Say hello to India’s first locally-assembled luxury EV
It’s a proud moment as we are driving not just any electric car but the grandest of them all that Mercedes-Benz has ever produced, the EQS. What makes this even more special is that this luxury EV is assembled in India at the Chakan plant making it the first time an EQS has been manufactured outside of Germany. Mercedes-Benz India has produced a lot of its models here but the EQS is probably the feather in its cap and a start to the next new chapter for the brand in India. While the AMG variant was the first to be launched in India as a CBU, the locally assembled model is the EQS 580 that you see here.
The EQS stands out from the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup thanks to its all-new design approach but loses out on the sportier bumpers and wheels. This car is a lot simpler in comparison but has the styling to attract a lot of attention. It’s a large car, after all, and a luxury EV that is comparable to the mighty S-Class when it comes to positioning. The highlights of the exterior are the unique and new face that the EQ models follow and the sheer length of the car that has been moulded in a coupe-like form. This form and cleaner front-end help the EQS 580 achieve a drag coefficient of 0.20Cd, making it the most aerodynamic car in the world. The frameless doors and pop out door-handles add to the luxury quotient and the large 20-inch wheels fill up the wheel arches quite well thanks to the medium profile Pirellis. The rear just like the front features a centre LED light bar that connects to the sleek and attractive taillamps.
Step inside and it’s an all-new world. The current set of Mercedes-Benz models is known for a well-built interior boasting unique ambient lighting and a large infotainment screen. The EQS takes this to another dimension. The entire dashboard boasts three displays that sit under a 56-inch curved glass. This together forms the Hyperscreen, which is the core of the EQS. The system features an 8-core CPU with 24GB RAM to help connect all functions of the car and can be accessed by the driver using the massive centre section of the touch screen. The Hyperscreen may look like a distraction to the driver but it never felt that way while on the move. The EQS is more like a showcase of the future of Mercedes-Benz that one can have today. There’s also a sense of familiarity in the car thanks to traditional Mercedes controls that remain despite it being an EV. The front seats and steering wheel are similar in comfort and feel to the S-Class, making it one of the most luxurious EVs ever. The same applies to the rear seat too, there’s a lot of kneeroom thanks to the long wheelbase while overall comfort is comparable to the best luxury sedans. Ambient lighting can also be customised and can be accessed from either the centre console or the included tablet that sits on the rear armrest. There are a host of other features too like massage front seats that further pamper the occupants and a Burmester 15-speaker system. There’s a lot of boot space despite the large cabin too, the coupe-like form means the hatchback-like tailgate opens to give access to 610-litres of luggage area making it a proper grand tourer.
So what’s it like to drive? Well, the EQS 580 may not boast an AMG badge but that doesn’t mean performance takes a back seat. The 580 gets the same 107.8kWh lithium-ion battery as the EQS 53 AMG with slightly lower power ratings. The 4Matic system is standard and this means power is sent to two electric motors to make a combined power output of 523PS and a massive 855Nm of torque instantly! It may be a lot lower than the AMG variant but is still enough to catapult this large-footprint car to 100kmph in a claimed 4.3 seconds. This is supercar territory and all this is done with ease. We were three in the car and a relaxed launch itself propelled the car to the ton in about 5 seconds. Every time I was shotgun and Abhay floored on the accelerator, it created that feeling in my belly that you only experience on a roller coaster or a hypercar. Newton’s first law of motion is experienced here and the acceleration is addictive and something I haven’t experienced in any ICE car. That said, the motor also feels at home cruising at triple-digit speeds and it can do it the whole day without any fuss. Just a tap on the throttle and you can overtake cars way more effortlessly and quicker than any other luxury car out there. Speeds can come up in a jiffy and the EQS teaches one to be gentle on the throttle too. Top speed is a claimed 210kmph but the overall ARAI claimed range of 857km makes it the highest for any EV car sold in the country and can put most ICE cars a run for their money, In the real world, a lot of parameters play in affecting range, especially weather. However, our drive from the factory to the venue and back via urban roads and expressway driving meant that the range dropped from 520km to 285km. A realistic range of 550kms is achievable making it possible to drive between two big cities and avoid facing range anxiety too.
In terms of dynamics, the large footprint does make its presence felt especially around tight turns around the hills etc but the car holds a great line around corners. There’s also rear-wheel steering offered standard for the first 500 customers which helps with the handling and reduces the turning radius by a margin (very useful in our country). The various drive modes also change the experience slightly thanks to more steering feedback while the overall ride quality is very impressive despite the 20-inch wheels, The Pirelli Zero tyres offer a good balance between ride and handling but did tend to make some noise under braking. Braking is impressive but the brake pedal travel takes some time to get used to. There is brake recuperation and the strength can be adjusted using the paddle shifters. I ended up using the middle setting more often. Ground clearance is very low and the car can scrape over speed breakers, especially the ones that aren’t designed well. However, there is ride height control and one can even save points where it needs to be used the EQS will automatically increase ride height the next time you drive past the same area, clever! Safety is never compromised too and the EQS 580 comes equipped with nine airbags, lane change, lane keep and auto brake function as standard among others. The car also received a five-star EURO NCAP rating.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 is a landmark moment for India and the brand too, the fact that this flagship car is being manufactured in India within a year of its International launch is quite remarkable. The local assembly and lower taxes for EV cars and no road tax in a few states mean that the EQS 580 is priced lower than the S-Class at Rs 1.55 crore (ex-India) and a whopping Rs 90 lakh lower than the EQS 53 AMG. The EQS defines the future present and is the beginning of a new era of electric luxury cars in India and the world. We can’t wait to go long-distance touring on this one, more on it very soon.