Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV review

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Mercedes ramps up its range of large EV models with this EQE SUV. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

If you're planning to switch out of a large combustion-engined Mercedes SUV any time soon in favour of a full-battery model, then this is the car the brand wants you to look at, the EQE SUV. Obviously based on the EQE EV saloon, it faces tough Crossover segment competition but delivers much of the elegant luxury you get in the company's top EQS SUV in a slightly more accessible package.

Background

The EQE SUV. Of all the large fully electric models Mercedes has recently introduced on its latest second-generation Electric Vehicle Architecture platform, this one is the most important. When the S-Class-sized EQS and E-Class-sized EQE saloons were introduced, we were told each would have a separate SUV derivative. Sure enough, the EQS SUV arrived in mid-2022 to compete in Range Rover SUVIP territory. And was followed a few months after by our subject here, the EQE SUV.

This model has a far tougher task, taking on accomplished bigger volume large-sized EV players like the Jaguar I-PACE, the BMW iX, the Audi E-tron quattro and the Polestar 3. Mercedes sees it as an electric version of its combustion GLE SUV and a different kind of car to its other large full-battery models. The idea is to aim at younger customers, but with pricing pushing up towards six figures, they'll need to be successful people.

Driving Experience

All variants use the same 89kWh (usable) battery and you have to have 4MATIC four wheel drive, plus of course the usual EV single-speed auto transmission. Things kick off with an EQE SUV 350 4MATIC variant with a 288hp output, which offers 765Nm of torque and up to 334 miles of range. There's also a more powerful EQE SUV 500 4MATIC derivative with 402bhp, 858Nm of torque and 324 miles of range.

In addition, customers are also offered a couple of 4MATIC Mercedes-AMG sporting models. Choose either the AMG EQE 43, which makes 62mph in 4.3s en route to 130mph and offers 303 miles of range. Or the AMG EQE 53, which can offer 617bhp, makes 62mph in under 4s en route to 137mph and can manage up to 292 miles of range. That top AMG EQE 53 model can also be had with an 'AMG Dynamic Plus' pack, which further pushes power up to 677bhp, reduces the 62mph sprint to 3.7s and pushes the top speed to 149mph. An extra 'RACE START' mode and additional e-motor sound settings come included in that pack too.

It's more relevant here though to concentrate on the mainstream 350 and 500 models, both of which come with adaptive damping, with air suspension optional. An 'off road' mode is standard, but don't expect this car to have too much off piste ability. Likely owners will be more interested in optional tarmac-orientated dynamic tools like electromechanical roll stabilisation and four-wheel steering, which can turn the rear wheels by up to 10-degrees (or 9-degrees on AMG models). Owners may also like the now-wider range of selectable drive sounds; 'Serene Breeze' is the latest option, which Mercedes claims sounds 'relaxed and natural'.

Design and Build

It's very possible that if you were familiar with large Mercedes EVs, you might mistake this EQE SUV for its EQS SUV showroom stablemate. Look more closely and you might spot this more affordable model's more heavily sloped roof line and more angled tailgate, both possible because this smaller design doesn't have to accommodate a third seating row. So it can be 262mm shorter, 19mm narrower and sit 32mm lower than the EQS SUV. That means a 4,863mm length that makes the EQE SUV a little more compact than its most obvious rivals: both the BMW iX and the Audi E-tron quattro measure over 4.9-metres in length. The frontal look is familiar from other larger Mercedes EQ models, with a full-width light bar and LED headlamps with two triangular elements (instead of the three on an equivalent EQS).

Inside, as with the EQS models, there's a choice of two different dashboard layouts. The most sophisticated uses the brand's ultra-wide Hyperscreen, a 56-inch curved display with three screens, one for the driver, one for the passenger and one in the centre. That'll be an expensive option on this car, but it really lifts the cabin when fitted. As you'd expect, there's a slightly higher seating position than you'd get in an EQE saloon. And a more spacious rear seat too. There's 520-litres of boot space - that's 20-litres more than a BMW iX. And the 40:20:40-split backrest folds to extend that to 1,675-litres, plus there's space beneath the floor for the charging cables.

Market and Model

You're going to need to think in terms of a price starting point of around £90,000 for EQE SUV ownership; that's for the entry-level EQE SUV 350 4MATIC model with base 'AMG Line' trim. Most customers will want a plusher variant, either mid-range 'AMG Line Premium' or the top 'AMG Line Premium Plus' or 'Business Class' trim levels (both identically priced).

The faster EQE SUV 500 comes only with the top three trim options and is priced from around £109,000. With either powertrain, Mercedes expects 'AMG Line Premium' trim to be the strongest seller and with this, for another £8,000, you can upgrade your car with the digital MBUX Hyperscreen set-up (standard with top 'Business Class'-trim). Obviously, you'll need significantly more than the prices we've quoted for the faster Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 4MATIC+ variant, which comes in 'Night Edition' or 'Touring' forms and starts from around £134,000.

A key option on the mainstream 350 and 500 variants is a head-up display unit featuring augmented reality features. Plus you'll want to leave some budget aside for the rear-axle steering set-up (standard on the 53 AMG version), which can reduce the turning circle by up to 1.8m. There's also a high efficiency particulate filter that works as part of an 'Energising Air Control' system.

Ideally, you're going to need the high spec front seat package, which gives you heating, ventilation and G-Force-defying dynamic cushion support. There's also a massaging package. You can additionally look at a large dual sunroof and, on the '350' you'll need to pay more for air suspension and the usual Burmester surround sound set-up. The Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 4MATIC+ comes with a range of AMG dynamic select drive programs - 'Slippery', 'Comfort', 'Sport', 'Sport+' and 'RACE START'.

Cost of Ownership

The 89kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged at speeds of up to 200kW, which allows the EQE SUV to gain around 155 miles of range in around 15 minutes. We like the clever choice of different charging programmes - 'Standard', 'Home' and 'Work', each of which allows you to pre-set things like departure time, maximum charge level and air conditioning settings. There's also a feature that Mercedes calls 'Eco-charging', which lowers the load on the battery during charging in a way that improves the longevity of the lithium-ion cells. As usual with an EV, you can lower the battery's charge state to a pre-set limit; or delay charging take advantage of off-peak electricity. As you'd expect, the battery can be replenished on the move by regenerative brake energy, a recuperation system that allows for single-pedal driving on its highest setting.

Mercedes makes much of what it calls its 'holistic approach to the battery life cycle', which sees EV batteries taken out of the company's cars at the end of their usable lives and employed in energy storage facilities, rather than being recycled instantly. The brand says over-the-air software updates that work with the EV-specific navigation system extend the battery's life in-car as long as possible, because they determine the best heating and cooling cycles for optimal performance.

Summary

The EQE SUV hits the sweet spot in the fast-growing market for executive-level large EV Crossovers and you can expect it to out-sell all the brand's other EQE and EQS models combined. Out-selling tough rivals from Jaguar, Polestar, BMW and Audi will be a different matter, particularly as most EQE SUVs will be sold at well over £100,000. But this model's very Mercedes look and feel will stand it in good stead in that regard.

It'll be interesting to see if owners of the equivalent combustion-engined Mercedes GLE are quite ready to convert into this, that car's direct EV counterpart. Perhaps that might take a little time yet. We're certainly surprised that Mercedes still doesn't think that an 800-volt fast charging electrified infrastructure is necessary for this class of car. The brand's EV revolution it seems, has a little way to go yet. But it's taken another step forward with this car.

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