Mercedes-Benz EQE overview
The new Mercedes-Benz EQE is another step in the German firm's journey towards electrification. As with other EQ-badged models, the 'E' tells you that this is an electric car in the same segment as the E-Class executive saloon. However, under the skin, the EQE has more in common with the larger EQS electric limousine than it does with the combustion-engined E-Class.
Initially, the first EQ-badged electric Mercedes, the EQA, EQB and EQC SUVs, shared their platforms with their combustion-engined counterparts. But that changed with the EQS and subsequent EQE, which both use a dedicated EV platform called EVA. Hence, while the EQE is still a four-door saloon, it has a unique look when compared with the Mercedes E-Class.
The shape of the EQE is designed to cut through the air, while the layout of the electric powertrain means interior space should be on a par with the E-Class, even though the EQE is lower-slung.
At launch, the most affordable version is the EQE 350+, although Mercedes has already revealed two high-performance AMG 43 and AMG 53 models, the former of which is now available to order. The EQE 350+ gets a 292hp and 530Nm electric motor driving the rear wheels. This gives the car a 0-100km/h time of 6.4 seconds, while the 90kWh battery offers a WLTP-tested range of 637km.
Upgrade to the AMG 43 model and there are two electric motors, one on each axle, for 4Matic four-wheel drive, and maximum outputs of 476hp and 858Nm are on tap. This means the AMG 43 can sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds, but since it has the same 90kWh battery as the EQE 350+, maximum range is shorter, at 531km.
We must admit that we're not entirely won over by the car's appearance. How it looks really depends on where you're standing. From dead ahead it looks pretty good, but from the side it's less impressive, with a stumpy front end that counters the kind of long bonnets that have so often marked out Mercedes of old. The rear end isn't very strong, either, especially when the EQE is fitted with smaller wheels; Mercedes has clearly sacrificed the car's appearance in favour of aerodynamics.
It's the details that really help the EQE to stand out, though. The bonnet is incredibly low, for example, to cut through the air, and it's a proper clamshell design, too. The digital lights up front are impressive, as well, and we think the EQE is one of the most interesting EQ models to look at, even more so than the EQS.
The most obvious rival for the EQE is the Tesla Model S, the car that launched the electric executive class. Elsewhere, the Porsche Taycan and closely related Audi e-tron GT offer a sportier drive than the EQE, but that's about it for all-electric rivals. If you're not quite ready to go fully electric, then there are plug-in versions of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 to consider, as well as Mercedes' own E-Class
The Mercedes-Benz EQE model range
Irish pricing for the Mercedes-Benz EQE starts at €85,980, and there are just two versions currently on offer in Ireland. That starting price is for the EQE 350+, while the faster, more powerful EQE AMG 43 is available for €122,640. However, it's just as easy to breach the six-figure mark in the standard model by adding options. Not that you really need to, because the EQE is pretty well equipped as standard.
There's a 12.3-inch high-definition driver's display that's accompanied by a 12.8-inch central touchscreen. This runs the latest version of the Mercedes MBUX multimedia software, and features a fingerprint scanner that allows drivers to set up a bespoke profile that can be triggered with a scan of the finger.
Automatic climate control, LED ambient interior lighting and heated front seats with four-way lumbar support are all fitted, while the tech on board includes wireless phone charging, full smartphone integration, adaptive cruise control that can adjust your speed according to the road ahead and connected services for live traffic and other information.
Add the optional Premium Package, at €12,129 extra, and you get active ambient cabin lighting, a suite of driver assistance features, 360-degree cameras, augmented reality directions for the navigation system and Mercedes' clever Digital Light adaptive headlights with high-beam assist.
Finance is available via the Mercedes Star Finance plan, and the latest offers can be found at the Mercedes Ireland website.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE interior
Inside, the EQE really doesn't need the (hideously expensive) optional Hyperscreen, as it's impressive as it is. There's a highly distinctive flattish dashboard fascia, a good portrait aspect for the sloped-back touchscreen and big instrumentation screen (which is very configurable) in front of driver.
The MBUX system has been improved, which is impressive when you consider that it was a rather good set-up in the first place. Fingerprint recognition might seem like a gimmick, but the system worked well when we tried it. It's the small touches that impress elsewhere: if you leave your phone charging when leaving the car, it pipes up with "Excuse me, you have left a phone charging" - remarkably effective and more human than another warning bong. Less effective was the voice command system, which seemed to struggle to understand our instructions.
Overall the EQE feels like a premium product, as you might expect, with high-quality materials used on the doors and dashboard. Up front, the centre console is high and has a big, covered bin under your arm. There's a lot of space underneath at floor level, too, with a retaining strap and USB ports. The two cupholders can be adjusted to open up and create even more room, where there are two more USB-C ports and a wireless charging pad that's located almost under the main touchscreen.
The front seats are great, too. They offer fantastic back support in the lumbar region and there's loads of adjustment in the wheel and seats to get comfortable - there's even an automatic system, which sets an optimum driving position if you input your height.
One quibble we have from behind the wheel are with Mercedes' haptic touch controls on the steering wheel - this isn't an issue solely with the EQE, though, because these same controls are found in the C-Class, E-Class and other Mercedes models, but wherever they're found, they're a fiddle to use when on the move.
The combination of our car's black upholstery and the big front seats mean there's not much of a view out from the rear, and the back seats feel a little hemmed in. However, there's loads of foot room and legroom in outer two positions. The middle seat is compromised, though, with a hump in the floor limiting space, while the seat itself isn't very wide, either.
At the very rear, the powered boot lid opens to reveal a decent 430-litre boot plus a small amount of space underneath to hold charging cables. The rear seats fold down (only from inside car) to make a flat floor with that of the boot.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE driving experience
On the road, the EQE emphasises comfort. While some rivals add fake sounds to deliver a sporty feel, the EQE is largely silent and in general is a smooth and quiet cruiser. The chassis itself is firm, but not uncomfortably so. It's very controlled and precise, and at speed it's comfortable for sure. Strangely, you can hear everything underneath the car, such as stones and dirt hitting the underside, but there's no wind or road noise present in the cabin, which is an odd sensation.
The car's main controls are impressive. There's a brilliantly calibrated accelerator in normal mode that offers super smooth responses. The EQE doesn't indulge in Tesla-style neck-snapping acceleration to annoy passengers, but if you keep your foot down, the acceleration rate increases. In Sport mode it's notably snappier in its responses, too, but is still smooth. The steering is good, as well, with a pleasant feel to the system that means the EQE is like a sports saloon or GT in the way it steers. One downside is that the car's low-slung shape is a bit too low for Irish country roads, and the car can bottom out over particularly high speed bumps.
The EQE's driver assistance systems are a bit keen to kick in at times, as is the anti-lock braking system, while the traction control is iron-fisted, noticeably so in the wet, where it doesn't allow any slip in normal mode and just a fraction in the Sport setting. This makes for a stable and secure drive in all conditions.
As with many other EVs, the EQE offers energy recuperation, but in its strongest level it's rather disconcerting to use, because it takes the brake pedal 'away' from under your foot, which feels completely unnatural. Most of the time we found the system works perfectly fine left in the mid setting where the pedal position remains constant.
One disappointment we had was with rearward visibility. The shallow rear screen offers a narrow view out, but fortunately the EQE's camera system is great. This includes a function when stopped at traffic lights that shows a widescreen view on the screen, making it easier to see the lights.
In terms of efficiency, we saw about 600km of range from a fully charged battery, while we averaged 19kWh/100km in mixed roads and conditions, although that was with little motorway running.
Our verdict on the Mercedes-Benz EQE
While the Mercedes EQE has a name that positions it as an electric E-Class, the reality is slightly different. It's smaller than the combustion-engined model, and if you adjust your expectations accordingly, then the EQE impresses. It's good to drive, has an excellent electric powertrain that is really very efficient and it has a decent interior that's packed with great technology. It's just a shame that it's so expensive when compared with the E-Class...