One of the biggest trends in fashion this year has been “quiet luxury,” high-end clothes that look classically chic and subtle, avoiding announcing to the general public how expensive they actually are. More than just a clothing trend, the quiet luxury ethos has been applied to some luxury cars for decades, as many enthusiasts and customers of high-end cars have traditionally preferred an understated design.
I am not one of them. My favorite luxury cars have always been extravagant and in-your-face, the shinier and shoutier the better. Enter the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV, the first electric car from the Maybach subbrand. Aimed at an increasingly younger customer base in top-selling countries like China that are more open to EVs and progressive designs, the Maybach EQS is exactly the kind of luxury car I want from our new electric era.
[Ed note: Part of being Pro-Car is understanding not all cars are for everyone. Just as it might be difficult to explain the allure of a GR Corolla to a person whose ideal car is a Lexus ES, so, too, can it be difficult to appreciate the upper stratosphere of luxury cars. The good news is that we know a guy who loves this stuff, and we’re excited to have Daniel here to explain the importance of these cars. – MH]
Look, I don’t care about trying to convince anyone to love how the Maybach EQS looks, or any Mercedes EQ car for that matter. Their aero-optimized shapes and soft surfacing are too blobby and amorphous for some, but to me they look like the future, and that’s what really draws me to a design these days. Love it or hate it, at least the EQS stands out and makes a statement.
This is the first electric Mercedes to feature a standing three-pointed star hood ornament, aerodynamics be damned, and head of the Maybach brand Daniel Lescow notes that it helps underscore the car’s branding. The light bar running across the top of the “grille” gets a new chrome bar with a Maybach script, so when looking at the front end you read “Mercedes” from the hood ornament and then “Maybach” from the trim.
That black grille panel has vertical chrome slats with a 3D effect that adds some depth, and they’re echoed by slats in the lower bumper intake. Mercedes says it has figured out how to hide radar sensors behind the panel without having them be visible thanks to the use of indium for the surface, which is then covered in black lacquer. The side intakes have what must be the most outrageous mesh design ever conceived: the double-M Maybach logo is repeated over and over, alternating between normal orientation and upside-down to create a pattern much like that of a Louis Vuitton handbag. And these intakes are chrome, of course.
The EQS’ existing chrome window trim is augmented by a chrome B-pillar, a Maybach signature, and anodized aluminum running boards are standard. The center taillight bar has more LED helix twists than the normal EQS SUV, and the tailgate and rear bumper have additional chrome trim. Each D-pillar is adorned with the Maybach logo, though they sadly aren’t illuminated like on the S-Class. Mercedes nerds will notice that all of the exterior badging uses a classy Maybach-specific font, as opposed to the futuristic font used by other normal EQ cars (AMGs included).
Five different two-tone paint schemes are available, my favorite of which pairs Cirrus Silver on the lower half with Nautical Blue on top. The base 21-inch wheels are inspired by champagne flutes and look pretty good, but I’d never consider them. In fact I don’t understand why anyone would, when you can instead go for a forged wheel with a polished five-hole monoblock design that has thick spokes and a wheel hub cover. Coming after launch will be a 22-inch monoblock wheel with a more futuristic and chunky 7-spoke design, but I think I still prefer the five-spoke monoblocks.
If you really want to amp up the branding you can select the Night Series package, which is also newly offered for the Maybach GLS and S-Class. Essentially Maybach’s equivalent of a black appearance package, the Night Series exchanges all of the car’s chrome exterior trim for bits with a dark chrome finish, which looks much nicer and more high-end than the typical gloss black of a pack like this. Night Series cars also get rose gold headlight accents with the Maybach logo, the repeating Maybach pattern on the B-pillar trim, and special 21-inch wheels that have the repeating pattern between the spokes. If you include those that are halfway cut off, the Night Series EQS has somewhere around 950 Maybach logos just on the outside—yes, I actually counted.
Like most people, a frequent cause of stress and exhaustion in my life is manually opening car doors, and the Maybach EQS has a solution. All four doors are powered and can be opened or closed via the infotainment screens or key, or by brushing your hand against the door handle. But even that is extra work, so the driver’s door can also open automatically from five feet away if you approach with the key in your pocket, and a press of the brake pedal closes it. Ultrasonic sensors will stop the doors from opening into obstacles like curbs or other vehicles.
Once in the driver’s seat the Maybach looks and feels much like a normal EQS. The dashboard-spanning Hyperscreen is standard, and the MBUX infotainment system has Maybach-specific graphics and animations with tons of repeating Maybach logos. There’s a Maybach gauge design with a simple appearance inspired by a silk scarf blowing in the wind; as the digital needles sweep across the speedo and power gauge the nearby numbers grow larger and then fade out of view.
No matter what color scheme you choose, the Maybach EQS is the first Mercedes to use leather that is sustainably tanned using coffee bean shells and other vegetables. That leather feels suitably luxurious and covers far more surfaces than in a regular EQS SUV, especially if you go for one of the fancier Manufaktur options like the Crystal White of my test car, and there’s nice quilting and contrasting stitching and piping. The Maybach also has a number of special trim options, including natural grain wood and piano black with flowing aluminum lines, and the front seatbacks have a unique design that features the same veneer and more badging.
For now, there is just a single powertrain configuration that Mercedes denotes as the EQS680. Its two electric motors put out a total of 649 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque, making the Maybach the most potent version of the EQS SUV. Those figures match the output of the AMG EQS sedan (not including that car’s launch control boost function) and is 113 hp and 67 lb-ft more powerful than the EQS580 SUV. The Maybach will hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, almost half a second quicker than the EQS580, and it certainly feels much punchier off the line and when accelerating to pass at freeway speeds.
The Maybach uses the same 107.8-kWh as the standard EQS SUV. Range hasn’t been announced yet, but the EPA rating will likely land at around 300 miles; when I hop into a fully charged Maybach the gauge cluster shows a max range of 318 miles. Like other EQS SUVs, the Maybach can charge at up to 200 kW, good enough to go from 10-80% in 31 minutes or gain about 100 miles of range in just 15 minutes of charging. Plugging in with the 9.6-kW onboard charger will fully replenish the battery in under 13 hours.
One of the biggest annoyances plaguing the existing EQ lineup is a brake pedal that physically moves when the car’s regenerative braking kicks in, but the issue seems to have been solved with the Maybach EQS—or at least the one-pedal driving provided by the highest regen setting is strong enough that I never notice, as I almost never need to touch the brake pedal. The Maybach’s pedals are metal and feature the Maybach logo, which is a nice styling flourish.
The Maybach is noticeably quieter than a regular EQS SUV, with only the slightest whispers of wind from the side mirrors entering the cabin. A fixed parcel shelf in the cargo area acts as a bulkhead, suppressing unwanted noises from the rear wheels and other mechanical components, and two surround sound speakers are integrated on top. The Maybach also has acoustically laminated glass and more sound insulation than the normal EQS, and it can decouple the front motor for better efficiency and less noise.
Rear-wheel steering that turns up to 10 degrees is taken from the regular EQS, and it’s an absolute game-changer when it comes to maneuvering the Maybach around city streets and making u-turns. Its 36.1-foot turning circle is even tighter than that of a C-Class sedan, and seeing the huge monoblocks twist around at the rear always makes me giggle. This is definitely not a car you want to throw into a corner or drive briskly at all, but the light steering is at least direct and accurate.
Unlike Maybach versions of the GLS and S-Class, the Maybach EQS isn’t offered with Mercedes’ fancy E-Active Body Control road-scanning suspension—that means it doesn’t get the GLS’ bouncing party trick. Air suspension and continuously adjustable dampers are standard, and the Maybach has its own tuning compared to the standard EQS. Ride quality is phenomenal, soaking up road imperfections and potholes with only the tiniest shudders from the biggest bumps ever making their way into the cabin. There’s some body roll, sure, but the low center of gravity ensures it doesn’t feel top-heavy despite a curb weight that will surely exceed the EQS580’s 6,200-ish pounds.
Sometimes the ride can be a bit bouncy or pitchy from the front seats, but that’s actually on purpose. In place of the standard EQS’ default Comfort drive mode is a new Maybach mode that is engineered to provide the optimal ride for rear-seat passengers. After all, this is a car that’s meant to be chauffeur-driven, with Lescow saying most Maybach customers really do use chauffeurs, whether for special occasions, weekday commutes or even 24/7. At the launch in Vancouver, I have many opportunities to be chauffeured in the back of the Maybach, and while driving the car myself is lovely, being driven is far better. From the rear seats I notice none of the body movements present up front, the ride always feeling perfectly smooth and level. In fact, I notice barely anything at all, as the Maybach’s rear cabin is like the world’s fanciest isolation tank.
While the Maybach S-Class has a longer wheelbase to provide increased rear-seat space, the Maybach EQS is identical in size to the regular EQS SUV, instead tossing out the optional third row and moving the second-row seats further back like in the Maybach GLS. A five-seat configuration is standard, though it’s not your typical bench seat. The outboard seats have heating, ventilation and massage functions, including a calf massage and neck and shoulder heating. An 11.6-inch touchscreen is attached to both front seatbacks, and the center armrest has an additional removable tablet that can control either screen’s functions.
Check the four-seat Executive Rear Seat Package Plus option box and the EQS gets what Maybach calls the First-Class Rear setup. This adds a fixed center console that connects all the way to the front, and a waterfall-like design that cocoons the rear seats in the chosen wood trim. A powered storage lid hides a pair of heated and cooled cupholders, while the center armrest hides two HDMI ports and four USB-C ports, a wireless charging pad and optional fold-out tray tables. Also optional are a refrigerator (which can be removed for more cargo space) and silver-plated champagne flutes. The console actually has a floating effect similar to the front center console, with empty space below and a Maybach logo projected onto the carpet.
You can’t go wrong with either rear seat, but for maximum luxury you need to be in the one on the right. Press the max recline button and the front passenger seat slides all the way forward, letting you fully raise the calf rest and extend the footrest integrated into the front seatback. It really is like being in a business-class airplane seat, just with far more luxury and fewer unruly passengers. The Maybach even comes with a pair of handmade pillows cut from the same leather used for the interior, and each headrest has a super soft cushion that is, of course, branded with the Maybach logo.
I’m already a huge fan of Mercedes’ active ambient lighting, and the Maybach takes things up another notch. There are 253 individually controlled LEDs in total throughout the interior, with the Maybach getting lights that wrap around the roof and seatbacks, and there’s a new rose gold color scheme to choose from. Lescow’s favorite design touch is the square lamp setup positioned at eye-level in the C-pillars, a nod to opera lights from the 1920s, and their brightness can be individually adjusted. Rear-seat passengers also have precise control over different spotlights throughout the cabin to illuminate things like a book in your lap or the tray tables.
Using the rear MBUX touchscreens I can control nearly everything in the car apart from driving-related vehicle settings. Different user profiles can be logged into from any seat, which makes the number of adjustable settings and functions much less daunting to deal with every time you get in—everything from your seat position, climate control preferences, audio settings, ambient lighting colors and more can be saved. Wireless headsets can be paired to any of the passenger seats, so each occupant can listen to their own music or watch their own videos. There are also a bunch of games, some of which have multiplayer functionality.
The standard Burmester 4D surround sound system is one of the best on the market, with 15 speakers in total and two exciters in each seat. Dolby Atmos integration makes for truly cinematic sound, especially with the seat exciters set to their maximum intensity, and I hear details in the production and vocals of songs that I’ve never noticed before. The Dolby tech is also a boon for watching a movie on one of the many screens, and it works with the headphones.
A new scent called No. 12 Mood Ebony has been developed for the Maybach EQS’ onboard fragrance dispenser, with Mercedes describing it as “an exclusive composition of longing, attraction and devotion,” and a HEPA filter provides ultra-clean air inside. There are a few driving sounds to choose from that are played inside and out of the car, with the Maybach getting a new Aerial Grace sound. The doors project animated puddle lights onto the ground, and the headlights project an animation on the road ahead when the car is unlocked. An Off-Road drive mode raises the suspension and uses the exterior cameras to make the hood appear see-through, with an infotainment page that displays tons of data that Maybach owners will never care about. You can upload your own images to be used as screensavers for the passenger display. I could go on.
Is any of this stuff really necessary? Not really. But luxury cars have never been about necessity. What’s far more important is desire. I want to live in the Maybach’s ultra-fancy rear seats. I want to listen to that crazy sound system. I want those automatic doors. I want to look at its flashy exterior every day. I want to step out of my car always feeling relaxed and refreshed, and that’s what the Maybach EQS does.
When the Maybach EQS goes on sale later this fall it should carry a starting price of around $200,000. It will be built alongside the GLE, GLS, EQE SUV and EQS SUV in Alabama, making it one of the most expensive series-production cars ever built in the United States. In 2022 Mercedes-Maybach delivered nearly 22,000 cars globally, up 37% compared to the previous year, and so far through Q2 2023 sales of Mercedes EVs have more than doubled. The Maybach EQS is teed up to be the subbrand’s most important and potentially successful model yet, and from both the driver’s and passenger’s perspectives, I think it deserves that crown.
All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.