Mercedes correctly maintains the future of the E-Class is fully electric, and its new EQE is the foretaste of Stuttgart’s long-term EQ brand of fully electric cars to eradicate ICE engines. Unlike the less expensive GLB that swaps out ICE engines for a raft of batteries to make an EQB, the fully electric EQE and EQS are both brand-new cars using new platforms, maximizing the new EV’s battery utilization.
Two questions immediately come to mind. Firstly, does the EQE look better than the traditional E-Class saloon? It is an individual choice, but for me, the EQE’s truncated rear proportions, aft of the rear axle, is where the design is less successful against the EQS flagship electric’s “one-bow” design feature.
A more subjective view is how disappointingly the front grille’s treatment loses the trademark Mercedes-Benz imposing proportions that have been the core DNA of the brand down through the decades. The EQE doesn’t get the solid light bar across the grille a la EQS. It’s also a smaller car than the EQS with a wheelbase that’s 90 millimeters, so the truncated proportions aren’t some trick of the eye as it’s nearly as tall as an EQS but slightly wider. As a comparison, the EQE is a similar size to the rakish and svelt CLS coupe-saloon. The additional space is evident inside the cabin, adding gains of 80 mm more cabin space, including 27 mm shoulder room and the boot capacity set at 430 liters. Mercedes has opted to fit the EQE with a boot, unlike the bigger EQS with a hatch. Space is more generous inside, with front and rear passengers finding the additional space a bonus if they’ve been E-Class loyalists and can stretch out better, particularly in the sloping rear seats.
Mercedes continues its successful run of cabin designs now taken one step further in the EQE and the sweeping dashboard design incorporating a dominant digital instrument cluster behind the wheel and a large tablet digital touchscreen that’s steeply curved into the cabin’s console and complimented with a driver’s front digital binnacle behind the steering wheel. It’s only when you touch and prod around the cabin itself does the disappointment arise, with some of the parts feeling hollow sounding without the expected granite thud or thunk of a six-figure priced car.
Secondly, the test car I drove crept past the €100,000 (in Europe), which, not so long ago, was the same pricing landscape that the S-Class roamed. That’s a lot of money for an ostensibly fully electric E-Class, and that’s a hefty price in anybody’s car budget. Once you come to terms with both of those challenges, the EQE’s main highlight is the solid 641km electric range. So often, the claimed WLTP EV ranges are off – or fantastically over-estimated if you’re being objective – by up to 20 percent when immersed into actual driving conditions. Not so here.
Get moving in the EQE, and a definite spring in the car’s step from the 292hp battery thrusts the car forward with 565Nm torque in virtual silence. The EQE was exceptionally quiet on the subject of silence, and tire noise suppression was excellent. I’ve tested ultra-luxury cars that isolate you from the world outside, but the EQE proved one of the finest noise canceling experiences at this – just around a €100,000 gee whiz price. Mercedes nails that remit fully.
The EQE’s range lasted me a full week without needing a recharge while adding the proviso that most of the driving was in the city and away from motorway hauls. The battery capacity is 90 kWh with a claimed 641 km WLTP in the EQE 350+ AMG Line model I drove, which equates to 400 miles.
In summary, the EQE is a superb luxury EV. Yes, the price point is high, and the exterior design will appeal to some more than most. These remain questionable foibles rather than an argument not to consider buying one. To properly raise the traditional E-Class’s game with a car that is better in so many ways means Mercedes can take the deserved applause – the EQE is one giant step for the E-Class.
Model: 2022 EQE 350+ AMG Line
Price: €85,980 total in Ireland €105,131 as tested
Range: 641km WLTP
Engine: Electric motor 292hp, 565Nm Torque
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 6.4 seconds, Top speed of 210 km/h
Verdict: Merc’s mini-EQS scores highly with solid real-world EV range; tomb-like silence on the move. Looks remain an acquired taste and plush cabin skips a beat for perceived solidity. Overall a quantum leap for the E-class.