Mercedes-Benz said recently that it was going all-electric by 2030, which naturally got race fans excited about the possibilities of an electric high-performance car from the automaker’s AMG sub-brand. Today, we’re getting our first look at the upcoming AMG EQS, a wickedly fast sport sedan with a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. It made its public debut at the 2021 IAA Mobility show in Germany.
The AMG EQS is the first battery-electric production car from the automaker’s in-house performance subsidiary. As such, there’s a lot riding on Mercedes getting everything exactly right if it wants to satisfy its loyal customers while also luring new ones away from Tesla.
This is a driving machine made for “car enthusiasts,” Mercedes said — and at first glance it’s easy to see why, with its smooth lines and aerodynamic profile. The question is how car enthusiasts will react to the completely silent electric motors, or Mercedes’ attempt to fill the void left by the lack of a V8 with something called “emotive vehicle sound.” (More on that in a bit.)
The EQS, the all-electric version of the automaker’s storied S-class sedan, came out this year to rave reviews. When we tested it, we came away impressed by the powerful battery, wide range of driving modes, and the over-the-top in-car technology. Mercedes needs the AMG version of the EQS to be equally impressive if it wants to compete with Tesla, Audi, BMW and others in the luxury segment.
A quick look at the spec sheet reveals a lot to be impressed by. The sedan’s dual motors will put out 649 horsepower, with a maximum torque of 700 ft-lbs. If somehow that’s not enough acceleration, you can kick the horsepower up to 751 while using Race Start mode with boost function, which also increases the torque to 752 ft-lbs.
The 400-volt battery has a usable energy content of 107.8kWh, which is more capacity than every Tesla vehicle. Mercedes says it has reduced the cobalt content of the battery’s chemistry to 10 percent. Cobalt is the most expensive material used in batteries, so eliminating it from the mix is expected to help EVs become as affordable as those that run on gas. It has also been called the “blood diamond of batteries” because it’s been mined in a way that’s endangered child workers and wrecked the environment in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mercedes says the battery management system is also configured specifically for AMG. In the Sport and Sport+ driving modes the focus is on performance, while Comfort mode focuses on operating range. Given what we know about the EQS’ driving modes and the use of regenerative braking, that is sure to be a welcome feature when you’re in the driver seat.
And you know Mercedes is really excited to explain the AMG’s unique sound profile because it’s really high up in the press release under the subhed “AMG SOUND EXPERIENCE: emotional sound spectrum for a unique driving experience.” The whole idea is because EVs are silent, the automakers are creating their own fake sounds that match the vehicle’s acceleration, so you aren’t flying around the race track in a completely silent sports car.
Mercedes says it used “special loudspeakers, subwoofers and a sound generator to create a special sound experience in two versions: ‘Authentic’ or ‘Performance.’” The fake sounds are generated inside and outside the vehicle to match the driving status. There’s a video that includes the sound, and honestly, I’m fine with it. It’s not an engine growl, but it also doesn’t sound overly manufactured. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Volkswagen ID 4’s fake sound, but this one seems like it won’t offend too many people.
The AMG EQS is built on one of three bespoke EV architectures built by Mercedes for its new lineup of electric vehicles. This car and future electric AMG models will be built on the AMG.EA architecture, the company said.
Inside, you’ll find the Mercedes Hyperscreen, three screens embedded in a single piece of glass that extends from pillar-to-pillar. It runs on the automaker’s MBUX system, but also includes something unique to AMG:
AMG TRACK PACE, the virtual race engineer, is also available as an option: the software is part of the MBUX infotainment system and permanently records more than 80 vehicle-specific data (i.e. speed, acceleration), for example while driving on a racetrack. On top of this, lap and sector times are displayed, as well as the respective difference from a reference time. Because specific display elements are shown in green or red, the driver is able to see at a glance, without reading numbers, whether they are currently faster or slower than the best time.
Think of it like a fitness app that tracks your workout performance, but for your car. Race enthusiasts are going to find a lot to like here.
We still don’t have a production date or a suggested retail price. The 2021 EQS costs well over $100,000, so don’t expect this one to retail for anything less than $120,000. The question is whether Mercedes can get this car to customers before the release of the next-gen Tesla Roadster, which was just delayed to 2023. If they can than the AMG EQS has a real chance to steal the show.