Mercedes EQS 450+ & EQB 350

Silent Mercs

The first all-electric Mercedes-Benz luxury saloon is the S-Class of electric cars and promises a range of more than 780km. I took the current flagship from it’s birthplace to Germany’s capital city. The distance between Stuttgart and Berlin is 633.6 km. Did I manage to make the trip with just one battery charge? After handing back the EQS, I got hold of the fully electric EQB 350 SUV and took it on a mountain pass tour through the Swiss and Italian Alps.


I have driven several electric cars in the last couple of months. I even road-tripped an Audi e-tron Sportback 1500km into the Karoo. All had one thing in common. The range anxiety was omnipresent. So I was very keen to experience the new Mercedes EQS in Germany. Not only promising a range of more than 780 kilometres, but also benefitting from the 300 000 charging points in Europe, all of them included in the Merc’s intelligent navigation system.

I picked up the Benz in Stuttgart, at my favourite hotel, luckily still named after a gorgeous internal combustion engine, the V8. In order to fully enjoy the electric intelligence of my digital ride, I downloaded the ‘Mercedes me’ app. Now, I was in contact with my ride via Iphone. I could even program the route guidance from my hotel room, or check the charge from my smartphone screen. The new navi calculates the best and most efficient route, including charging stops. And should your driving style change, the system adapts and adds additional charging stops.

The EQS can be loaded with up to 200kW at fast charging stations, with direct current (DC). Most of the ones I encountered along the autobahn were 300kW chargers, so no problem there. Depending on the outside temperature the charging power can be slightly less than claimed. But power for another 300km is always easily recharged in just 15 minutes. Which equals a rest stop.

There are charging points, where you tap your Mercedes ‘Me Charge’ card onto the display screen, and there is ‘plug and charge’, when you just open the flap, plug in and the current starts flowing. The intelligent navigation always tries to lead you to those Ionity fast chargers, as they are delivering power derived from green energy. And it tells you, whether there is an empty bay available.

The EQS features a new generation of batteries, with significantly higher energy density. So with an average consumption of 19.6 kW/100km, you can reach those 700km-plus with only one charge.

Hence my idea of taking the EQS 450+ from its birthplace to Germany’s capitol city. According to the navi the distance between the V8 Hotel in Stuttgart and Berlin’s coolest place to stay: the Bikini, is 633.6 kilometres. So that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Even if I would go a little bit faster. As with all EVs speed is reducing the available power. So the German autobahn, with no speed limit, is an absolute range killer. It’s like a steakhouse for Vegans.

I promise, I tried. But after having been denied legal high speeds for a couple of years now, I couldn’t resist. The EQS’s speed is electronically limited to 216km/h. And that’s what I did. By the way, I was still an obstacle and had to frequently make room for faster candidates, roaring past me in the left lane.

And the system kept warning me: ‘Keep your speed under 150km/h to avoid additional charging stops’. I decided to coincide the additional charging stop with a lekker German lunch. And after about 40 minutes, both EQS and myself, were fully charged again.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+

ENGINE

rear axle electric motor

POWER

245kW and 568Nm

TOP SPEED

210 km/h

Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC

ENGINE

one electric motor in front, one in the rear

POWER

215kW and 520Nm

TOP SPEED

160 km/h

And the ride quality? The air suspension is extremely comfortable, as are the seats. Initially I was worried about the dense traffic and narrow city streets in Berlin. The mighty EQS is 5.21m long, riding on 21inch wheels, but all-wheel steering, with a rear axle steering angle up to 10°, and park assist made it surprisingly easy to handle in town, despite not being a city car.

The Mercedes EQ range is for the first time on a new platform, not previously used with internal combustion engines. It’s a modular design, an architecture for luxury and executive class electric vehicles with cab-forward design.

First thing you notice is the different shape, not immediately recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz. The new design is a benchmark in aerodynamics, actually at the moment the EQS is the most aerodynamic production car in the world. Making it very quiet, with a very low wind noise.

The recuperation is excellent. On max it allows deceleration to a standstill without using the brake pedal at all. The electric power train of my ‘base’ model EQS 450+ has an electric power train (eATS) at the rear axle, while the 4MATIC version has another one in front.

The alternative to the 450 is the EQS 580 4MATIC with an incredible 385kW & 855Nm. I mean the 450+ is not a slow car. But Mercedes is taken it even further: an electric AMG performance version with 560kW is coming as well.

And herewith some good news for V8 aficionados. The famous AMG powerplant is not dying yet. Mercedes had a change of mind. A sort of exit from the exit. ‘Ambition 2030’ was supposed to see only electric cars being produced from that year onwards. Then the inventor of the automobile added ‘wherever possible’.

Meaning that Mercedes-Benz is not retiring the V8. It will still have a future in high-performance AMG models. ‘If customers want the V8, why should we discontinue it? They will still get it. Even after 2030’.

TECH SPECS

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

rear axle electric motor

Power

245kW and 568Nm

Top Speed

210 km/h

0-100km/h

in 6.2 seconds

Weight

2480kg

Battery capacity

107.8 kWh

Range

782km (claimed)

Price

R2 615 700

TECH SPECS

Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC

Engine

3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK

Engine

one electric motor in front, one in the rear

Power

215kW and 520Nm

Top Speed

160 km/h

0-100km/h

in 6.2 seconds

Weight

2580kg

Battery capacity

66 kWh

Range

423km (claimed)

Price

from R1 374 500

Time for a change of scenery – and vehicle. To be honest I wasn’t really sure how a fully electric compact SUV would perform on some of the most stunning mountain roads in the world. The last time I did a similar curves trip in a Merc was a couple of years ago. My ride then: the SL 63 AMG.

But man, did this EQB surprise me. By now everyone knows, that electric cars are agile. But on those narrow, windy roads the low centre of gravity, the instant torque and the 4matic made this a proper mountaineer. Some of the sportscar drivers and motor bike riders couldn’t believe their eyes, when I silently flew past them in those hairpin turns. And while going up passes like this, with battery quickly depleting, the recuperation starts on the long way down, during coasting and braking. Latter is only necessary in very tight turns.

Like with all Mercedes EQs electric intelligence finds charging points along the route, even in tiny Alpine villages. And the high voltage battery is brought to an optimal charging temperature before a planned charging stop. The EQB’s battery is 66kWh and can be charged with up to 100kW. So yes, with a realistic range of about 370 kilometres, the anxiety is back after having spent time with the long-range EQS. But 30 minutes from 10 back to 80%, or 15 minutes for 150km/h is really not that bad. Especially with charging stations everywhere. As well as great views and restaurants. While having an excellent lunch on top of the king of mountain passes, Passo de Stelvio, we even loaded up with hydro-generated green electricity at the highest charging point in Europe.

Another highlight is Furka Pass of 007 fame. Remember the famous car chase in the silver Aston Martin DB5 and the white Mustang convertible? If not, watch it on Youtube. The road looks pretty much the same as in 1964, including the famous picture-perfect Hotel Belvedere in the hairpin. It’s unfortunately closed for years now. And apparently haunted. By the way, a sudden cold front, passing through the day before, resulted in Furka Pass being closed. Our intelligent live navi also said closed, but with 4Motion confidence, we tried anyway. And just as we reached the top of the pass, the snow had melted enough to let us through.

And on the other side, the sun peaked out again. Parked in this magnificent mountain scenery the EQB doesn’t look as exciting as the EQS. But it also features the continuous light strip at the front and rear and the Mercedes EQ black panel grille with central star. This car is a true sleeper. Nobody expects performance like this, when looking at it.

In famous St. Moritz we decided to sleep on top of a 2456m high mountain. We left the Merc at the bottom and took the cog railway up. The reward were endless views, due to a in the meantime cloudless sky. The disadvantage were below freezing temperatures during the night. When we returned to the car the next morning, it had turned into a proper frozen edition. Even the star on the bonnet was covered in ice. And the battery? Another surprise, not a single % battery charge lost. It must be very well insulated.

After a couple of famous mountain passes, such as Albula, Julier, Gotthard and Umbrail we kept the best for last. So far I had only heard about this one. And seen some enticing pics of the unlit and unpaved tunnel on top. Kunkels Pass might only be 1357m high, but it is a true adrenaline ride. When the Rhine valley below used to be impassable due to flooding, the Romans already utilized this route over the mountain. The one-lane tunnel was added during the First World War. Though the entry process is digital. At the bottom of the pass, we scanned the code at the prohibition sign and paid the toll online. With the virtual permit and after a hearty lunch at the cosy pass restaurant, we finally entered the tunnel. Definitely the highlight our mountain trip. As feared we encountered some mountain bikers inside. And they barely made it past the Merc. So cool, we decided to come back soon. Maybe with a V8? Imagine this tunnel in a non-silent way.

LossKARn recommends

The coolest hotel in Stuttgart is the motoring themed V8 Hotel, whose lobby is stretching into the Motorworld. Best choice: the Germany room with the old Mercedes S-Class bed. If booked out: Off Road with the Jeep, or Barnyard with the Alfa.

In Berlin the hippest place to stay is Hotel Bikini. Choose one of the jungle rooms, with a view of the huge Berlin zoo from your hammock in the window.

And in the Swiss Alps you can’t beat the Matterhorn Focus Design Hotel, the coolest place to stay in Zermatt, with a view of the iconic Matterhorn peak of Toblerone fame, from the bed and free-standing bath. Stunning architecture and great food.

V8 Hotel Stuttgart: www.v8hotel.de

Hotel Bikini Berlin: www.25hours-hotels.com

Matterhorn Focus Design Hotel: www.matterhorn-focus.ch

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