Myths have been passed on to us for generations unless someone’s curiosity has debugged them. Like in the days of Christopher Columbus, everyone thought the world was flat was one of the biggest myths; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and so on. Myths need to be deconstructed and debugged, and with that intent in mind, I set out to debug and clear the mystery around luxury EV sedans; that they can be taken out of the city limits, do a bit of calculated adventure, drive on the banks of a river and come back without having to charge it.
My weapon was a finely-crafted luxurious sedan, EQS 580 4MATIC, which is an EV with a WLTP range of 677 Km. I started my journey from Bangalore, drove through the ‘Serai Resort’ in Kabini, all the way to ‘Evolve Back’ in Coorg and finally back to Bangalore - a journey of 558 Km.
Will I be able to come back without charging it? Will I be able to drive to the waterfalls and Namdroling Monastery [ more km] and unleash the full potential of 855 NM of torque on the recently inaugurated Bengaluru - Mysuru expressway?
It was literally driving Into the Wild since Kabini is known for wildlife safari, and the recently opened expressway could throw surprises with parts still being completed, detours, etc. The thing which kept me calm is the fact the EQS 580 has a colossal 107.8 kWh battery pack, unmatched in the segment above and beyond. Comparatively speaking, the BMW i7 has 101.7KW, and the Audi e-tron 55 has 95 Kw. Then comes the lift function, which will raise it further 15 mm to a total of 125 mm to tackle uneven surfaces. The only thing required was to control my urge to drive harder in sports mode because EQS with sound on from the settings can really change its character to a performance EV with its 516 BHP powering all four wheels. The new 6-lane expressway is a total delight to drive, built over Rs 4,480 crore and has reduced travelling time from Bengaluru to Kabini to under 4 hours. The Serai Resort is a luxurious dip with a parallel river with only 20 cottages. It is a very exclusive place about one km from the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve Safari starting point, which is spread across 840+ Sq km with 120+ tigers calling it their home. Only diesel SUVs managed by forest officials can be driven inside the forest, and what was ironic was we were asked to keep quiet, and engines turned off so that tigers could be spotted. An EV should be just the solution for the choice of a vehicle which will not disturb the silence eerie of the jungle and animals and not pollute the serene environment.
We drove along the tarmac of the forest road with the EQS 580 and did manage to see elephants up close, deers, peacocks, monkeys, and everything but a tiger. The air quality and whiff in Kabini are so pure, so unadulterated; though the HEPA filter inside the cabin of EQS 580 can filter out 99.65% of particles outside of it, my lungs were feeling surreal. After an unspoken deal with the unseen tigers, I will be back perhaps with my binoculars and longer ‘forest’ time. We dashed off to ‘Evolve Back’ Coorg, another uber luxurious property 108 Km away, and the drive had a few surprises, but taming the EQS 580 on the winding roads was such a great feeling.
The rear-axle steering of the EQS 580 makes it easily manoeuvrable and is a delight in corners, especially when taking a U-turn on tighter roads.
The first morning in Coorg, we went for a coffee plantation walk in the middle of 265 acres, and the smell of coffee can wake your senses, change your mood, and charge you to perform. Coorg, which is invariably the coffee capital of India, is a complete indulgence for coffee aficionados and is relatable to a great body massage. A strong coffee also massages the mind, just like the EQS has multiple massage options with fragrance and an ionising purifier, and can completely spoil you. All along the drive, I had been pampering myself, with the ‘deep wave’ massage option being my favourite, so by now, all my five classic senses were in perfect harmony with the environment.
Next up was a short drive to Namdroling Monastery, which is also the 2nd largest Tibetan settlement in India. It is a beautiful monastery that emits positivity and reinforces your faith in the world’s overall goodness. Listening to my playlist called “mind relaxation music “in the immersive sound experience of the Burmester sound system was just a perfect drive companion. Coorg also has Abbey Waterfalls where river Kaveri drops for about 70 ft over wide rocks creating a spectacular view. The breathtaking and massive Abbey Waterfall syncs well with the gigantic 56-inch MBUX Hyperscreen with ambient lighting and the “co-driver display” with crystal clear resolution, making the EQS much more interactive. I did not miss any companion ; we used our quick user profiles whenever I shared the EQS with my colleague. The EQS 580 can store up to 800 personalisation of vehicle settings, from music programming to seat comfort and save them in any of seven user profiles. It’s such a neat feature to have in a luxury sedan shared with family members. The EQS can also sense if a passenger is sitting behind, and the sensors won’t let you stretch the seat and decrease the leg room of the rear passenger who might have been enjoying the panoramic sunroof and seat. (both hot and cold)
The overall comfort of the EQS 580 can keep you cocooned over any bad patches of tarmac, and the air suspension soaks in everything. At night, the changing ambient lights when you drive it rather spiritedly, change from comfort to sports mode is a total personalised lounge experience. From the outside, the rear light band with LED lamps in a 3D helix design completes its individuality and makes the EQS 580 look differently, soaked in total luxury, making its warmth spread somewhat like the bonfire at the resort.
Sustainability is just not a trending word; it is a thought process, and ‘Evolve Back’ has an EV charging bay with no plastic usage. They give linen slippers, glass water bottles and paper laundry bags made out of newspaper. The buggies were all electrically operated along with electric bikes for guests for adventure and fun riding. After munching miles on an electric bike, driving a luxury EV like the EQS, or planting a tree somewhere, you are reminding yourself of doing your bit to keep the world green. Every time I looked at the beautifully sculpted design with the illuminated seamless door handles and a one-bow design with a coupe-like silhouette, it just fitted in seamlessly with the peace and tranquillity of the lovely green environment of Coorg.
Away from chaotic city lives, where you don’t breathe as purely as in Kabini and Coorg, it was time to wrap up and head back to where we started. I had range anxiety, but simple maths told me I could easily make it back with the sounds of nature and picturesque memories captured. And guess what? Doing that in an EV was the perfect ending! No, I did not have to charge it, despite the Evolve Back resort having a 7 kw charging bay, despite driving it spiritedly with 50% of the time. I was also wrapped in utmost luxury with A/C on almost all the time.
Today, one myth has been debunked that you can take a luxury EV out of your city, road trip alongside a river bank, and enjoy a jungle safari without any range anxiety – all thanks to the EQS 580 4MATIC!
Photography - Sundesh Kumar