Hardware of talented EQS saloon is used to create an electric equivalent of the GLS

Mercedes-Benz steered itself into a spot of nomenclatural bother with its first full-production EVs. The EQA, EQB and EQC are all SUVs because they are electric versions of the GLA, GLB and the previous generation of the GLC. But the EQS and EQE are saloons, because Mercedes wanted to show just how aerodynamic it could make an EV. So what do you call the inevitable SUV versions?

The answer is simply Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV. A little inelegant, perhaps, but effective enough. The same could be said for the new car’s design. With its stubby bonnet and tall sides, it’s not the most dynamic-looking car, but it does offer a lot of space, and a 0.25 drag coefficient is good for big SUV.

Being an all-new model for 2023, the EQS SUV is mandated to have a speed limit warning, but unlike in Lexuses, it’s at least very easy to turn off.

We’ve previously tested Mercedes’ electric behemoth in the US, but now it has landed in the UK. As is typical with Mercedes in the UK, the range is quite a bit less expansive than it is elsewhere. All EQS SUVs get a massive battery pack with 108.4kWh of usable capacity, but while other regions have a range of motor options, only the 355bhp 450 4Matic and 536bhp EQS SUV 580 4Matic are coming here.

There’s also next to no personalisation. You can have an AMG Line Premium Plus or a Business Class, and other than a few special paints and the option of the hyperscreen, there are no options. Everything’s standard, including a third row of seats. That does inflate the price to a dizzying £129,170. A similarly optioned BMW iX xDrive50 is a good £10,000 cheaper and offers much more performance. An Audi Q8 E-tron 55 Vorsprung is a comparative snip at £101,145.

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Step inside and it’s not clear where the money has gone. Sure, the seats are supremely comfortable and the elevated driving position very SUV appropriate, but the coarse leather, plastic air vents and gloss black centre console would be a bit suspect in a £65,000 car, never mind one costing twice that.

On the plus side, the tech works brilliantly. If you’re going to go buttonless, Mercedes’ MBUX and its ‘zero-layer’ concept, where any option you’re likely to need while driving is at most one submenu away, is the way to go. The EQS SUV’s interior space is also vast, with second-row leg room for days. The bench is set quite high from the floor, avoiding the awkward knees-up seating position you get in a lot of EVs. Third-row space is as expected for a seven-seat SUV, but even with the seats in place, there’s a usable amount of boot space left.

To drive, the EQS SUV majors on refinement. There is simply no road noise, and just a bit of wind noise on the motorway. The ride on standard Airmatic air suspension is pillowy soft. Bumps simply stop existing in the EQS SUV. You can just about feel potholes, but it doesn’t get much better than this.

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And it doesn’t mean it falls over when you get to a corner, either. The suspension definitely wants setting to Dynamic to ensure control over mid-corner bumps, but there’s ample grip and even some subtle steering feel. Despite the quick rack and four-wheel steering, it feels perfectly natural too, the four-wheel steering adding agility as well as an entertainingly small turning circle. The EQS SUV doesn’t feel like a light car, but it certainly doesn’t feel like one that weighs 2730kg.

Not in the corners, at least. In a straight line, though, the performance is just about okay. Its 6.0sec to 62mph is hardly slow, but the car doesn’t give that typical EV kick in the back, whereas both the rival Audi and BMW do. Other than the lack of a one-pedal mode, the paddle-controlled regen works well, but the brake pedal feel is a problem. There’s a lot of travel and inconsistent resistance, and when you’re stopping 2.7 tonnes, you want a bit more reassurance than the Mercedes gives.

The rest of the EV equation is well conceived although not exactly groundbreaking. The EQS SUV can rapid charge at 200kW for a 10-80% top-up in 31 minutes. The 450 is rated for 366 miles of range, but the more powerful 580 gives up only a single mile. Our test car suggested a range of 290 miles, but we’ll need some more time in one to accurately gauge real-world range.

There’s no doubt the EQS SUV goes toe to toe with the BMW iX for refinement, tech and range, but given its ambitious pricing, it needs more to set it apart, especially in its interior and performance.

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