Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz South Africa introduced its electric EQ brand in South Africa and it unveiled four models to the public at the Festival of Motoring in August.

The naming convention on its electric vehicle (EV) range matches its internal combustion engine counterparts and included the sports SUV EQA, a family SUV EQB, a mid-size luxury EQC and a luxury saloon EQS.

The global semiconductor shortage has impacted availability of Mercedes vehicles and shifted delivery timelines. Mark Raine, co-chief executive of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, says order intake and interest across its EV range is great — sold out on pre-orders for six months — but delivery is a challenge because it does not have cars available.

Its most popular EV, the EQA, based on pre-orders and a R1.17-million starting price, has already been delivered to customers. And as of December, the EQS and EQB will be making its way to customers.

Raine told the Mail & Guardian that Mercedes-Benz was operating in a challenging environment, facing continuous supply disruptions, a logistics crisis, load-shedding, chip shortages as well as inflation and interest rates hikes.

Despite this, he said that sales across the brand were up 28% from the previous year. “Our goal is to get cars into the market, which we’ve been struggling with at the moment.”

Raine said the EQE business saloon will launch locally in January 2023, followed by SUV variants for the EQE and EQS in the middle of the year. The G-Class equivalent EQG is earmarked for a 2024 launch.

The M&G had an opportunity to test drive the luxurious EQS for a quick 30 minutes around Sandton recently, a rival to BMW’s i7. The EQS 450+ is currently the only model on offer, however the performance model AMG EQS 53 4Matic+ will arrive in 2023.

Last month, the company announced it would launch a digital subscription service feature in the US first that will accelerate its EVs. The feature is called “acceleration increase”. Putting features of an EV behind a paywall is not new; BMW and Volkswagen have also taken that route.

According to the company’s online store in the US, for $1 200 per year, excluding tax, customers can increase the torque and maximum output on their EVs, through a “noticeable improvement in acceleration”.

It increases the maximum output by 20% to 24%, depending on the original output from the factory.

Raine said it would bring the recently announced acceleration increase feature on its EVs to South Africa “ASAP”. It will launch with the performance model AMG EQS 53.

Introducing the EQS 450+

The EQS 450+ is a luxury limousine with a core focus on technology, design, functionality and connectivity aimed at both drivers and passengers. It has a digitised interior with a striking textured design that incorporates the MBUX infotainment system into the dashboard.

It comes standard with a 12.3-inch digital driver display, and a central 12.8-inch OLED screen that acts as the control panel for the vehicle. Here you can access EV settings, navigation, apps, media, Mercedes me store, car settings, general info and smartphone integration.

But for an extra R155 000, you can get the MBUX Hyperscreen that runs all the way across the dashboard from driver to passenger side. It will come standard on the EQS 53, and houses three screens blended under one glass panel, including two OLEDs and a fingerprint scanner.

The digital driver display behind the steering wheel is customisable and supports a range of themes, depending on what you’re in the mood for, such as classic, sport, assistance, navigation, service and understated.

When I got into the EQS 450+ for the first time, I couldn’t help but notice the high-quality interiors, textures and futuristic design. It has a panoramic roof, loads of legroom in the front and back and plenty of storage compartments.

For Mercedes customers, the switch to its EV counterpart should feel seamless as the driver controls are still on the stalk behind the steering wheel, like all its vehicles.

The paddle shifters let you easily toggle the level of regeneration when you brake, supporting three modes: normal, strong or no recuperation. The layout and access to driver controls means you don’t really have to take your hands off the wheel unnecessarily and dig deep into menus.

The EQS 450+ has an electric powertrain on the rear, with a total output of 245kW and 568Nm of torque. It can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds and has an electronically capped top speed of 210km/h. It is powered by a 107.8kWh battery – the same as BMW’s i7 limo – and promises up to 782km of range (WLTP figures).

My drive was a quick 30-minute stint, including a stop for photos. It was right in the middle of stage 5 load-shedding, thus traffic all over Sandton. The drive included a brief leg on the M1 from Grayston to Marlboro but due to traffic, I couldn’t get a proper feel on the highway.

The car is extremely powerful from the bits I experienced at take-off. Driving modes include eco, comfort, sport and individual, which can be accessed through shortcuts beneath the infotainment screen.

You can go into the EQ interface from the shortcut to see charging info, range and consumption in real time. The gamified visuals look great on the OLED display, which can be addictive to keep on and ultimately, make you want to drive more efficiently.

A great addition to the on-board navigation is the augmented reality overlays you experience when you’re at a traffic light, just like BMW’s offering. A huge camera view appears over the maps so you can see what’s in front of you in high-resolution and see exactly where to turn.

The EQS features the company’s next-generation batteries with higher energy density and reduced cobalt, supports 200kW fast-charging and improved battery management software that allows for over-the-air updates.

The EQS 450+ costs R2 615 700 and includes a five year/100 000km maintenance plan, and a 10-year battery warranty. The top of the range EQS 53, available in 2023, will cost R3 410 100.

Published here: https://mg.co.za/motoring/2022-12-20-30-minutes-in-the-mercedes-benz-eqs-450/