Mercedes-Benz EQE review

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

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 i4 and the Audi A6 e-tron, but it could also interest people looking at top versions of the Tesla Model 3.

Folk considering upper versions of smarter upper mid-sized full electric SUVs could also be interested, though Mercedes already has its EQC crossover to interest them. The EQE's task is to bring this battery technology to the 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 288bhp rear-mounted motor, which is linked to single-speed transmission and powered by a 10-cell 90.6kWh battery offering a WLTP-rated range of 339-410 miles - better than most rivals. It's fast too, the 62mph sprint dispatched in 5.9s en route to a high (for an ordinary EV) top speed of 131mph.

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 275-322 miles. This offers 626hp and deals with the benchmark sprint in 3.5s. Add to this top version the optional 'AMG Dynamic Plus Pack' and output rises to 687hp and the sprint time improves to 3.3s.

But the EQE 350 will be more than sufficient for most. Air suspension (optional on the '350' but standard on the '53') eases away the issues of the day and 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 at touch larger than an E-Class; in fact the dimensions 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.

As you approach the EQE, the door can automatically open for you, unaided and chauffeur-like, then it'll close behind you once the seatbelt has clicked in. Most customers are going to want to pay more for the extra cost Hyperscreen which spans a complete width of the dashboard. There are three parts to it; the main centre touchscreen, the instrument monitor and the head-up display. Plus at further spend, you can add a fourth passenger-side infotainment centre, which allows your front seat friend to play games, watch movies or access various secondary controls.

Full-battery platforms are usually more than 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. Headroom is as good as in an EQS. Boot space though - 430-litres - is 180-litres down on that larger model.

Market and Model

You're going to need to think in terms of a price starting point of around £80,000 for EQS ownership; that's for the base EQE 350 model. Obviously, you'll need significantly more for the faster Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 4MATIC+ variant. And you'll need more again if you want to upgrade your car with the digital MBUX Hyperscreen set-up almost all EQE customers will want. Other options include 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. Another neat touch we really like is the automatic door opening arrangement. 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 90.6kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged at speeds of up to 170kW, which allows the EQE 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 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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