The first born-electric Merc is decidedly un-Merc, packs in solid performance and loads of tech.
Published on Sep 07, 2022 11:00:00 AM
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Easy to drive fast and hustle through corners but lacks engagement of a thorough bred AMG
It sports a lengthy wheelbase of 3,210mm.
Fast and futuristic AMG EQS 53’s hyperscreen likely to be a bigger draw than hyper performance.
610-litre boot, the biggest yet in a Merc sedan.
There’s a lot to celebrate with the new Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+. It’s the first all-electric Mercedes sedan built on a bespoke, pure electric platform, it’s the shape of things to come from the oldest carmaker in the world, and most importantly, it’s the first Mercedes EV to wear the coveted AMG badge. It’s not the first high-performance EV in India though – the Audi RS e-tron GT and the Porsche Taycan slipped into the Indian market well before the AMG EQS 53. But this new performance all-electric Merc brings a lot of new tricks to the EV party with its radical design and tech.
EVs recalibrate the concept of power and performance, which is why the ‘53’ badge is quite misleading. 53 is the lesser AMG badge stuck on milder six-cylinder variants, while the 63 badge is for the wilder, full-blown V8s. But look at the spec figures and you’ll be confused. Very confused, and completely blown away.
The AMG EQS 53 with the Dynamic Plus package (standard for India) produces an electrifying 761hp, and with the boost function activated, maximum torque is a mind-twisting 1,020Nm. That’s more than any combustion engine-powered AMG. For reference, the most potent ICE AMG, the GT Black series, produces 730hp, while the S63 AMG, which is a closer comparison, dishes out ‘only’ 603hp.
The AMG EQS 53 with the Dynamic Plus package (standard for India) produces 761hp and 1,020Nm.
And when you pin the EQS 53’s accelerator pedal to the carpet, you can only imagine what an EQS 63 (there’s no talk of one yet) would be like, because it’s hard to imagine something quicker than this. Using launch control or Race Start mode, activated by clicking the controller wheel on the steering to Sport Plus, left foot on the brake, right foot on the throttle pedal, the synthesised sound builds up like the Millennium Falcon ready for take off. Release the brake and, boy, does the EQS 53 take off. In fact, it rockets off the line to hit 100kph in a scarcely believable 3.4 seconds (claimed).
0-100 kph in Sport+ mode is achieved in just 3.71 seconds.
To activate the Race Start mode, the battery needs to be at least 75 percent full, otherwise in regular Sport+ mode, the 0-100kph time is a ‘slower’ 3.71 seconds. But in an EV, it’s not the 0-100kph that is the true measure of performance, but the instant, slingshot-like acceleration you experience from a standing start. The bolt from 0-60kph (2.02 seconds) or 0-80kph (2.78 seconds) bolt, puts all that instant torque, delivered uninterrupted and seamlessly, into proper perspective. That a car weighing 2,655kg can leap forward like a scalded cheetah with a mere poke on the right pedal is downright physics bending.
The dash from 50-80kph takes 1.10 seconds and a burst from 60kph to 100kph, which you’d typically do on a highway, takes all of 1.65 seconds. Top speed, if you can legally find a road (NATRAX is your best bet), is limited to 250kph, which is about the ceiling for EVs to balance power, performance and range.
Offers a plush ride that's not seen in other AMGs.
The surge and exhilarating sensation of speed you get is addictive. You can’t seem to get enough of the thrill of sheer accelerative g-forces pressing your cheeks back. But how often can you keep indulging in full bore acceleration sorties? If you have passengers in the rear, they may turn a different kind of green and mess up the plush interiors!
The thing is, once you’re through with your thrills of stabbing the accelerator, you won’t know what to do with so much power. Yes, that lunge forward is addictive, but how many times can you keep doing it?
We found ourselves driving most of the time in Comfort mode and in this relaxed setting, there’s still more than enough grunt, to silently scythe past traffic. Silently? AMGs are not meant to be silent and a spine-tingling sound track is very much a part of the AMG experience. And that’s where the EQS 53 falls flat. Sure, you get multiple sound tracks to choose from, artificially generated and piped through the speakers.
The pitch and intensity of sound rises and ebbs with speed to mimic an engine, but quite honestly, it doesn’t sound anywhere close to a V8’s throaty soundtrack nor a V6’s for that matter. It’s a weird, synthesised hum that sounds more like the work of Kraftwerk than Affalterbach. You buy an EV for its silence and it’s best enjoyed that way. And if you want sound, you might as well play your favourite songs through the mind blowing 15-speaker, Burmester audio system.
The dual electric motors drives all four wheels.
A pair of AMG-spec permanently excited synchronous (PSM) electric motors, one for each axle, drives all four wheels, but the torque split is biased towards the front wheels. The default torque split is biased to the front wheels and so it’s a bit under-steery and doesn’t have the rear-wheel-drive adjustability of the ICE AMGs.
The physics of a car that is so powerful and heavy isn’t easy to deal with, less so when you have to deliver the primary requirement of refinement and comfort. Fettling the first all-electric AMG’s chassis was a daunting task for Mercedes-Benz engineers who have played with the multi-link air suspension, adjustable damping and anti-roll bars to prioritise comfort over a hard-edged sportiness.
There’s a soft ride to the car which gives it a plushness not seen in other AMGs. Even in Sport Plus mode, the suspension doesn’t feel overly firm and it’s only the sharp edges that filter through. Mercedes has played it safe and the India-spec car comes with 275/40 R21 tyres, which are sensibly not too low profile (for a high performance car) and have a decent layer of sidewall cushioning, which is crucial for our roads.
The steering is quite quick and the rear wheels, which steer upto nine degrees, give the EQS 53 the agility and manouverability of a much smaller sedan and not something that is 5.2-metre long. What is missing though is feedback from the numb steering, which has a bit of a dead zone around the straight-ahead position. Also, the brake pedal has a long travel and feels a bit artificial, and the switch from regeneration (which is quite strong) to the hydraulic system isn’t perfectly seamless.
The low centre of gravity gives the sedan a reassuring planted feel through the corners.
Still, the EQS 53 drives with enough verve and precision to keep you nicely entertained on your favourite road. The low centre of gravity gives the big sports sedan a reassuring planted feel and you don’t feel its weight through corners. This is a car you can drive very fast effortlessly. It’s just that the driving experience is a bit aloof and nowhere near as engaging as the hard core AMGs we are familiar with.
Lift function helps clear most speed breakers but underbody still hits larger ones.
Sitting 114mm above the road at its lowest point and with a lengthy wheelbase of 3,210mm, we thought ground clearance would be a big problem but were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t. It’s all thanks to the lift function which raises the ride height by 25mm that allows the EQS 53 to traverse most speed breakers comfortably. It’s only the monstrous speed breakers aimed at slowing down trucks that made contact with the underbody. Lift or no lift, EQS 53 owners are well advised to treat speed breakers with respect.
Car buying preferences are pivoting from hardware to software, especially for EVs, so tech inside the cabin rather than what’s under the hood gains more importance. Speaking of what’s under the hood, well, there’s nothing! Well, not quite. That’s where the electronics, controllers and part of the HVAC system sit. It’s just that we don’t know and can’t see what’s under the bonnet, because it is sealed and can only be opened at a workshop.
The central 17.7-inch screen houses the infotainment’s main functions.
The cabin is where all the action is and it’s centred around the 56-inch ‘hyperscreen’, which is a bit of a misnomer because it is three separate screens integrated into a single dashboard panel that stretches from pillar to pillar. The central 17.7-inch screen houses the infotainment’s main functions and are easy to access and operate.
The familiar digital instrument cluster is similar to those in other MBUX-equipped cars and has lots of screen configurations to play with. The passenger is also treated to a similar-sized screen to keep him entertained with vehicle info, navigation, media functions and even jazzy wallpapers!
The digital instrument cluster is similar to those found in other MBUX-equipped cars.
What is truly impressive is the crispness of the graphics, the clarity of the cameras and the speed of operation, with minimal latency. It’s all next level. There are shortcuts and permanent icons for the aircon, but you do miss the lovely tactile feel of traditional buttons, and then there's the annoying trackpad controls on the steering – something we’ve complained about in the latest Mercs.
Being an AMG, you get a dedicated performance menu with lots of dynamic displays, the power splits front and back, and an AMG Track Pace circuit data logger should you choose to hit the circuit.
The front seats of the AMG EQS 53 are not as sportily contoured as other AMGs.
With no lump of an engine or transmission to accommodate, the cabin of the EQS 53 has a lavish sense of space accentuated by the twin sunroofs. The front seats aren’t as sportily contoured as other AMGs but provide nicely balanced comfort and all-round support to hold you in place when cornering hard.
In the rear, the fantastic legroom and absolutely flat floor gives a lounge-like experience and the tallest of passengers will have enough room and more to get comfortable. However, compared to an S-class, the seats aren’t as plush and don’t have the same level of under thigh support.
Rear passengers get lots of space but seat not as comfy as an S-class.
Fit and finish in the cabin, however, are S-class levels and the rich mix of materials combined with some very cool ambient lighting and the Hyperscreen gives the cabin a luxury spaceship feel. Luggage space? That’s a big complaint with the S-class, but the EQS goes to the other extreme with its 610-litre boot which opens like a hatch.
Under the floor is a massive 107.8 kWh battery, the biggest yet on an EV in India. This equates to a class-leading range of 580km as per the official test cycle. In our brief drives, which included flat-out acceleration tests, a highway drive and a city loop covering a total of 333km, the battery dropped to 24 percent charge.
Massive 107.8 kWH battery offers huge range but takes long to charge.
Range is rarely going to be an issue with the EQS 53, it’s a car you can hit the highway with and come home with enough juice to spare. It’s just that charging such a large battery takes time – around four hours on the commonly found 25kW DC fast chargers charger. Which is why it’s a good thing that Mercedes is installing super fast 180kW chargers at key locations on the highways and at its dealerships to top up your battery a lot faster.
What can split opinion is the EQS 53’s shape. It is decidedly un-Mercedes and radically different from any other Merc sedan out there. The monobox design is at odds with the traditional three-box Mercs, so those wanting that time-honoured regal, stately look will be disappointed with the EQS 53. However, let’s remember that this is primarily a performance sedan and its sleek, low slung and very slippery shape (it has a drag coefficient of 0.23Cd) will appeal to techy new age buyers who want a piece of the future.
And that future will cost you an eye-watering Rs 2.45 crore that’s Rs 88 lakh more than an S-Class! Is the AMG EQS 53 worth that kind of money? If you are looking for the ultimate electric thrills in a car that’s equally civilised and supremely comfortable, there’s nothing to beat Mercedes’s first electric AMG. However, we can’t help but think it might be better to wait for the standard EQS 580 4Matic, which is quick enough, handles pretty well, has the same stunning cabin and is likely to cost around Rs 50 lakh less. What you could get for the same money is still the best EV in the market with a GLA thrown in!
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ADAS is becoming increasingly common. What is your opinion on this safety tech?
S. Anand - 206 days ago
139mm Ground Clearence is VERY LOW , Will be big Issue in INDIA .What About a Sparewheel ?Atleast A Donut Make Sense.
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