, and the chassis technology allows the EQS SUV to deal with its considerable weight remarkably well. The digital tech is relatively well resolved, and good noise isolation and ergonomic seats make the EQS SUV a very relaxing way to travel.

As a super-expensive, super-luxurious seven-seat electric SUV, it appears that the EQS SUV is courting a very specific buyer, and as it proved with the R-Class, there’s a good chance there won’t be enough of those in the UK.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.