This week we’re testing a very significant electric car, the Mercedes-Benz EQE. The conventional E Class (petrol, diesel, hybrid, PHEV) is a global car and a huge seller, so its new electric sibling simply has to be good.
While the EQE’s asking price of north of €80,000 will place it out of the reach of most mainstream Irish motorists, the car has a huge amount going for it. The five seat mid-sized premium saloon represents a tipping point for the German brand and the new car market. It is better than the E Class – a car that many see as the benchmark in the premium saloon market. The EQE has great range from a single charge, excellent energy efficiency with zero compromises taken on comfort. Ireland EQE sales will focus on our test car the EQE 350+. Priced from €85,980, the 350+ is stuffed with technology and features a real world range of 500km! (A more accessible/affordable EQE 300 is due this summer also).
The EQE has a distinctive look that represents a new direction for Mercedes-Benz saloons. On first sight the EQE seems to lack the E Class’s more blocky three box stance. The EQE is more aerodynamic and announces itself with a curvy front end and sloping, lift back-like rear end. The new look reflects the growing need for improved autobahn/motorway aerodynamic qualities – high speed driving is the worst environment for any EV’s electricity consumption. The EQE is not quite a mini-me version of the range topping EQS (they share the same modular platform) but it is not far off. SUV variants of the EQE and S are on the way too. The EQE’s exterior is not instantly attractive, but it is a grower. The aero wheels look sharp with the only niggle I have about the exterior metal being the oblong flap in the bodywork for the windscreen washer filler on the car’s nearside flank… it just looks odd and messes with the car’s lines.
Inside the cabin is really nice (our test car was highly specced). There is loads of space, the dash layout and finish is fantastic and the rear of the cabin is relatively huge and very comfortable. Overall the cabin of our €100K+ test car was beautifully appointed. You can spend a lot of time inside the EQE and get out every time feeling refreshed. The EQE despite its sloping rear is a four door saloon. Its boot is quite small for the size of car at a modest 430 litres. Standard connectivity, safety and assisted driving features are as you’d expect excellent with further options available. e.g. You can set/restrict the car’s dynamic ability to suit a novice driver.
The EQE 350+’s 100kWh (90kWh net) battery is big as you’d expect to be able to deliver such good range from a single charge. Mercedes quotes a range from fully charged as high as 641km (WLTP) and an energy consumption average of between 19.7 and 22.5kWh/100km. At rapid chargers the EQE can charge at speeds up to 170kW. Power output is 292hp and 565nm. The rear wheel drive EQE 350+ can sprint from 0-100km/h takes 6.4 seconds and top speed is 210km/h. So while the performance isn’t outstanding for a premium EV it is impressive and at no time did we feel short changed for overtaking power. Higher output versions are coming on stream including four wheel drive ‘4Matic’ AMG models like the €120,180 AMG EQE 43 (470hp) and AMG EQE 50 (677hp).
On the road the EQE is outstanding in all areas bar one – its not that quiet at speed. In urban environments the car is whisper quiet but out on the motorway the amount of road noise in the cabin is noticeable, in fact the amount is similar to an internal combustion E Class. Don’t get me wrong the EQE is a consummate cruiser but it could be even better on long runs with a more hushed cabin. The EQE is relatively rapid and the car can be as dynamic as you wish as it feels both swift and secure. The steering is weighted nicely and what it lacks in road surface feedback it makes up for with a premium/assured sensation to the touch. The way the EQE brakes takes some getting used. There is of course regenerative braking and you can select the way this works via the steering mounted paddles. There are three levels: None – where the car coasts freely when you lift off the accelerator, Normal – where there is modest braking force as the car uses the motor to slow the wheels and ‘Strong’ where there is lots of braking from the motor (almost one-pedal driving level). When you press the brake pedal the initial braking is done via the motor and the harder the press the more the traditional friction brakes are activated and used. The transition from motor (regenerative) braking to conventional is noticeable and can feel less than smooth – to the driver at least. In time this is less of an issue but it took me a day or two to get over it.
The driving position is excellent and vision all round is very good. The dash layout is easy to read and access – despite the fiddly little steering wheel mounted secondary controls we know well from other Mercedes-Benz models. In the driver’s seat you feel content and reassured you have an impressive zero emissions premium machine at your beck and call, and this is classic Mercedes-Benz. The ambient lighting is best in class.
Over the coming years the German brand will see it migrate fully to EV production for the first world and closer to home the dealer network will downsize or right-size to use the corporate lingo to reflect the changing methods of buying and leasing new cars. We will see more subscription packages and clever ways to induce people in to leasing cars rather than buying outright (new car prices are only going up!)… maybe the EQE will be a bit more accessible than I initial suggested! The EQE 350+ starts from €85,980. Our test car had three options fitted: AMG Line interior and exterior (€6,513), premium package (€12,129) and red seat belts (€509) – so it weighed in at €105,131. A host of options are available (rear wheel steering!) and these will easily part you from your cash unless you show temperance. Air suspension is an EQE option too, ideal for those seeking the smoothest ride… sure aren’t we all! In a nutshell the EQE is very impressive.