The Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 4MATIC is the ‘big daddy’ of the electric range – it is big, feels big and it packs a hefty wallop with 265 kW and 800 Nm from its 108,4 kWh battery pack but, it does not drive ‘big’ and can easily be sneaked in and out of parking spaces and gaps in the traffic.

This SUV offers ample space, comfort, and connectivity for up to seven passengers in its luxurious and artfully designed interior.

The EQS Saloon holds the title of the most aerodynamically efficient production car, a feature that influenced the design of the EQS SUV. With a smooth underbody and typically closed radiator shutter, the SUV combines spaciousness with aerodynamic efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 front view

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Unquestionably, aerodynamics plays a major role in the performance and longevity of the battery charge and, punching a hole in the air with a vehicle that weighs five tons and is five metres long requires more than a modicum of effort.

Mercedes-Benz claim a range of more than 600 kilometres on a fully charged battery pack but reality put this around the 500-kilometre mark. During the test involving our usual route of mixed road types and conditions from country to urban to city, motorway and an additional longer run on top of the daily use, the range indicator remained well within the comfort zone –doing away with range anxiety.

True, you still cannot get to Durban from Johannesburg on a single charge but the daily and general weekend kind of use means a once-a-week ‘fill up’ – no different to your petrol or diesel car.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 interior view

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Inside, the EQS SUV offers an opulent experience with a fully digitised environment, including a screen that stretches the full width of the dash and allows the passenger complete access to the operating screen, apps and settings.

It also comes with an ambient lighting structure that can be a single colour or an ever-changing array of hues and this lighting strip includes the chrome air vents.

For me, personally, two problems. The first is the highly reflective glass screen on the passenger side generated ill-timed blinding light bursts when the angle of the car reflected the sunlight directly into my eyes. The second is in my seating position, the ambient light – which is adjustable – produced perfect reflections of the air vents in the outside mirrors, interfering with rearward vision.

I must stress, this was in my seating position.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 rear three quarterHowever, the MBUX system, powered by intelligent software, provides personalised suggestions for entertainment, comfort, and vehicle functions, adapting to individual user preferences. The second generation of the MBUX operating system in the EQS SUV includes adaptive software that customises the display and operation based on user behaviour, eliminating the need for navigating through submenus.

The ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant in the EQS SUV has been significantly enhanced, capable of performing tasks without the activation keyword and explaining vehicle functions. It can now control smart home devices and recognise occupants by their voices, allowing access to personal data and functions through voice-activated profiles. Almost getting creepy here!

Rear passengers also enjoy the same infotainment and comfort features as those in the front, with access to rear-seat screens, a tablet, and intuitive controls.

And, talking of the rear, the electrically adjustable second row of seats expands the luggage compartment from 645 litres to 880 litres, accommodating up to 24 crates of mineral water or four golf bags with five occupants.

Folding down the second row increases the capacity to 2 100 litres.

Acceleration from rest to 100 km/h takes six seconds and it has a top speed of 210 km/h, meaning it is no slouch on the road and compares favourably with price competitors such as the Audi RSQ8 quattro and Land Rover Range Rover Sport P460e Autobiography – the EQS coming in at R2 855 951.

Related: Read about the hybridised Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 sunset view on the road

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The EQS is available with the Mercedes-Benz in-house Agility finance package that provides buyers with a guaranteed Future Value and rewards with interest rate reductions for regular on-time payments.

The EQS provides a pleasing on-road experience – the SUV stance and raised seating position offer an excellent view of the road (or lack thereof) ahead while ample space in the rear means adults can be transported in comfort. Read about living with the Mercedes-Benz EQA to get a sense of comparison and perspective.

As is the case with all electric vehicles, response to throttle input is instantaneous and the EQS leaves plenty of hot hatch robot drag racers hitting the phone speed dial button to their favourite engine tuner to find out what has gone with their pocket rocket.

The all-wheel drive system provides a large added measure of safety in inclement weather and it does have an offroad ability that will allow users to get well of the beaten track on reasonable dirt surfaces.

Mercedes-Benz EQS 450 with windfarm in the backgroundWhile capable within all normal user limits, the EQS does handle like the big car it is and sudden, harsh directional changes will unsettle things a tad for those in the cabin even though the vehicle will endure quite a bit more misuse before it cries enough and comes unglued from the road.

The EQS SUV also features advanced energy recovery options through regeneration, allowing drivers to select deceleration levels via paddle shifters. The D Auto recuperation level, managed by the ECO Assistant, optimises energy recovery and efficiency, enabling one-pedal driving by decelerating the vehicle as needed without requiring the brake pedal.

A word of warning though – this does take some practice and (like autonomous braking when on cruise control) should never, ever replace proper vigilance and being ready to apply the brakes when required.

In moving the process of vehicle electrification forward, the EQS makes a strong statement regarding range and usage application – all that now just needs to move into vehicles with more appropriate pricing.

Colin Windell