Stellar ride comfort and refinement, Tesla-smashing build quality
Poor rear cabin headroom and visibility, tech is all very in-your-face
What is it?
It’s a medium-sized electric saloon, and helps bring the big Mercedes-EQ electric plan into focus. At the top of the tree, the EQS is the S-Class of Mercedes electric cars: big, plush and sleek. The EQA and EQB are simply GLA and GLB crossovers stuffed with batteries.
Spot the strategy? Mercedes’ less expensive EVs are simply internal-combustion cars with engines swapped for cells and motors, because that’s cheaper to do. But the EQS, EQE and upcoming SUV versions of both get their own platform, optimised to take advantage of battery packaging.
But it looks exactly the same as an EQS.
It does, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. While the EQE (like the EQS) is extremely aerodynamic (the S is slightly slipperier due to a longer tail) there’s a whiff of squashed Toyota Prius about the profile and it’s an amorphous, presence-free shape.
People who buy big luxury Mercs tend to want you to know they’ve done just that, without having to spell it out. But pull the badges off these streamlined pebbles and could you honestly tell it was a Benz? From the rear especially the EQE’s new-age proportions will take some getting used to.
What's new for the EQE?
It’s 90mm shorter than the EQS, and has either an 89 or 90kWh battery depending on spec – smaller than the EQS’s 108kWh monster. Claimed range for the EQE 350+, the single-motor rear-wheel drive model that’ll form the core of the UK range, is rated at 356-394 miles on the WLTP test cycle. Impressive.
The 350+ was the first iteration available to order in the UK, but now you’ve got the option of the entry level EQE 300 – again with a single-motor, rear-wheel drive layout but with that single kilowatt-hour smaller battery. Slightly strange. Merc says both get 288bhp and 417lb ft of torque too, but the 300 quotes a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds while the 350+ claims 6.4 seconds.
If you want more speed, there’s always the 626bhp twin-motor AMG EQE 53. You can read more on that by clicking these blue words. Other markets will get a twin-motor EQE 500 and a slightly less bonkers AMG EQE 43.
What other headlines do I need to know?
UK cars can be specced with Airmatic suspension (as fitted to our test cars) but won’t get clever rear-wheel steering, so a British-bought EQE won’t have the turning circle of a small hatchback – it’ll need another two metres to spin around.
Inside there’s five seats and the reclined 12.8-inch touchscreen from the S-Class. You can’t get the full-width Hyperscreen interface in the UK (yet). Check out the interior tab for more.
Mercedes will build EQEs for most of the world in Germany, but it’ll also be built locally in China for the Chinese market, as Mercedes looks to make the EQE the bedrock of its EV push.
There’ll also be zeitgeisty SUV versions of this car which will allow Merc to wring more profit out of these platforms – and begin to recoup some of the enormous investment ploughed into the EQ family.
How much money will I need to part with then?
In the UK prices will start at £73,450 for the base-spec 300, and £76,450 for the 350+. There’s more over on the buying tab too.
What's the verdict?
If you can get on with how the EQE looks – and that’s a big if judging by the reaction to the car’s reveal – then what you’ll find underneath is a rounded EV that (like its EQS big brother) tries to distil everything Mercedes has learned about luxury cars into a new electric package.
It’s ultimately quite successful at that: this is a quiet, exceedingly comfortable and effortlessly swift car. On first impression it rides better than an EQS too. Well, on air suspension it does. We’re yet to test one without. Single-motors and rear-wheel drive are surely the best bet (hence why Merc has brought two options over to the UK) and give the most range with enough acceleration to remind yourself you bought an EV with every press of the throttle pedal.
The EQE also makes some of the same mistakes as the EQS: feature-packed tech overload is great for filling the online brochure with gimmicks but doesn’t necessarily make for a relaxing time aboard the EQE.
There’s no doubt it’s a much better appointed object than a Tesla Model S, but Mercedes’ efforts to outdo every rival on tech may make this EV a bit too radical for some. And you’d never have thought that about an E-Class.