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Long-term review

Mercedes EQE 300 - long-term review

£68,810 OTR /£87,040 as tested /£820 PCM
Published: 23 Apr 2024

Living with a Mercedes EQE 300: wants to be your butler, but it's a bit... inept

I’ve worked it out. The EQE would like to be Jeeves. It’s your personal butler, wants to do everything for you, make it as easy as possible. Every time I get in it greets me with “welcome Oliver Marriage”. There’s a faint wobble in the voice, like it’s speaking underwater. I press the button and tell it I’d rather be Ollie. It can’t deal with that. In fact there’s an awful lot it struggles with. And herein lies the problem: this particular Jeeves is a bit inept. The kind that would stumble with a tray of drinks or use brown polish on black shoes. The horror.

Now, Mercedes is no worse than anyone else in this regard. Voice recognition systems are uniformly haphazard, driving assistance aids are all entirely myopic. But the EQE, above and beyond most other electric cars, is designed to do as much as possible for you. That’s its remit: make life easy for the commuting exec. Out come the door handles when you walk up, on comes the light display as a million headlight pixels broadcast waterfalls on to the road, up comes the ambient lighting and whooshing noises. This peacocking display feels like it's been designed to convince you the car is semi-sentient.

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So once I’m underway, I’ve been inclined to let it have a stab at things. Some of that has been good – the intelligent brake regen is decent, it picks its way round jams well (not Waze well, but the in-built nav links usefully with range and charging info so I’ve been using it). And provided you drive to IAM standards, you can have the assist systems on and they barely even interfere. I know this because we used the EQE for driver training with the AA recently.

But that’s not the point is it? I don’t always drive with an ex-traffic cop called Carlton in the passenger seat gently coaching me out of my errors and issues. I drive like everyone else, in a rush and slightly distracted. Then I need the EQE to do more of the heavy lifting. But the result is amateurish. None of these car systems is remotely – remotely – as capable of knowledgeable road positioning as the average takeaway delivery scooter. Even if the approach to braking is largely the same. Binary inputs, folks. 

It only takes one or two slips where you can easily see an approaching issue and the car doesn’t, to lose faith in the butlerish systems. To be fair I’ve driven two cars recently, Kia’s EV9 and the Volvo EX30, which are far more infuriating, with near constant bongs to pay attention, but I wanted – and I’m sure Merc intends – the EQE to be the soul of discretion and sophistication.

I’m not sure they could’ve done much better with the driver assistance – they can only see what’s immediately around them. However, two other things should have been sorted out, the ride and the seats. This is meant to be a cossetting, long range electric cruiser. But the seats are flat and firm. You don’t sink into them, they don’t hold you in place. Ergonomically they seem to be pretty decent, but you want them to give you a hug. The dearly departed Rangey was brilliant at that, the Merc isn’t. The massage function is clunky too (it just tilts the seats about a bit to mobilise you). Unfortunately, upgraded seats are only available on the flagship Exclusive Luxury model, you can’t option them elsewhere.

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Geeks like me talk about primary and secondary ride. Let’s call them cushioning and fidget. This Premium Plus rides on Airmatic adaptive dampers (lesser ones don’t). Suspension insulation is good, so it’s very quiet and the cushioning is OK. But because it wears an AMG badge Merc couldn’t help themselves and even in Comfort mode it’s a little bit short in its movements when it ought to be more languid.

Air suspension tends to struggle more with nullifying the sudden fidget of potholes and joints, but that trait is exacerbated here because the Premium Plus wears broad 21in wheels with skinny 35-profile Pirelli P Zeros. There’s a little too much commotion. It doesn’t give itself enough of a chance to ride well. And those Pirellis are hopeless in the cold when dealing with this much weight. Braking on mucky country lanes is a jittery ABS-fest.

How much weight exactly? Well, some 70kg less than claimed weight on our Intercomp scales – 2462.5kg. But that’s not what I want to leave you with. Let’s talk fuel costs. Before Christmas I drove the diesel Rangey to Newcastle and back on a single tank. That cost me £127.64 to refuel. Just did the exact same trip in the EQE, which needed two charges away from home, plus an overnight when it got back home. Those three top-ups cost £126.15, making the EQE precisely as economically efficient as a 2.6 tonne luxury SUV. And I’m afraid to say I enjoyed the journey more in the big diesel Rangey.

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