Though the official unveiling of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan won’t be until mid-April, we know that the smoothly shaped full-size sedan will not be a mere electric version of the S-Class sedan – with batteries stuffed into whichever gas tank or underhood space becomes available without an engine, traditional transmission or exhaust system. No, it will be the new range-topping Mercedes-Benz sedan, on a unique platform, without the compromises inherent to converted ICE architectures.
This will likely put the EQS over and above the more traditional S-Class sedan in price and advanced interior features, though with a cozier interior meant for four people. Looking closely at a newly released batch of interior photos, which contained one solitary photo of the rear seat, shows a fifth headrest inside will at least be available, suggesting it may carry five in a pinch, but is clearly designed for four.
Mercedes-Benz officials in Germany provided a design deep-dive of the new EQS inside and out, but curiously only showed the production interior, while the exterior of the vehicle was still wrapped in camouflage. The firm’s head of exterior design Robert Lesnik said the company started with a single bow line as an aerodynamic design theme, with one overarching line stretching from the front to the relatively low cabin greenhouse, and back towards a downwards sloping rear trunk.
“There are no shutlines on the hood, thanks to the clamshell hood and hidden hinges,” he said, and even the door handles are smoothly integrated into the body, without highlighting specifically whether they’ll power out automatically as on a Tesla Model S.
He also said there is a covered wheel “that really helps the aerodynamics,” but have always been a challenge to make visually appealing. Especially if he means covered with bodywork, as on the current Honda Clarity or first generation Honda Insight. In this ultra-premium vehicle segment, visual grace has traditionally been a much higher priority than aero efficiency, or fuel efficiency, and the many spy shots of the vehicle in minimal camo doing cold or warm weather testing haven’t shown any bodywork over the wheels.
Inside, there will be two screen-heavy design choices. The standard model will offer two large screens: one that looks like a large iPad on its side behind the steering wheel, in place of the traditional gauge cluster, as well as a much larger vertically set “free-floating” center screen, which sweeps up from a covered centre console.
This allows for a variety of trim materials with contrasting colours and patterns, including available open pore wood in front of the passenger, said Belinda Günther, head of colour and trim on the EQS.
But the uplevel and more futuristic choice will be the new MBUX Hyperscreen, which will debut in the EQS, and makes the entire width of the front of the cabin a huge, flowing screen, from the left air vent just next to the driver’s door, to the single other turbine-inspired vent just under the passenger side A-pillar.
From a driver’s perspective, there’s no shift column, but a simple stalk for drive choices, as on other Mercedes models. And while the EQS will debut the Hyperscreen and share features with upcoming EQ all-electric models, Günther said this interior console is definitely not like the S-Class, with the vehicle itself shorter overall and comparable width, but with a much larger interior.
Though silence in both EVs and high-end six-figure sedans is a priority, Mercedes-Benz said it has also designed in three different “soundscapes” for the EQS: Silver Waves, for a relaxing drive that provides auditory accompaniments to how you’re working the accelerator, a more EV-enthusiast-focused Vivid Flux, and if you opt for the 15-speaker, 710-watt Burmester surround sound system, there’s also an available Roaring Pulse soundscape, which can be downloaded via over-the-air update, and includes more “extroverted and sonorous” sounds, which is like an electric Sport+ mode.
All of these can be turned off, by the way, for that classic quality-feeling silence that Mercedes-Benzes has long done so well.
Having seen how Lexus parlayed the advent of a new level of silence to take a sizable chunk of the lower end of the luxury market, Mercedes-Benz now clearly wants to avoid doing the same with Tesla and its Model S. The EQS will not only taken on the challenge of the Model S, finally, when the EQS hits the market in the second half of 2021 – in August in the U.S. – but it also aims to bring a new definition of what all-electric luxury looks like.
We’ll see once it arrives and can be experienced in person how closely it will meet or exceed those lofty aims.