2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV First Drive Review: A Fine Car to a Fault

The word “fine” is unrivaled in its subtle versatility. In its most common use, it is a nonchalant, almost backhanded compliment. “How was the movie?” one might ask. “Oh, it was fine.” It was alright. Not the best but also not the worst. Serviceable. Append it in front of certain nouns, though, and the word “fine” suddenly becomes a synonym for “elevated.” Think fine dining. Fine wine. And, according to what feels like every used luxury car dealer located near the airport, fine cars.

The 2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV seems to understand this to a T. With its sumptuously white Maybach-exclusive leather, a time-traveling 15-speaker Burmester “4D” sound system, and a pair of champagne flute holders in the back seat, the ultra-luxury brand’s first electric car is, by all accounts, A Fine Car. Dig a little deeper, though—ask more of it beyond being a car to show off on social media—and it seems to lean into its status as a “fine” car a bit too literally.

Deniz Calagan
2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS 680 SUV Specs
Base Price$181,050
Powertraindual-motor all-wheel drive
Horsepower649
Torque700 lb-ft
Seating Capacity4
Curb Weight6,228 pounds
Cargo Volume15.3 cubic feet
0-60 mph4.1 seconds
Top Speed130 mph
WLTP Range (est.)373 miles
Quick TakeFor better and worse, it’s fine.
Score7.5/10

The Basics

Let’s be honest about why people buy vehicles like this: It’s all about the optics. And in that respect, the Maybach EQS SUV checks a lot of boxes. Sufficiently swankier than the regular Mercedes EQS SUV, this Maybach version replaces the big three-pointed star with pinstriping on the “grille” area and a smaller, more classic Mercedes hood ornament. Said grille is flanked by two inserts filled with repeating Maybach logos seemingly designed to appeal to those who own the least subtle of Louis Vuitton merchandise. Optional two-tone paint and monoblock-style wheels tell the world this ain’t no GLC 300.

So far, the Mercedes EQ jelly bean look has not proven to be everybody’s favorite EV design language (and understandably so), but it’s arguably the least polarizing here. There’s an attractive muscularity in the hood, a thin LED lightbar joins the headlight DRLs and makes for a unique signature at night, and from the back, it’s almost R-Class-like in its minivan-ness.

The pinstripes-and-panache motif continues to the inside where the former can be found on the wood trim armrests and center storage areas. Ambient lighting is customizable and copious, the triple-display Hyperscreen setup is a flex on premise alone, there are extendable footrests and actual lumbar pillows for both rear seats, and this company’s metal speaker grilles continue to be the prettiest in the game.

Mercedes-Maybach

Champagne Problems

While the Maybach’s front row is anything but basic, the business class rear quarters are where it’s at. In lieu of a middle seat, a large center console separates two recliner-style seats. Said console contains the aforementioned champagne flute holders and, of course, a set of Maybach-branded champagne flutes. There’s a mini fridge to keep drinks cold, tablets in front of each throne controlling everything in the car you’d want control over as a passenger (there’s also a smaller, portable version of this docked in the center in case you can’t be bothered to lean forward), and the carpets are very thick.

Sitting in the back of the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is one of the ritziest ways to travel, there’s no doubt about it. But everything is relative, and if I’m going to be as picky as somebody splashing big money on a prestige-prestige car like this should be, there are a few areas where things could stand to be improved.

Mercedes-Maybach

Chalk this first one up to early/pre-production bugs, but in the EQS I happened to test, the button that lets the rear-right passenger put the front passenger seat forward to allow for full-relaxation mode simply did not work. As in pressing it (and pressing it harder, pressing it repeatedly) did absolutely nothing. I tried this again later in a different vehicle, though, which did work, so take that for what it’s worth. Once you have that front seat out of the way, the EQS SUV also isn’t as spacious as I thought it would be. I am a tall-Kenough five-foot-eight and in full-stretch recliner mode, my shoes were touching the back of the seat in front of me. Irksome especially considering the beautiful wood said seatback is finished in. Tell ’em to bring out the long-wheelbase version.

What’s more, the screen on the pop-out Samsung tablet (it surprisingly still has a Samsung logo on the back) that lets you control audio, climate, and comfort settings is noticeably low-res, looking a bit like a standalone GPS unit from 2014.

On the plus side, I do like how Maybach has implemented its automatic doors. To start, all four doors can be opened and closed via motors. In addition to sliders in the central touchscreen, these are conveniently triggered with the inside door handle—long pull when it’s closed and the door swings out all the way automatically. Get out, tug once on the same handle, and the door swings shut by itself. It’s a nifty, intuitive feature, and I became genuinely bummed after I realized that I had to leave Maybachland and return to the real world where I have to open and close my own car doors like a damn caveman.

Driving Experience

Mercedes-Maybach

Speaking of doing things for yourself, the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is indeed a car you can drive if and when your chauffeur dares to take PTO. What you’ll find is a luxurious-driving car in about 80% of situations. Relaxedly cruising on the highway or slowly putting around town, there’s a serene ethereality with which the electric Maybach moves. Everything is extremely quiet and extremely smooth but appropriately substantial. Rear-wheel steering of up to 10 degrees means it’s maneuverably agile in tight spaces while the steering wheel itself is made of leather and what feels like lacquered wood, making every journey feel like you’re driving around a piece of Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue.

However, when the road gets twisty, hilly, or if you ever find yourself in, like, a high-speed chase or something, the Maybach EQS isn’t quite as competent as one might imagine.

Ultra-soft, floaty air suspension with adaptive damping may sound like a boon, especially for this type of car, but force it to do actual work and travel over complex, undulating surfaces at anything above a brisk jog and the ride becomes straight-up boat-like. The vertical movement here may be slow and soft, but it’s heaving, pronounced, and constant. It wasn’t bad enough to make me actually nauseous, but I will say that my day with the Maybach EQS happened to involve traveling on an actual boat—it’s a blessed life, I know—and the machine that got me closer to seasick was indeed not the boat. There is a way to engineer flagship-comfortable suspension that’s also stable and controlled during harder driving (see: the BMW 7 Series or, like, any Bentley), and this ain’t it.

Mercedes-Maybach

When I drove the new C-Class sedan, one of my biggest gripes happened to be its long, jerky brake pedal, and while the Mercedes on the other end of the brand’s totem pole isn’t nearly as bad in this arena, it has shades of the same flaw. The electric EQS SUV’s brake pedal is also quite long in travel, which means pads don’t touch discs quite as early as I would’ve liked.

Similarly, that other pedal also felt less responsive than expected. A dual-motor all-wheel drive system making 649 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque is objectively a lot and gets the car from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, which is pretty much par for this type of EV. For reference, the regular dual-motor Tesla Model X does the same in 3.8 seconds whereas the tri-motor Plaid model gets there in an alarming 2.5. Perhaps this is to be expected for a 6,228-pound electric vehicle of this attitude, but highway passing wasn’t as aggressive or impressive as I’d hoped. Getting from, say, 60 to 90 mph isn’t slow by any means, but it’s also not as neck-snappingly effective as one might expect from a top-shelf German luxury car.

Oh, and, for what it’s worth, the view out the rear window is comically small.

The Early Verdict

A flagship-among-flagships product like the 2024 Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV should be a technical marvel. A near-perfect piece of luxury and engineering made to soothe and tickle the minds and souls of the world’s most fortunate. The Maybach EQS SUV isn’t really that car. There are too many little pain points for it to be that car. Where others in this space trade on driving and technical excellence, this top-shelf Mercedes sells itself on flash and Instagrammability.

Does this car have enough internet clout-generating chrome and gizmos to warrant that sort of coin? Sure, it does. And, as we’ve already established, that’s probably all it has to do to be a winner for a lot of the folks actually signing on the dotted line. I just wished that the machine underneath was as dazzling as the shiny items that surround it.

Mercedes-Maybach

Got a tip or question for the author about the Maybach EQS SUV? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com

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