Let’s talk about silence. Me, I like the quote by Leonardo da Vinci: “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” It’s up there with the line from the Dalai Lama: “Silence is sometimes the best answer”. Or leave it to novelist Sarah Dessen: “Silence is so freakin’ loud!”
Gliding effortlessly across Alligator Alley in Mercedes-Benz’ newly minted, full-size, all-electric EQS SUV, and all I can think about is this exquisitely furnished family hauler’s astonishing silence.
Yes, there’s just the faintest timpani of tires on blacktop, the merest fizz of wind whisper from around the doors, plus a distant, Tron-like hum from somewhere deep in the bowels. Marcel Marceau screaming is louder than this.
That’s the beauty of electric motivation and a slippery body that’s as smooth and aerodynamic as a bar of Dove. Plus, a single-minded focus by those white-coated Mercedes boffins to quell noise. Think encased electric motors, innovative door and window seals, and acoustic foam in every body cavity.
Based on Merc’s low-slung EQS sedan, aka the electric S-Class, this new EQS SUV satisfies our love affair with roomy, versatile, tall-riding 4x4s while piquing our growing curiosity of zero-emission vehicles.
OK, it won’t win any beauty contests. In profile, it looks like it might have popped out of a Jell-O mold. But then its closest rival, the bloated Tesla Model X, is no beauty queen either. Elon Musk himself once described it as being the Fabergé egg of cars. No yoke.
But there’s plenty of visual drama in the Merc’s bold, blacked out, solid front fascia—being electric, there’s no need for a traditional grille. I just love the multitude of tiny, backlit Mercedes tristars swirling around that big central three-pointed star. Those, and the line of wafer-thin LED running lights beneath the hood.
Inside, it’s all very much inspired by the EQS Sedan, but with considerably more headroom, and space way in the back for a third row of seats. And, like the sedan, opting for the Hyperscreen dashboard delivers a 56-inch wall of digital screens.
Being the S-Class of electric SUVs also means hedonistic levels of luxury and comfort, rom the La-Z-Boy-like, diamond-stitched seats with those insanely-decadent, puffy-pillow headrests, to the biz-jet-roomy second row with individual 11.6-inch touchscreens.
Of course, it’s the EQS SUV’s electric powertrain that grabs the headlines, and here it comes in a trio of flavors. The entry EQS 450+ (from $104,400) features a single 355-horsepower electric motor mounted in the rear axle with up to 305 miles of range.
Step up to the 450+ 4Matic (from $107,400), and you add a motor at the front axle to give all-wheel drive. While the range drops to an estimated 285 miles, 0-to-60 miles per hour sprinting goes from 6.5 seconds to 5.8 seconds.
For awesome power, performance, and refinement, you’re going to want the twin-motor EQS 580 (from $125,950) we’re driving. With its galloping 536 horses and gut-wrenching 633 pound-foot of torque, there’s power-a-plenty to catapult this 6,228-pound whopper from rest to 60 in a mere 4.5 seconds. And it will still run for 285 miles on a charge.
As we’ve come to expect from high-horsepower electric vehicles—hello Tesla Model X Plaid—off-the-line acceleration is rock-out-of-a-catapult instant. And, in the case of the EQS, eerily silent. The thing just rockets.
The surprise here, however, is its athleticism and agility through the curves. With standard rear-wheel steering, coupled with precise, super-responsive steering, the big EQS feels nimble and, dare I say, fun to drive. It’s even capable and competent off-road.
But it’s as a relaxed, refined cruiser where the big Benz excels. Air springs at each corner provide a magic carpet-like ride, with body roll reined in by variable damping and smart suspension design.
With all these qualities, this new, Alabama-built EQS 580 SUV is worth making some noise about.