2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 First Drive Review: New Direction, Familiar Path

Blissful silence at speed gives way to a sinister roar under hard acceleration. A plush ride belies uncharacteristic agility for such a large, heavy vehicle. And a gorgeous cabin with fine materials matches up with performance-focused interfaces. In other words, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 is precisely what we expected of Affalterbach’s first electric vehicle.

As firsts go, the AMG EQS is an expected triumph, matching the future of propulsion with the high-performance character the company has refined over generations. But more than that, the first AMG is the latest sign of how serious legacy automakers are about shifting to electrification. This is not a trend. This is not a fad. It’s the next generation of German high performance, and it’s here to stay.

Quick Stats:2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 53
Motor:Dual Permanent Synchronous Motors
Output:649 Horsepower / 700 Pound-Feet
0-60 MPH:3.4 Seconds (Race Start)
EV Range:330 Miles (est)
Base Price:$140,000 (est)

Gallery: 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS: First Drive Review

2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS exterior

The Playbook

This is the first all-electric AMG, but the company’s approach here is the same as on any gas-powered vehicle: dramatically improve straight-line performance, increase the emphasis on handling and driver involvement, upsize the brakes, focus the driver interfaces, adopt aggressive styling, and add a host of performance-focused technology and drive modes.

AMG took the standard EQS’ twin electric motors and tweaked the internals and software, increasing output from 516 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque in the 580 model to 649 hp and 700 lb-ft here. The sprint to 60 miles per hour falls from 4.1 seconds to 3.8 in most drive modes, but an available Race Start from the standard AMG Dynamic Plus pack adds an overboost function that temporarily increases output to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft while slashing four-tenths of a second from the run to 60.

This is the first all-electric AMG, but the company’s approach here is the same as on any gas-powered vehicle.

The standard air suspension and adaptive dampers benefit from AMG tuning, but engineers also replaced the entire rear subframe, as well as the motor mounts, control arms, rear axle, and wheel carriers. Rear-axle steering is standard, allowing the rear wheels to turn up to 9 degrees in either direction – that’s a degree less than on the standard EQS, owing to the larger wheel/tire pack (21s standard, 22s optional). Six-piston front calipers clamp down on massive 17.3-inch discs (with optional carbon-ceramic units), while AMG upped the electric motors’ maximum recuperation from 290 kilowatts to an even 300, giving the 53 stronger regenerative braking.

And of course, there are the technological tweaks. AMG dropped the Eco drive mode in favor of a Sport Plus setting, in addition to the Slippery, Comfort, Sport, and Individual options. Retuned for AMG duty, theSport and Sport Plus settings send more torque to the rear axle than in the standard EQS, while they also increase the delta between the softest and firmest suspension settings compared to Comfort. In addition to those presets, AMG made it easy to independently tweak the powertrain behavior, suspension firmness, and EV soundtrack from the Drive Mode screen in the standard 56-inch Hyperscreen.

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