Mercedes-Benz EQE review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

With the EQE, Mercedes sets a benchmark for full-sized EV Executive Saloons. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

The EQE is the Mercedes take on what a full-sized, full-electric premium Executive saloon should be. Essentially, it's a downsized EQS, which means it's very futuristic indeed - and sophisticated where you'll want it to be, in terms of range and cabin tech. Still want that E-Class saloon? Try one of these first.

Background

Enough with electric mid-sized SUVs. What will the all-electric full-sized Executive segment luxury saloon of the near future look like? Mercedes says it should look like this, the EQE, a car that delivers a lot of the technology of the brand's EQS flagship EV limo counterpart, but at a slightly more accessible price point. The EQE's main targets are premium EV saloons like the BMW i5 and the Audi A6 e-tron, but it could also interest people looking at cars like Porsche's Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT quattro.

Folk considering upper versions of smarter upper mid-sized full electric SUVs could also be interested, though Mercedes also has a separate EQE SUV model to interest them. Either way, the EQE's task is to bring its brand's latest battery technology to a slightly more accessible part of the luxury saloon sector - that for full-sized Executive sedans. It's effectively the all-electric counterpart to a Mercedes E-Class. Who knows; the EQE model range may even replace the E-Class line-up in the future. For the time being though, it's an intriguing alternative.

Driving Experience

The EQE promises to be a sublime cruiser, with class leadership targeted in all areas of noise reduction. That's very Mercedes - and so should be the feel of the volume EQE 350 model's 292hp rear-mounted motor, which is linked to single-speed transmission. It's fast too, the 62mph sprint dispatched in 6.4s en route to a high (for an ordinary EV) top speed of 130mph. There's also a lesser EQE 300 derivative (the one we tried) which has a 245hp motor and makes 62mph in 7.3s. Both variants use a 10-cell 89kWh battery offering a WLTP-rated range of 356-388 miles (depending on version) which broadly meets the class standard.

Inevitably, Stuttgart has also developed a faster Mercedes-AMG 53 4MATIC+ model for those that might want it, complete with 4MATIC 4WD and a range of up to 291 miles. This offers 625hp and deals with the benchmark sprint in 3.5s. We'd stick with the mainstream versions, which see the EQE at its best when merely wafting along and making best use of the brand's typically well-engineered brake energy recuperation system.

It's very impressive, possibly even more so than the top AIRMATIC+ air suspension set-up, though that's only fitted to the pricier variants. Whatever damping system features on your EQE of choice, you'll find that body roll's well controlled considering this car's size and weight - and there's also a surprising amount of cornering grip. Those wanting to improve things further and prepared to stretch to the top trim levels can benefit from the extra cornering stability of rear-wheel steering - which will also improve your parking turning circle. Highway refinement's exceptional, but if you don't like the silence, there are various selectable sound programs linked to the ebb and flow of the electric motor - 'Silver Waves', 'Vivid Flux' and 'Roaring Pulse'.

Design and Build

If you happen to be familiar with the EQS, you'll recognise the EQE immediately as its close cousin. The two cars share the same EVA2 all-electric platform, but the EQE is 270mm shorter, though is still almost 5-metres in length. Which makes it a touch larger than an E-Class; in fact the dimensions are more similar to the brand's CLS four-door coupe. There are super sleek aerodynamics - and very big wheels (either 19 or 20-inches). What's under the panel work is interesting too. This is the first Mercedes to be built using 100% recycled steel.

Traditionally, Mercedes has had an enviable reputation for luxurious interiors and it's something the EQE simply has to get right to be credibly considered in this segment. Sure enough, what's delivered here is a cabin that manages to blend classic ideas with modern detailing. There's plenty of screen tech of course - a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 12.8-inch OLED centre screen. And the high-set centre console and slab-effect dash seem appropriately futuristic, the latter topped by a narrow vent line highlighted by copper-coloured detailing meant to evoke an electrical theme.

This, together with the thin accompanying ambient lighting strip, flows seamlessly back into the door cards, the joining point in each corner just shy of a silver 'jet turbine'-style air vent. You get an art deco three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel, and on top models, finishing touches like red dash-top double-stitching and intricate Burmester speaker grilles. You might even like the enormous slab of piano black plastic below the centre screen. At night, with the elegantly back-lit 64-colour ambient lighting system illuminated, it all feels very high end indeed.

Full-battery platforms are usually more space efficient than combustion ones - and so it proves here. The EQE has an 80mm longer wheelbase than an E-Class and that really brings benefits in the back for leg room, which is very generous. But the bench is sited quite low in relation to the floor, so you'll find your knees bent at a slightly awkward angle. And, as we'd feared, that swooping rear roof line will restrict headroom for taller folk, particularly with the mandatory twin-panel panoramic glass roof fitted. Boot space is a competitive 430-litres.

Market and Model

You're going to need to think in terms of a price starting point of around £75,000 for EQE ownership; that's for the base EQE 300 model, which comes in 'AMG Line', 'AMG Line Premium', 'AMG Line Premium Plus' and 'Exclusive Luxury' forms, as does the faster EQE 350. Obviously, you'll need significantly more for the faster Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 4MATIC+ variant (from around £115,000). Only the AMG 53 is available with the option of the 55.5-inch digital MBUX Hyperscreen set-up borrowed from the EQS.

All versions get a large dual sunroof, plus there's also a high efficiency particulate filter that works as part of an 'Energising Air Control' system. In addition, you get privacy glass, heated windscreen washers, LED headlights, a powered boot lid and a reversing camera with parking sensors. Inside, every EQE gets a pair of large screens as standard; a 12.3-inch 'digital instrument cluster display' and a 12.8-inch centre-dash infotainment 'media display'. That big middle monitor includes a finger print scanner that can be used to start the car, and save settings to pre-programme elements such as the seating position or radio station to the driver's profile.

But you'll need top-spec for the Burmester surround sound set-up and a head-up display unit featuring augmented reality features. Top trim's also required for the AIRMATIC air suspension - and for the rear-axle steering set-up, which can reduce the turning circle by up to 1.8m.

Cost of Ownership

The 89kWh and (for the EQE 53 version) 90.6kWh lithium-ion batteries can be charged at speeds of up to 170kW, which allows the EQE to gain around 155 miles of range in around 15 minutes. A charge from a home wallbox will take a little more than 12 hours. 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 shows just how much Mercedes is prepared to invest in class leadership in the new segment for all-electric Executive saloons. Some may struggle a little with the way that aerodynamics rather than character appear to have overly influenced the looks, but in terms of range, technology and cabin wow factor, the EQE is undeniably class-leading.

It should feel like a Mercedes to drive too, with class benchmarks targeted in both refinement and silky smooth power delivery. Choose one of these, then live with it for a bit and you might find yourself wondering why the combustion-engined E-Class equivalent is still on sale. Once there's price parity between the two cars - which may not be as far off as many think - there's little doubt which of the two models most prospective customers will choose. The future's arrived.

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