Solidly built, decent range, easy to use
Doesn't bring anything new to the party, seriously expensive
What is it?
This is the latest addition to the frankly baffling line-up of cars at Mercedes-Benz these days: an SUV that sits at the upper end of the size scale following Merc’s general A, B, C, E, S classifications. The EQ bit means it’s electric, the SUV bit means… well, you get it.
It doesn’t really look much like the GLE SUV, which would be its closest petrol-powered equivalent, but it does look exactly like all of the other EQ-badged SUVs with their slab sides and glossy scale-to-fit front ends.
And what’s it for?
A very good question, which probably should have been asked around four or five years ago when something could have been done about it. It’s got executive vibes about it – it’s largely, luxuriously trimmed inside and has plenty of space in the back. But then if you want a fancy car to be driven around in, surely an EQE or EQS is a better bet? Or the larger SUV option, the EQS SUV. Like we said, baffling.
It could make a nice electric family car, but then it is very nattily trimmed, and the £90k–£120k price bracket is… punchy. But someone in the Mercedes product department must think the EQE SUV will sell. If you’re sitting in the sparsely populated intersection of the Venn diagram of family buyers looking for a premium 2.5-tonne SUV with around £100k in their back pocket, then great.
What flavours are available?
There are two powertrains, which in the UK are both four-wheel drive using e-motors on the front and rear axles. The 350 4MATIC is a 288bhp/564lb ft beast, dashing from 0–62mph in 6.6 seconds, while the 500 4MATIC produces 402bhp/633lb ft for 0–62mph in 4.9s. Both are limited to a 130mph top speed.
The entry-level model gives you the most range at 334 miles, falling to 301 for the higher-trimmed cars with bigger wheels. For more on the (unsurprisingly) generous equipment levels, take a look at the Buying tab.
How does it drive?
Well, it drives. You know, all the stuff you expect a car to do – it accelerates, stops, goes round corners. Mercedes insists the EQE SUV does all this in a 'sporty' way, but it doesn't. Turn too enthusiastically into a corner and you feel the car fighting against its own weight, though not through the steering wheel, which offers grainy feel.
The rear-wheel steering gives more assertive turn-in with up to 10 degrees of lock at the back that shrinks the car’s turning circle from 12 metres to 10 metres. Less successful is the standard air suspension, which manages to smother out bumps well enough, but leaves you feeling a bit seasick on windy roads.
The EQE SUV is a large car, with a high front end that blocks your view of the road, not helped by the gargantuan slab of dashboard ahead of you. And the weirdly tiny windscreen means that the Hyperscreen display almost rivals it for real estate – you’ll be using all of the onboard cameras and sensors to perform your manoeuvres.
Is there any interesting stuff on the car?
To be fair to Mercedes, there’s been a lot of effort put into the car’s efficiency (short of slimming down by 700kg or so) – aero trickery, tech fanciness, etc. The front axle has a clutch on it, for instance, so that it can be disengaged when not needed and doesn’t put any drag on the drivetrain.
You also get a heat pump as standard to minimise winter range loss, and there are lots of little touches such as serrated metal flaps ahead of the front wheels to make them more aero efficient. All of that adds up to efficiency of 3.1mi/kWh, worst case. Check out the Driving tab for more detail.
Does the EQE SUV have any rivals?
Like we said, it's niche in the extreme, this. Volvo's new EX90 seven-seater will be a contender when it arrives, and there's the BMW iX if you don't mind horrifying your neighbours. Or the Audi SQ8 e-tron if you really must splurge six figures.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
We’re not sure what to make of the EQE SUV: Audi does a good job of making its electric cars feel like normal ones, while BMW’s iX offers space age drama and a fresh thinking on luxury. Both of them manage this while being significantly cheaper.
There are also better electric family cars in the Mercedes range (the EQB, for instance) and better electric luxury cars (the EQS saloon). Heck, even the plug-in hybrid S-Class is looking like a bargain right now.
On the plus side, the EQE SUV is solidly built, drives well (as long as you restrain yourself) and offers decent range. But are those words that make you want to drop six figures on one? Not on your nelly. Two or three years ago it might have brought something to the table, but the game's long since moved on.