Mercedes-Benz will launch its most ambitious electric model to date in the EQS flagship saloon – and it’s planning an AMG version that will challenge the performance car establishment with a dual-motor drivetrain making more than 600bhp and form the basis of a series of new hot zero-emissions models.
The S-Class-sized limousine, which is due to arrive in the UK in standard form in early 2022, is the first EQ model to be based on the German manufacturer’s scalable electric vehicle architecture (EVA). This skateboard-style structure, says Mercedes, will allow the EQS to offer unparalleled levels of accommodation and luxury in the electric car ranks, thanks to its flat floor and clever battery packaging.
Previewed by the Vision EQS concept first shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, the EQS is planned to take on the next-generation Jaguar XJ, which is also at an advanced stage of development and due to reach showrooms next year. Other rivals include the Tesla Model S and the Porsche Taycan, as well as a number of new luxury cars currently being developed by electric vehicle start-up companies, including the Lucid Air and Xpeng P7.
The EQS spearheads an ‘Electric First’ strategy that Mercedes research and development boss Markus Schäfer says will result in up to 50% of the firm’s sales coming from both electric and hybrid models by 2030, up from a projected 9% this year.
“We want to change the way we build cars,” said Schäfer in reference to the EVA platform. “The focus is on electric drivetrains.”
The EQS, known internally under the codename V297, will be Mercedes’ fifth dedicated EQ model. It follows the EQC, an SUV that has been on sale since last summer; the EQV, a van-based people carrier that’s due on sale in the coming weeks; and the EQA and EQB compact SUVs. It’s the eighth electric model to wear the EQ badge: the Smart EQ Fortwo, EQ Fortwo Cabrio and EQ Forfour also officially belong to the sub-brand.
The flagship EQ model will be distinguished from existing high-end Mercedes cars by its unique short-bonnet proportions and monolithic body devoid of any feature lines. It will be sold alongside the more traditional seventh-generation S-Class, which is set to be revealed towards the end of the year before the start of UK sales next year.
Key among the EQS’s exterior styling elements is a black panel grille. Set to be offered as an option, this will feature a three-pointed star similar to that showcased on the Vision EQS, giving the new models what Mercedes’ designers describe as “an all-new face”. It is to be bookended by triangular headlights featuring optional digital light technology.