This could easily have been a disaster. Attempts to transform rolling sofas and isolation tanks into sport sedans often result in fish-nor-fowl platypuses—like a few Lexus F-Sport models we can think of. And in this case, AMG is starting with a 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS. That full-size luxury electric sedan struck most judges at the 2022 Car of the Year proceedings as extremely cushy, quiet, isolated, pillowy, and luxurious—markedly more so than its conventionally powered cousin, the S-Class. Further complicating matters, this is AMG’s first swing at modifying an electric vehicle (not counting those nine electric SLS gullwing supercars it built in 2013). We legitimately worried the 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 4Matic+ would drive like a hippo in grippy track shoes.
AMG Powertrain Enhancements
First thing to know: Each of those technicians who build and autograph an AMG combustion engine won’t be doing so with the EQS motors, but AMG’s performance upgrades are meaningful. Both front and rear motors get new windings capable of carrying more current, with the rear incorporating two separate three-phase windings. That ensures that torque is naturally biased to the rear whenever the driver requests full power, as befits an AMG product. AMG upgrades also allow the motors to spin faster to generate more power.
Coping with that extra power required an upgraded cooling system that includes “water lances” inside the rotor shafts, additional ribs on the stators, and cooling pins on the inverter (which employs high-performance ceramics to handle the increased power). Standard combined output jumps from the EQS 580’s 516 hp and 631 lb-ft to 649 hp and 700 lb-ft, and engaging the Race Start function (included in the standard AMG Dynamic Plus package) increases those figures to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft for brief periods. This mode is said to deliver a 3.4-second run to 60 mph (well down from the 3.7 seconds we’ve measured in the EQS 580).
The single-speed gear reduction units get a slightly taller (undisclosed) ratio, which gives the AMG EQS a higher 155-mph top speed (the EQS 450 and EQS 580 are limited to 130 mph). Torque is apportioned via the AMG-programmed (and, well, virtual) 4Matic+ system, which measures and fine-tunes the front/rear power balance 10,000 times per second. Rear torque bias is increased in Sport and Sport+ modes. When cruising in Comfort mode the rear drive unit disconnects, idling the rear motor when cruising under light loads to conserve energy.
Speaking of energy, the AMG EQS carries 108 usable kilowatt-hours of it onboard—same as in the other EQS models—but the AMG pack gets a unique wiring setup and a different battery management system tailored to permit faster discharge and recharge cycles. This allows it to accept up to 300 kW of regenerative braking energy (up from 290 in the EQS 580).
AMG Chassis Spiffs
No mere software tuning job, this—the entire AMG Ride Control+ suspension system is sourced from a different vendor than the base EQS Airmatic system. The routing of the air lines and valves are considerably different, as are the bushings. This is an AMG suspension, plain and simple, and it’s derived from the one underpinning the AMG GT 4-Door.
The air springs lower the body 0.8 inch at speed. The rear subframe and motor mounts, rear control arms and knuckles are AMG-specific. As in the AMG GT 4-Door, the dampers utilize separate jounce and rebound pressure-relief valves to better fine-tune ride and handling, and they generally widen the range between minimum and maximum damping characteristics, allowing both greater comfort and improved dynamics.
Front brakes get six-piston calipers (up from four) and an optional carbon-ceramic brake package increases front brake rotor diameter from 15.4 to 17.3 inches. Steering-wheel paddles allow tailoring of the regenerative braking level to one of three settings, with the highest one good for 0.3 g of retardation. With so much regenerative braking available, we wonder what sort of buyer expects to need carbon brakes?
AMG EQS models retain the base car’s questionable tactic of moving the brake pedal to reflect the degree of regenerative braking underway, but the haptic feedback and feel of the i-Booster brake pedal has been entirely re-tuned by AMG.
Standard rear axle steering affords the same maximum 9-degree steering angle (and compact-car turning circle) as on other EQS models, but with slightly revised tuning during higher speed maneuvers. Finally, where the rubber meets the road, there are three designs of 21- or 22-inch wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Sport EV tires, sized 275/40R21 or 275/35R22.
So How Does the 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 4Matic+ Drive?
Vastly better than the EQS 580. The ride is so much better controlled. It wallows less in Comfort mode with no overt harshness. And the brake pedal feels like it might be directly connected to, you know, calipers, pads, and rotors—even if it isn’t. And while you can see the pedal move a bit when you lift off the accelerator with max regen selected, the entire system is firmed up enough that we never noticed the pedal to be in a different or unexpected position, as we did in the EQS 580. One unusual choice we’d encourage AMG to rethink: the EQS 4Matic+ won’t regen-brake itself to a stop as with most other EV one-pedal modes. Creep torque is ever present.
One other note about the regenerative braking modes: With minimum regen selected, the car uses the friction brakes considerably more. In this mode it pretty much works like a Tesla—if you’re pressing the brake pedal, you’re actuating friction brakes. In higher regen modes, initial pressure on the pedal maxes out the regen before engaging the friction brakes, though the pedal feel is expertly managed. So the higher regen modes will increase range.
Switching to Sport or Sport+ mode firms both the ride and roll-control up incrementally, with the latter feeling brittle enough to encourage use of the Individual mode with everything dialed to full sporty except the suspension. Accelerator response gets quicker in the sport modes but always remains predictable and perfectly linear. These modes also ramp up the “AMG Sound Experience,” which can be adjusted to one of two sound profiles (authentic or performance) and then set to one of three intensity levels (balanced, sport, or powerful). They’re all more fun than silently whooshing up to speed accompanied by nothing but gear whine and wind noise.
Our drive took us up into the San Jacinto mountains during a rare mist and fog event. The level of damp-road grip impressed us, as did the amount of driving fun we experienced in this nearly three-ton car. The steering provides little or no road feel per se, but it points the car accurately, the acceleration is exhilarating, and the brakes are vintage AMG. Oh, and the Slippery drive mode really slows down the accelerator response.
How’s the AMG EQS Cabin?
Convincingly sporty, thanks to upgrades like suede-look materials on the dash top and doors, an AMG steering wheel with perforated Nappa leather grips and a flat bottom, well-bolstered seats (that still offer great massage programs), and a signature wall-to-wall Hyperscreen reprogrammed to offer sportier displays. There are several options of instrument cluster views optimized for communicating information like instantaneous power, torque, efficiency, tire temperatures and pressures, etc., and the central display presents the typical AMG Performance and Track Pace screens. They’re perfect for when you take your $149,000 5,900-pound sedan out bracket racing or to your car-country-club track.
How Does the AMG EQS’ Range and Efficiency Compare?
The AMG team is quick to point out that the AMG Line upgrades to the base EQS achieve the model’s lowest drag coefficient, 0.20. The AMG EQS model’s front splitter, side sill panels, and larger rear spoiler all help reduce lift but along with the wider tires serve to increase drag to 0.23. This, combined with the powertrain and gearing changes results in a projected drop in range of about a third—from 350 and 340 miles for the rear-drive EQS 450 and AWD EQS 580 to 227 miles. For comparison, the sportiest Lucid Air Dream Edition P can do 471 miles, while Tesla’s top-performing Model S Plaid can manage 348 miles.
How Does the AMG EQS Stack Up Against Tesla, Lucid?
Simple physics dictate that a heavy 751-hp car will never keep pace with a lighter 1,020-hp Tesla Model S Plaid or 1,111-hp Lucid Air Dream Edition P. And while the AMG EQS demonstrates impressive hustle in the twisties, it lacks the feeling of nimbleness the Lucid achieves in part with its lower seating position and cowl and its aerier greenhouse.
This EQS 4Matic+ is an electric option aimed squarely at the AMG sport sedan faithful. As such, it’s meant to feel big, heavy, substantial, and mighty, in ways those Californians never will. It should suit this crowd to a T. It’s no hippo in track shoes. It’s more of a blue wildebeest chasing the quarter horses from Tesla and Lucid.
When and How Much?
Sales will start early in 2022, with a starting price said to be “less than $150,000,” equipped with MB-Tex seat upholstery. Options will drive that further up—The U.S. will get a single specification, though in global markets the same car will be badged Mercedes-AMG EQS 53. Might this suggest future models like a rear-drive 43 model, or possibly a future 63 model with more powerful axial-flux motors sourced from recently acquired YASA motors? That could be the Cheetah—okay, maybe elephant—that catches the Californians.
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