Mercedes-Benz gave its fully electric EQS flagship fastback sedan its official debut on Thursday—feeling a bit like a curtain call given the company’s tease of various aspects of the model over recent weeks and months. 

First seen as the 2019 Vision EQS concept, the EQS essentially rethinks the S-Class as all-electric. Key rivals will include the Tesla Model S Plaid, Lucid Air, and Porsche Taycan. 

With a range of up to 478 miles in the European WLTP spec, from a battery pack that has a usable 107.8 kwh, using new cells from CATL, the EQS promises to be far more energy efficient than the EQC SUV Mercedes previously produced and decided not to bring to the U.S.

Set to be powered by single (rear-wheel drive) or dual (all-wheel drive) motor systems, the EQS will make up to 516 hp and up to 611 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration from 0-62 mph happens in an official 4.3 seconds, and reproducibility has been a priority—although top speed will be limited to 130 mph.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The EQS will be as much of a technological flagship as the S-Class, including available rear-wheel steering and adaptive damping. Over-the-air updates for the full vehicle will apply to the battery management system, so range and efficiency will likely improve over time. It's also likely to outshine any of those models in what has traditionally mattered to those who buy high-end Mercedes-Benz models: luxury, and all the exclusive, detail-oriented features that establish the look, the feel, the sound, and even the smell of a luxury car. 

This electric sedan will arrive packed with details that will make it as much a feast for the senses as the S-Class—with power-opening and power-closing front and rear doors,users connected to fingerprint sensors, and a Hyperscreen interface that combines minimalism with advanced tech, special soundscapes, top-notch air filtration, and even aromatherapy. Like the Model S, it's actually a liftback, with a small frunk allowing a modest amount of additional storage space.

Cab-forward—with one bow, please

Although the interior of the EQS clearly takes cues from the S-Class, the exterior follows a completely new direction that hasn’t been led by traditional long-hood internal-combustion layouts. Built on Mercedes’ platform for large electric vehicles, the EQS follows cab-forward proportions and has a “one-bow” design, with the wheels pushed outward for a strong stance. 

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The EQS will be the debut model for a new Hyperscreen system that incorporates AI and seven different user profiles and has been described as “both the brain and nervous system of the car.” essentially makes the dash one continuous display space. 

The finely detailed, turbine-like round vents are the analog, serving as a counterpoint to the digital expanse that occupies the rest of the dash—although we should note that not all versions of the EQS will include the Hyperscreen and based on a few first glimpses, the interior might look better without it. With a wide range of matching or contrasting materials, from warm and traditional to stark and futuristic, you’ll be able to choose which side of that to embrace through the cabin. 

The right touch, sound, and smell

The EQS has not one but potentially three different soundscapes to fit those different expectations. Silver Waves is “sensuous and clean,” while Vivid Flux is “crystalline, synthetic yet humanly warm.” A third one, called Roaring Pulse is “reminiscent of powerful machines, creating a sonorous and extroverted feel.” Or if you’re like many electric vehicle fans, you’ll prefer simply to turn the supplemental sounds off. 

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes-Benz says it will likely offer more of these soundscapes, which aren’t just wav files but fully developed algorithms. According to Mercedes sound designer Thomas Küppers, the team considered just one sound profile for the EQS, but in doing so it would end up with a really bad compromise.

The EQS also purifies the cabin environment with an activated-charcoal HEPA filter removing 99.65% of particles, including PM2.5 and smaller, and captures a high percentage of viruses and bacteria. There’s also optional fragrance, and an audio library with “energizing nature” programs including ocean waves and bird sounds. 

Smooth. Very smooth.

Stepping back outside, the one-bow design gives the EQS a sweet spot with a unique profile and plenty of interior space. It also helps enable a coefficient of drag of just 0.20—which, Mercedes says, will make it the most aerodynamic production car in the world.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Compared to the S-Class and other sedans, the front end has been shortened and the greenhouse has been extended. A clamshell hood helps keep the look of the front of the car seamless, while a line that stretches the full length of the cabin helps visually lower it. 

Mercedes-Benz has given the EQS a grille—a star-pattern grille—and it strongly believed it needs that for cosmetics. “It’s a face,” said exterior designer Robert Lesnik. “We believe every car needs a face, an expression.”

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

The EQS needs to be a lot more than a pretty face and a great luxury car, of course, for those who want to be seen as superior to the Plaids of the neighborhood. Performance counts tremendously, charging is very important, and range is everything.

And for Mercedes-Benz, which owned 9% of Tesla earlier last decade and turned to Tesla for the only other electric car it has sold in the U.S., this is a pivotal moment in showing whether it can produce a new benchmark—and, in the EV era, what luxury cars will be.