We tested the Mercedes EQS, the electric sedan that wants to overtake Tesla

This chilly November morning, a small group of auto journalists met in the parking lot of the Champagne-Ardenne TGV station, for a test drive of Mercedes’ first 100% electric sedan: the EQS. Nearly 800 km of driving in two days through three wine regions: Champagne, Burgundy and Beaujolais, such is the program.

A push-to-crime or rather alcoholism from the German manufacturer? We reassure you, there will be no question of tasting during the day, when driving. On the other hand, by crossing three of its most famous regions, it is a question of anchoring in the electric landscape of our country, this high-end car which clearly arises as a competitor of the Tesla Model S. Because France is now the first European market for the American brand.

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A Mercedes EQS in Burgundy

And yes, the Tesla have a huge success with us. We see less of them than Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf, but they are positioned in a much more lucrative market, that of high-end (premium) cars. To say that the German constructors champions of this category do not appreciate this intrusion on the French (and European) market is an understatement.

The Mercedes Shepherd’s Response to the Tesla Shepherdess

But Tesla’s hegemony risks being transitory. European manufacturers are fighting back. The EQS is the Mercedes Shepherd’s response to the Tesla Shepherdess.

A Mercedes EQS in a wind tunnel

A Mercedes EQS in a wind tunnel

Question exterior line, the sedan that we discover in the parking lot is a success. The tapered design of this 5.2-meter-long car removes the “fat German” side that is a little heavy that the aesthetes of the cars reproach them. This line is not only aesthetic, it is even first and foremost aerodynamic. The air penetration rate – more precisely the drag coefficient known as Cx – of 0.20 is one of the lowest on the auto market (0.203 for the Tesla Model S).

Peugeot 2008: thermal or 100% electric, it’s up to you

This performance is also explained by its electrical nature. Since electric motors don’t need to be cooled, they don’t need a grille to suck cold air under the hood. Wind resistance is reduced. Electric cars are therefore, by nature, more aerodynamic than thermals. Secondly, because the EQS is a sedan, not an SUV! This type of car which has always – if we dare say it – the wind in its sails, is an aberration from an aerodynamic point of view with its high perched bodywork.

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Head-up vision and three screens

Inside, on the front seats, the EQS is very comfortable, even cozy. At the rear, however, the seat is a bit stiff. It’s annoying for a sedan, one of whose vocations is to transport passengers (taxi, car with driver, etc.).

In the driving position, we appreciate the screen above the well-designed steering wheel and above all the very readable head-up vision. For those who do not yet know, this is a technology invented for fighter pilots. It displays the main information directly on their windshield and thus allows them not to take their eyes off their target. We don’t do more secure, as the Americans say.

Youngtimers, souvenir cars

the dashboard of the Mercedes EQS

the dashboard of the Mercedes EQS

The central screen is itself, very large and you quickly take control of the various functions it offers (heating, massage, radio, routes, etc.). Finally, a third screen is available for the front passenger. This is a really good idea! It can watch a movie without disturbing the driver. All three screens form a hyper-screen (hyperscreen) on the entire dashboard. It feels like a space opera. Bluffing! As for the sound if it is of quality – it is the least of things, in a car over 120,000 euros (base price!), It is a little disappointing in the bass. Pity.

Real-time outdoor air quality information

Real-time outdoor air quality information

Zero driving, a survival manual for those who panic at the wheel

Driving side, we find the pleasure provided by electric cars, the immediate rise in power. We spare you the performance of the vehicle which is real (333 horsepower, acceleration from 0 to 100 in 6.2 s, maximum speed 210 km / h) without being breathtaking. But frankly nowadays … Better to emphasize its autonomy, a real issue for drivers.

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According to the manufacturer, it can go up to 784 km. This is obviously a view of the mind, as electricity consumption depends on the type of driving (quiet or sporty), the roads, the weather (the colder it is, the faster the batteries are discharged), the wind etc. But it gives an idea. It is for example double that of a Zoé and equivalent to that of a Model S.

Mercedes EQS being charged on a motorway rest area

Mercedes EQS being charged on a motorway rest area

During our journey, we took the motorway towards Dijon and, caught up in the news on Franceinfo, we missed the exit. Half an hour on the road more… Without warning us, the car then changed the route of the GPS to take us… to a motorway rest area to recharge the batteries!

Civilized machines

Provident in our place, she calculated that the next day, given the planned route, we would be “dry”! In front of the Ionity terminal, between the relief of avoiding a bad experience (running out of fuel) and the embarrassment of being deprived of one’s freedom, the impression is mixed. Perhaps it is a question of adjustment… After a quarter of an hour of recharging, we set out again in the Burgundian night.

The human-machine exchange via the “Hey Mercedes” device (the keywords for speaking orally to the artificial intelligence of the vehicle) is, on the other hand, less disturbing. You say, “Hey Mercedes, I’m too hot,” the car suggests you lower the temperature. She does not take the initiative herself!

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Finally, during a previous test on another Mercedes, you almost had to scream to be obeyed. The exchange today is more calm, as are the reactions of active driving aids. The first Mercedes equipped with this type of AI were a bit brutal. Machines in short have become civilized. Good news ?

Mercedes EQS 450 +, AMG Line finishing line, from 127,500 euros.

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