Mercedes-Benz is arriving fashionably late to the electric vehicle party. Its German counterparts have been here for awhile, and Mercedes was supposed to arrive with the EQC in 2019, but the brand thought that model was underdressed and ultimately canceled it in the U.S. Now, Mercedes’ first electric car is arriving in style with the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS full-size sedan.

The EQS is set to be a rolling technological tour de force, with an interior set to shame the Tesla Model S into mainstream status while possibly setting a new benchmark by which vehicle interiors will be judged. It just might become the template of luxury cars for a generation.

Mercedes-Benz released more information on the EQS on Thursday, and we saw it in person in Hollywood to see if it lives up to its primary mission as the S-Class of electric vehicles.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Teaser for 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS debuting on April 15, 2021

Teaser for 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS debuting on April 15, 2021

The EQS will be powered by a modular, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack running on a 400-volt architecture. This 108-kwh battery pack is already in production in Germany. Mercedes-Benz said the EQS will have a range of up to 770 kilometers (just under 478 miles) on the European WLTP testing cycle. That should translate to an EPA range rating of more than 400 miles.

Mercedes will offer its big luxury EV in the rear-wheel-drive EQS 450+ model or a dual-motor (front and rear) version with all-wheel drive called the EQS 580 4Matic. Mercedes said output for the 450+ model is 328 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, while the 580 4Matic model will make 516 hp and 611 lb-ft of torque. A more powerful performance version with up to 630 hp is in the cards. The top speed for the launch models will be limited to 130 mph. The EQS will also come with three levels of regenerative braking chosen via shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Rear-wheel steering that can turn the rear wheels up to 4.5 degrees will come standard, and a version that can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees will be an option that can be ordered or activated via an OTA update. The system reduces the turning circle to 35.7 feet for a car that is over 16-feet long.

EQS hatchbacks will be capable of DC fast-charging rates of up to 200 kw that will allow it to gain about 150 miles of charge in 15 minutes. The optional on-board charger will have up to 9.6 kw of charging capacity, though Mercedes-Benz hasn't stated the standard charger's rate yet.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

More luxurious Model S

The EQS Mercedes made available was an Edition One, a limited-edition model that will arrive alongside the standard models this fall. A total of 300 units will be made available in the U.S., 250 of which will wear the twilight blue paint color which is exclusive to the Edition One for the first model year. It will come in both EQS 450+ and EQS 580 4Matic models. The other 50 will come in a two-tone paint scheme and will only be offered as EQS 580 4Matic models. The Edition One models also get rose gold trim pieces inside, gray seats, a blue upper dashboard, and some small Edition One badges in front of the side mirrors.

Our biggest question about seeing the EQS in person was: does it look as awkward in person as in photos? Yes it does, mostly due to the teardrop shape that it employs, which looks strange to the eyes but makes the EQS incredibly slippery. It has a 0.20 coefficient of drag, which is the lowest of any production car ever made. Mercedes designers noted that the design process started with that figure in mind and achieving it required this final shape, further evidence that it’s hard to make a car that’s both super aerodynamic and beautiful (see: Prius, Toyota). 

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes makes up for the shape by paying close attention to the EQS’ styling details. The taillights feature cool helical LED elements, the solid front grille has small Mercedes’ star logos that spread out in formation from the center—a first for the brand—and the headlights each have three striped elements to tie the EQS to the S-Class once more. The optional 21-inch wheels aren’t spared either, each with 40 individual spokes (20 long, 20 short). 

The EQS is a rather large sedan, but it hides its size well until you get within about 20 feet and you realize it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. At 205.4 inches long, it’s only two inches shorter than the S-Class and it uses this size to great effect thanks to the EVA platform, which is dedicated to electric vehicles and pushes the wheels farther out to the edges of the car. This gives the EQS a much shorter hood than the S-Class and lengthens the cabin, allowing for a very raked windshield which is, you guessed it, more aerodynamic. From the driver’s seat it feels like the front glass goes on forever. 

Mercedes doesn’t provide a frunk under the shortened hood like you’ll find in most other electric vehicles. That space is taken up by the HVAC system, including a gigantic HEPA filter. The EQS is a bit of a braggart; it will measure the air quality outside and inside and happily tell you how many allergens and impurities it’s filtering out. A small slot in front of the driver’s door also has an interesting application: to refill the windshield washer fluid, so owners never have to pop open the hood. 

EQS owners will be able to choose how their electric luxury sedan sounds. Two standard soundscapes dubbed Silver Waves and Vivid Flux will come standard on the EQS; the former is said to be sensuous and clean, while the latter is aimed at EV enthusiasts with a crystalline, synthetic sound. A third sound, called Roaring Pulse, will be an over-the-air update that can be downloaded and is said to be reminiscent of powerful machines.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Benchmark cabin

As awkward as the exterior may look, once owners climb inside they'll forget about it completely. Each of the four doors are powered and the driver’s door can be programmed to open by itself as you approach the vehicle. After climbing in, simply tap the brake pedal and the door closes. The interior is an absolute masterpiece, surpassing even the S-Class in some ways. It is the most luxurious, posh, and futuristic interior I’ve sat in this side of a Rolls-Royce. It had suede-covered pillows on even the front seat headrests, impeccable materials, and a futuristic design highlighted by the Hyperscreen.

Hyperscreen is a bit of a misnomer. The name infers that all of what you see behind the curved 56-inch sheet of glass that forms most of the dashboard is a screen. It’s actually three distinct screens: a 12.3-inch instrument panel display, a 17.7-inch central display, and another 12.3-inch screen in front of the passenger. The instrument panel screen is familiar and the passenger screen is novel, but that large middle screen is the star of the show. 

The lower part of the screen tapers in and is reserved for climate controls and dedicated home, back, and skip forward/back buttons, but it still leaves a very large main display area. Many of the screens feel like enlarged versions of what you’ll find on other Mercedes models with the MBUX multimedia system, but the EQS has one big trick up its sleeve: a new “zero layer” that serves as a home screen on steroids.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The zero layer is activated by hitting the home button twice, and it functions as a one-stop shop for all of your multimedia needs. It puts a 3D map in the background and adds small “tiles” for active car functions. For example, if you turn on the massaging seats, it will put a miniaturized widget of sorts on the screen that you can press to bring up a smaller version of the massage menu. Once you’re done, it shrinks back down to keep the map more visible.

There are tiles for each of the vehicle’s common functions and the functions in use are all visible on the top screen layer, hence the name “zero layer” because you don’t have to dig down through any menus to find what you want. It’s an impressive system that also learns when the driver uses certain functions. For example, you can geotag a location like a home garage, so that when you approach it the surround view camera will automatically activate. The goal of the EQS appears to be making life more seamless for the driver, and functions like this fulfill that mission.

The passenger screen functions in the same way that rear seat entertainment screens do, allowing passengers to set navigation destinations or to choose their own music and even videos. Drivers who dream of catching a show on the passenger screen while on the road won’t be allowed to. Mercedes says that the car can detect if the driver is looking at that screen and if you do it too much or for too long, the EQS will actually turn off whatever program is being viewed on the passenger’s screen. A Mercedes engineer was happy to let me know that the system also knows when you’re looking at your cell phone, though they haven’t done anything with that capability as of yet.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The Hyperscreen infotainment system runs off eight CPU cores, 24 GB of RAM, and 12 actuators under the touchscreen itself to trigger tangible vibrations when a finger touches the screen. Up to 350 sensors inside the EQS monitor its functions, vehicle surroundings, and passengers, including both body movement and spoken language. Artificial intelligence is also integrated. Mercedes-Benz said the EQS is capable of over-the-air software updates for the life of the vehicle.

The navigation system is intelligent enough to plan the fastest and most convenient route, including charging stops, while accounting for energy demand based on topography, route, ambient temperature, speed, and vehicle system demands. The system will utilize on-board data along with cloud computing to make calculations and respond to situations including but not limited to traffic, changes in energy demand, and the number of charging stations available, their charging capacity, and payment functions.

The available Burmester surround sound system in the EQS will feature 15 speakers and 710 watts of power. The 2021 S-Class can be ordered with a Burmester audio system with twice the number of speakers (30), and over double the power output (1,750 watts), but it runs on gas.

Mercedes-Benz EQS interior

Mercedes-Benz EQS interior

The dashboard of the EQS flows into the door panels as if it's one seamless piece, with a thin ribbon of LED lighting. Intricately detailed metal turbine-like air vents sit on either side of the dashboard, while the central air vents above the touchscreen display blend into the trim. The dashboard has a minimalist feel, but unlike a Tesla or other recent Mercedes-Benz models, it all appears integrated rather than tacked-on.

With no central drive tunnel or transmission housing to package around, the EQS employs some creative packaging solutions including a large open bin under the center console for a bag.

Quilted leather sport seats, shiny piano black plastic, real wood, metal speaker grilles, and enough LED lighting to throw a rave for five all add up to what one expects of a flagship luxury vehicle in 2021.

Certain bits, including the rear-seat entertainment screens, door handles, and door-mounted seat controls, appear to be shared with the new 2021 S-Class. That also means carrying over the 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 12.8-inch center touchscreen on EQS sedans without Hyperscreen, but that's not a bad thing. Flagships can share.

All that’s left to learn about the EQS is its price and what it’s like to drive. Everything that we’ve heard about and now experienced with the big electric sedan has been impressive, and if as much attention has been paid to the driving experience as the interior then the EQS will immediately vault to the front of the line as the premiere electric luxury sedan on the market when it launches this fall.

— Interactive Content Manager Joel Feder contributed to this report