Warp Speed, Mr. Aufrecht: The 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS
I pulled up to the on-ramp to U.S. 50 east of Sacramento in mid-morning, checking the mirror to make sure no one was behind me.
I came to a complete stop at the metering lights, even though they were not on. I checked to ensure that there were no cars approaching on the freeway within a quarter-mile and none ahead for the same distance.
I floored it.
I picked the wrong week to give up involuntarily blurting out four-letter words.
I only went to 60 miles per hour---five miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
But it only took three seconds to do so.
If you've never done that before in an electric vehicle, it's a bit of a shock. Even in insanely powerful gasoline-powered muscle cars, there's a process to a standing start. Revs build, the tires search for traction, the wheels themselves must overcome inertia---there are a few fractions of a second where you can sense the very beginning of motion. It's not like that in the Mercedes-AMG EQS. Or not so you can sense it anyway. One second you're standing still, the next you're flying and two seconds after that, you're going a literal mile a minute. If you keep your foot in it for four and a half seconds more, you're going 100 miles per hour.
In any electric vehicle, when you mat the pedal, you're essentially flipping a switch that tells the electric motor "I want it all right now", and it delivers. In lesser-powered electrics, it's quick, but there's still inertia and the weight of the vehicle to overcome. In some cases, the energy from that electric motor has to be sent through a driveshaft to wheels not directly connected to the motor. But the Mercedes-AMG EQS has two electric motors, one front, one rear, and between them, they make 751 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque. That's the type of power that laughs at fundamental laws of physics. The Mercedes-AMG EQS is what happens when the folks who last year introduced the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which has 516 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque and can hit 60 from a standing start in 3.6 seconds, ask "how can it be better?" and AMG responds with a 4MATIC+ variable all-wheel drive system, 9-degree rear axle steering, some AMG styling tweaks and...oh, yeah, an additional 235 horsepower and 121 lb-ft of torque.
But the incredible thing is not so much that the Mercedes-AMG EQS exists. It's that the Mercedes-AMG EQS shows restraint. It competes with the Tesla Model S Plaid, which has 1,020 horsepower and knocks off 0-60 runs in 1.99 seconds (manufacturer estimates), the Lucid Air Dream Edition, with 1,111 horsepower, which does it in 2.5 (the Lucid is 500 pounds heavier than the Tesla), and the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, with 750 horsepower, which needs 2.6. In electrics, how fast you can go and how far you can go are sometimes (though not always) at odds. The Mercedes-AMG EQS has an EPA-estimated range per charge of 277 miles. That compares with the Tesla Model S Plaid's 280, the Porsche Taycan Turbo S's 192 and the Lucid Air Dream Edition's segment-busting 500 (the exception to the rule, which manages it in part with a much bigger battery).
Beyond all that, the basics are very much like those of the Mercedes-Benz EQS. But "all that" doesn't come cheap. The base price of the lowest trim level of the Mercedes-Benz EQS is $103,360 (including destination). The Mercedes-AMG EQS begins at $148,550.
You get a lot for that money besides the AMG additions, of course---navigation, multi-contour seats with massage, heated and ventilated power front seats with memory, heated steering wheel and windshield, 64-color ambient lighting, a Burmester 3D surround sound audio system, wireless charging and more.
Our test vehicle had extra-cost options, including $3,250 for the MANUFAKTUR Selenite Grey Magno paint, $5,450 for the AMG carbon ceramic braking system, $250 for a 110-volt emergency-use charging cable, $450 for Energizing Air Control Plus with HEPA filter, $1,850 for 22-inch AMG multispoke black turbine wheels, $200 for a dash cam, $250 for the AMG Track Pace app, and $1,010 for laminated safety glass with infrared protection. Our car also had credits for items that would have been standard, but weren't outfitted because of supply-chain issues: $1,330 refunded for missing heated rear seats, heated windshield and heated windshield washer system, and $50 back for missing standard valet/beginner driving mode (a good thing to have in a 751-horsepower missile). All that works out to an as-tested price of $159,880 and I'm just gonna say that for that price, Mercedes could probably eat the $250 and make the 110-volt emergency charging cable standard like most EVs. I'll also acknowledge that charging for it won't cost them a single customer.
Bottom line---the Mercedes-AMG EQS is a stunner. Even though I had the Benz version a year ago, this one started a lot more conversations, attracted a lot more admiring glances and prompted more than one co-worker to start musing potential six-figure side hustles. It's electrifying in more ways than one.