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Long-term review

Mercedes EQE 300 - long-term review

£68,810 OTR /£87,040 as tested /£820 PCM
Published: 15 May 2024

Whisper it quietly, but... the Mercedes EQE 300 isn't very comfortable

Have a look at the EQE in profile. Notice how long the wheelbase is? How far to the extremities the axles have been pushed? Have another look – it really is quite remarkable. There’s 3120mm between the centrepoints of each axle. That’s enormous – the diesel Rangie that this replaced was 100mm longer overall, yet had a wheelbase 100mm shorter. The EQE has a longer wheelbase than an S-Class.

That helps in two main ways – it maximises cabin space, especially for those in the back, and it improves the ride – with more weight centralised you’ve got better control of it, and more time to regain composure between wheel strikes.

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But everyone who travels in the back of the EQE has the same complaint. The seats are quite bucketed. They tip your knees up, close your hip angle. It’s not very comfortable. And there’s not actually that much legroom. Maybe it’s because the driver is positioned too far back, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’d like to have a look under the bonnet to see if that can help explain things, but Merc doesn’t permit me too. Opening the bonnet is a job for a Mercedes service centre. All I can do is pop out the screenwash filler on the front wing.

Where has all the cabin space gone? It’s not in the 430-litre boot, that’s for sure. On several occasions that has been found wanting. A BMW i5 offers another 60 litres – and don’t forget that’s a car built on a platform that serves both electric and combustion options. The EQE is a big car, I can’t figure out why the packaging is so compromised.

Off we went for a family day out to Bath. And the EQE became a conversation piece. Conversation was easy because it is very, very smooth and quiet. On motorways you can easily spot the advantage of its long wheelbase. The ride is level, calm and lulling. It would put people to sleep, if the seats were softer and more enveloping. We talked about the other EQEs I’d had at home recently, a 300 Sport on smaller 19-inch wheels and a maximally sportified 616bhp AMG 53.

The Sport rode delightfully, and was a little more efficient than mine on its narrower, higher profile tyres. Mine’s on 35-profile Pirelli P Zeros, sporty tyres that are really not suited to the heavy EQE. Unlike the 300, the EQE 53 has the power to get out of its own way, but in every other respect, I’d have mine. The 53 is a poor sports saloon. It does speed but nothing else. It also comes with the infamous Hyperscreen. I could have had one for £6990 but it’s not an upgrade. It’s just a giant slab of glass with several screens behind it. This means there’s no screen edge to brace your fingers against, so jabbing the touchscreen is a lottery.

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My EQE’s regular central screen is pretty good by the standards of these things, I can find my way around it now and it responds reasonably well to jabbing – better than it does to either voice commands or the steering wheel’s left hand swipe pad. You do have to swipe the slick plastic for volume, cruise control and the dash screen. A glance away from the road is required every time, because you almost never get the response you want. Stuck record time: bring back the clickwheel.

On the way home we talked safety. Everyone else in the car gets nervous when the driver starts fiddling with the touchscreen. So the passenger gets involved. But then everyone asks how you do it when you’re in the car by yourself, and you have to tell them you hope the adaptive cruise control and lane keep don’t stuff up. Touchscreens have become coffee break conversations (no-one’s in the pub anymore). Everyone has a story and none of them are positive. We can’t fiddle with phones on the move, so why is a dirty great big one is the right way to interact with your car?

And breathe. Because then it was Easter and the EQE’s central screen and phone app both popped up with cherry blossom graphics to wish me happy holidays. Which made everything better. Look, I appreciate the gesture Mercedes, but I’d much rather you spent that time and money figuring out how to make your cars easier to interact with.

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