2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS First Drive Review: AMG Goes Electric and Nails the Landing
What are the most important characteristics of a sports car? Eye-popping specifications? Provocative design? The assault it mounts on the senses? Truthfully, the answer to that question is constantly being redefined. Ever since Teslas have been beating damn-near everything on the drag strip, the mold for traditional high-performance sports cars has eroded. Today, that mold gets further redefined with the arrival of the 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS, the newest electric contender from the German heavyweight AMG.
Officially the first-ever electric car to wear Affalterbach’s nameplate, the AMG EQS is an amped-up version of the luxurious Mercedes-EQ EQS sedan that aims to sell wealthy car enthusiasts a new idea bundled in a new product: an electric AMG. A brand notorious for building powerful, obnoxiously loud, gas-gulping vehicles has built a car that’s A: electric and B: silent. I’m a bit surprised AMG’s first EV isn’t a tire-obliterating, two-door sports car for the world’s playboys, but it actually brings everything pretty poetically full circle, as the first production AMGs were also sedans.
2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS Specs
- Base price: TBA
- Powertrain: 107.8-kWh lithium-ion battery | dual permanently synchronous electric motors | 1-speed transmission | all-wheel drive
- EQS: 649 hp | 700 lb-ft
- EQS Dynamic Plus: 751 hp | 752 lb-ft
The AMG EQS sits at the top of Mercedes’ current electric vehicle lineup, representing the Final Boss version of the automaker’s first EQS electric sedan. Unlike every car and SUV Mercedes currently builds, however, this AMG won’t have any numerical variants like 53, 55, 63—or even 450 and 580 like the regular EQS does. It’ll simply be called the AMG EQS.
In stock form, the AMG EQS produces 649 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque from its AMG-specific dual electric motors. For those hungry for more, the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package—essentially the “63 S” in electric form—offers an additional layer of sportiness. Performance-oriented tricks like “Race Start” (think launch control) and a sound-effects package to make up for the lack of engine sound. The power figure climbs by 102 hp to reach a total output of 751 hp and 752 lb-ft. That’s more than any other production Mercedes-AMG. And while not an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s also 41 hp more than the mighty AMG GT Black Series.
The AMG’s exterior, too, is flashier than the normal EQS, with AMG badging sprucing up the front and rear fascias and larger, more aggressive-looking intakes that give the car a more sinister persona. The Panamericana grille is rather large and imposing, as is the stretched-out taillight out back. The wheels are gorgeous, multi-spoke 22-inch rollers. The most eye-catching feature of the test car was the matte finish on the charcoal-color paint, which I single-handedly blame for lots of people wanting to race me. It shouts, “I’m young; I’m rich; I’m a bit of a douche, and I drive a very expensive Mercedes.”
The AMG cabin only alters the original EQS design with a different color palette and materials found throughout the luxurious cocoon. The seats are finished in Alcantara-like material and feel and look sportier due to different bolstering and seat design, including AMG badging and contrast stitching. The same applies to the headliner and door panels, while the steering wheel is swapped for an AMG Performance unit similar to the one I’ve used in the GLS63 and GT.
My time behind the wheel of the AMG EQS was brief and involved mostly stop-and-go city and highway traffic around Los Angeles, and some windy backroads. It was all during 55-degree weather with plenty of fog and rain. Frankly, it wasn’t a fun drive, but it was a real-world one. (I spent time in the passenger seat as my drive partner waltzed through mountain roads, but by the time it was my time to drive, the fog had moved in and negated me a chance to do the same.)
I’ll start with this: In most high-performance cars it’s easy to look down at the speedo and realize you’re doing 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit. In the AMG EQS, it’s easy to look down at the speedo and realize you’re doing double the speed limit. Sixty mph feels like you’re at a standstill, and it’s not until you hit 100 that you start feeling like you’re moving. Push the needle further to the right and your eyes start telling you that you’re crossing the line between fast and really freaking fast.
The car’s sheer ability to rocket forward is impressive, though that’s not its biggest accolade—that’s its stability. This is a Mercedes-AMG, and it feels like one whether you’re driving straight, cornering, doing 35 mph, or 135 mph. It’s a confident car that sits on a rock-solid platform and rides on an impressive adaptive suspension that tricks you into feeling like you’re driving a much smaller and lighter car.
Flick the steering wheel and the front and rear tires (four-wheel steering, remember) react immediately to the driver’s input, doing exactly what you want them to do with German precision. Turn-in is sharp and the turning radius is impressive for a 17-foot-long sedan—again, courtesy of the standard four-wheel steering. This came in handy while navigating parking lots or doing u-turns in tight downtown streets.
The responsive steering is further aided by a magnificent air suspension with adaptive dampening, which constantly monitors road conditions and driving behavior to make milli-second adjustments. I was surprised at how well the AMG EQS handled road undulations while cornering at speed, with the car remaining planted and not feeling hassled in the slightest. Not a skip, not a shudder. I could feel this from the passenger seat as we hustled on less-than-perfect roads.
In the city and with me behind the wheel, the suspension was supple and everything I’d want from what’s essentially an electric S-Class—even when using “Sport+” mode, which is the sportiest of the four modes offered. In other modes (Slippery, Comfort, and Sport) the suspension feel would’ve been slightly softer and less reactive, the steering slightly less weighted, and the overall dynamics of the car a bit more relaxed. The ride height can also fluctuate by 15mm depending on the driving mode.
The only demerit I could find during my brief moments with the car concerned its back row. Traditional S-Classes are cars that you want to be driven around in. Here, though, rear seat comfort and headroom fell short. I found it rather cramped.
The more time I spent in the car, the more I drank the electric AMG kool-aid. Part of me was skeptical about an electric sedan this large being able to deliver the AMG experience I’ve come to adore. Mile after mile, though, my perception began to change. True to ICE AMG philosophy, the AMG EQS is a well-appointed bruiser and an extremely sleek cruiser. And a more sustainable one, too, thanks to recycled and renewable raw materials such as yarn and nylon for the seats, floor coverings, and even recycled steel scrap for the body.
And I’m sure I’ll receive death threats for this, but, the driving sound effects are cool and quite helpful. They help you comprehend just how hard you’re accelerating, otherwise, you’ll look down and realize you’re doing 150 mph in complete silence.
This brings me to my last point: range. According to Mercedes, the AMG EQS has a 277-mile range, per “U.S. cycle.” Now, this is not an EPA-estimated range, but a range that Mercedes has calculated according to U.S. standards, not European. The car has not yet been officially rated by the EPA. That being said, the test car showed 315 miles of range at the start of the drive. After completing the roughly 170-mile route, it had 55 miles left in the “tank.” This means it used up roughly an additional 90 miles to complete the trip. Considering how we put it through lots of heavy acceleration, high-speed driving, and other things you could consider “horsing around,” I don’t think that’s half bad. It would’ve been a similar situation in a gasoline-powered car.
When it comes to the competition, the AMG EQS is strategically positioned to compete aggressively with rivals from legacy and new automakers alike. Both the Tesla Model S Plaid and Lucid Air beat the AMG in terms of raw power, acceleration, and range, but have poor or yet-unknown track records in terms of build quality and longevity. When aimed at the Porsche Taycan Turbo and Turbo S, the AMG EQS pretty much ties them in terms of power but comes out on top with its longer range. But to choose the AMG is to choose a brand that’s very, very good at making fast cars handle and feel great while going very fast.
Mercedes-AMG represents power, literally and figuratively. It also represents luxury and style. After my short time in the EQS AMG, I’m happy to report this electric sedan still holds true to those core values. It’ll likely take time for folks to come around to this idea, but when they do, an authentic AMG electric experience awaits them.
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