A few days on from the reveal of Mercedes-AMG’s first plug-in hybrid, Affalterbach’s first full production EV has arrived
Only a few days ago, the first-ever Mercedes-AMG plug-in hybrid, the GT63 E-Performance, was revealed. Already, the car has been usurped in its significance by this, the EQS 53, AMG’s first full production electric vehicle.
We have to slap ‘full production’ in front of that, as before the EQS there was the SLS Electric Drive, of which only nine were made. And in stark contrast to that wild-looking so-and-so, the EQS is thoroughly ordinary when it comes to aesthetics. It’s barely any different from the non-AMG version of the car.
There’s a new AMG-specific slatted ‘grille’, and that’s about it. Normally, we’re used to AMG models sprouting obnoxious wheel arch flares for widened tracks, fat diffusers and angry front bumpers, but not so here. Inevitably for an electric car, the lack of uniqueness continues to the powertrain, which remains a 107.8kWh battery pack and a pair of motors, much like an EQS 580.
The wick has been turned up considerably here, however, with new motor units providing 751bhp and 752lb ft of torque, compared to 516bhp and 631lb ft in the 580. And to think, this is a 53-badge model – it’s possible AMG might extract even more for a ‘63’ version.
It does need a bonkers power figure like this to mirror the performance of non-ICE AMGs, though, as the kerb weight is a monstrous 2,655kg. As such, the EQS 53 can’t quite match the performance of AMG saloons like the E63 and S63, with a marginally slower 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds. That figure is also only possible for cars with the AMG Dynamic Plus package specced. So long as that option is ticked, the full 751bhp beans are delivered via an overboost function when performing a ‘race start’. On non-Dynamic-equipped 53s, you’re looking at a still handy 3.8-second 0-62mph dash.
Although the styling is barely any different to other EQS models, there are plenty of chassis tweaks going on that you can’t see. The rear axle has been “completely redeveloped,” while the subframe and motor mountings are fresh AMG parts. Various other components including the wheel carriers and control arms are developed from existing AMG products. Finally, the air suspension features the same pressure relief valves as the GT 63 E-Performance, allowing for independent control of the compression and rebound strokes.
And yet, the want-factor over the 580, which still does 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, isn’t quite there. Even if Merc does unleash an even more powerful 63 at some stage, it will still, like the 53, seem more like a step up in the range rather than a model in its own right.
AMG has at least put in more effort than Audi did with the RS E-Tron GT, which differs very little from the standard version of the car, but the EQS 53 shows the fundamental problem with performance versions of normal cars. And this is an issue that will be present on all AMG’s future EVs. When you can’t make them unique in the powertrain department, is merely adding straight-line speed and tweaking the handling to further mitigate a colossal weight figure going to be enough?
We’re absolutely not the target buyers for a brand new, ultra high-powerful EV with an expected price tag well in excess of £150,000. There’s certainly a market for such things, otherwise the Porsche Taycan Turbo S wouldn’t exist. But if it was us, we’d probably stick to the less powerful one, perhaps using the savings for something fun and petrol-powered (therefore much lighter) to use at the weekends. Because like it or not, future AMGs aren’t going to have the same appeal as their, lighter, noisier predecessors.