The Mercedes-Benz EQE is the new all-electric alternative to E-Class – but can this new model convince luxury car loyalists to make the EV shift?
In seemingly no time at all, Mercedes-Benz’s full-electric ‘EQ’ range has thoroughly packed the showroom dancefloor. Latest queuing at the bar is the EQE sedan which, in simple terms, is your all-electric alternative to the E-Class.
With so many Benz EVs launching in quick succession, it’s easy for a model to get lost in the line-up. But this EQE deserves to be noticed.
Its big brother EQS sedan stole headlines as history’s most aerodynamic production car (0.20 Cd), but good luck finding the roughly $340,000 to drive-away the sole AMG 53 variant on sale in Australia.
This EQE is your compact alternative – think Tesla Model S proportions – and with less mega-yacht pricing than an EQS.
An entry-level EQE 300 is $134,900; an EQE 350 $154,900 and supercar-quick AMG EQE 53 is $214,900, all before on-roads. EV range (WLTP) is strong: 508km, 462km and 435km respectively.
All three variants were on hand for us to test at a soggy Victorian launch, giving us a decent introduction to the EQE, albeit without the deep dive we’ll get on more extended tests.
EQE is the second model (after EQS) based on Benz’s EVA2 electric architecture, meaning packaging can be planned without the need to consider a combustion powertrain.
Next to an E-Class it’s 23mm longer, 54mm wider and has a 181mm longer wheelbase. Interior length’s up 80mm too.
In the metal it’s a polarising thing. It feels wind-tunnel-obsessed aerodynamicists out-muscled Benz’s artistic designers.
This reaps range rewards as its drag coefficient is a superb, slippery 0.22 Cd, but its short overhangs, “one-bow” line profile and massive wheelbase won’t be to everyone’s aesthetic tastes.
The EQE 300 and 350 have a quite uninspiring black panel “radiator grille”, but the AMG 53 introduces chrome vertical struts for improved visual clout.
Flush door handles are lovely, but from the side there’s a strange shut line leading from the A-pillar as part of a sealed bonnet. An awkward external flap here to fill your windscreen washer doesn’t help matters.
In better news, micro mirrors in the LED headlamps produce 2.6 million illuminated pixels, so your front light show’s suitably spectacular. The rear features 3D helix design LED lights with boot-crossing light band, plus a cute little rear spoiler.
For starters, all EQEs come standard with Benz’s AMG Line styling. Sportiness has taken precedence – it’s not one for the pipe and slippers E-Class buyer of old – so even the entry-level EQE 300 rolls on 20-inch rims.
Inclusions are lengthy, so we’ll stick to key elements. Keeping things easier, the EQE 300 and EQE 350 have identical specifications. What your extra $20,000 brings is a motor over the front axle as well the rear, making the 350 all-wheel-drive and upping its performance.
Standard Inclusions EQE 300 / 350:
Extra Standard Inclusions, Mercedes-AMG EQE 53
Said infotainment is a (gulp) $15,600 option, bringing a curved screen unit stretching almost from A-pillar to A-pillar. Its three screens sit under a glass cover and appear to merge into one.
Our test EQE 53 was fitted with it, and while visually magnificent, it’s hard to justify the cost. The standard 12.8-inch fitted screen is already a mighty and impressive unit, and the Hyperscreen is almost too overwhelming and, dare I say it, distracting.
It includes a screen in front of the passenger, but if all they can enjoy is seeing the navigation map in front of them, or controlling music choice, it’s hard to see the value.
The EQE 53 can be had with AMG ceramic composite brakes, bringing giant 440 x 40mm ceramic discs and bronze calipers for an extra $9100.
There’s an expected ‘Benzness’ to the way all EQEs drive. The 300 and 350 do the refined, measured EV job very well. Their lush, comfy cabins have minimal sound intrusion, while power delivery is rapid enough without ever being properly fast.
The EQE 53 is, of course, a madly different animal. Its 460kW and 950Nm take care of the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.5 seconds – proper supercar quick.
For the clinically insane, an AMG Dynamic Plus package for an extra $7400 offers (when temperature and range remaining conditions are met) 505kW and 1000Nm. This now sees the 100km/h arrive in 3.3 seconds thanks to a Race Start launch control.
The bulk of buyers will, of course, be heading down the EQE 300 and EQE 350 paths. The single-motor 300 is no speed demon, but as with all EVs, there’s a punchy nature to its power delivery. In town, there’s ample instant shove as 550Nm of torque’s unleashed in one hit.
On paper, there’s a fair performance leap in the EQE 350 with its 215kW and 765Nm dual motor setup.
It hits 100km/h in 6.3 seconds versus the 300’s 7.3 seconds – it feels quicker, yes, but not $20,000 quicker. With the same specification as the 300, unless you insist on all-wheel-drive, it’s hard to make a case for the extra spend to get into the 350.
Money’s better spent, in my opinion, on optioning the $3800 air suspension that’s standard fit on the EQE 53. This Airmatic suspension with adaptive damping replaces the steel coil suspension found in the 300 and 350 as standard, and can lower settings by up to 15mm.
None of our test 300 or 350 cars had it fitted, but the way the far more performance-orientated EQE 53 exhibited better all-round ride quality than the others suggested it would be a savvy investment.
Ride quality in the 300 and 350 was generally very good, but some road imperfections were felt more acutely than in the EQE 53 with its air suspension. Bumpy corners had the 300 and 350 jolting sideways on occasion, not helped by a kerb weight around the 2400kg mark.
Even despite this hefty mass, the EQE exhibited decent balance, minimal body roll and reasonable eagerness to change direction.
The 300 and 350 are not what you’d call exhilarating driver’s cars, but there’s a quality, assured feel to the experience and all that weight low down means it handles really well. These cars’ occasional comfort slip-ups I’d hope would be cleaned up by that optional air suspension.
That’s based on us driving the EQE 53 last. I was expecting to suffer some sharp hits in this performance belter, but contrarily, it immediately felt the more measured on the ride front. Brilliantly comfortable actually, soaking up bumps with real class.
We had a decent ribbon of bitumen to haul this AMG version along, and despite wet roads its grip levels on Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres and superb handling were mighty impressive. In Sport+ mode the steering, too, felt razor sharp.
Acceleration is mega, sucking the blood from your face as you’re pinned in the sport seat.
On our greasy test roads only one-third throttle was needed (and sensible), yet even then the rate of progress seemed impossible for such a heavy thing. This, of course, becoming the norm for performance electric cars.
Thankfully, the traction and stability electronics proved first rate, not getting overly nannying but also keeping things measured between the lines.
The EQE 53 is fun enough with its speed and ability to feel smaller than it is when scything through turns, but it won’t be mistaken for a darty little sportscar.
You’ve a range of fake electronic noises to choose from. The 300 and 350 are best suited to beautiful silence for serene cruising, but I was quite taken by the EQE 53’s “Powerful” sound from the menu, which I can only describe as cosmic throatiness.
Regeneration in all the EQEs isn’t aggressively harsh, but does spoil the smooth drive party. It’s best to turn it off entirely when on the open road, and flick the paddles to maximum regen for town use.
The EQE’s braking feels unnatural when shifting between regen and human-led force, again giving you cause to switch off the energy harvesting.
Lavishly impressive. There’s no need for that Hyperscreen as you’re already spoiled on the digital screen front – one for your driver display, then a portrait-orientated infotainment unit that blends into the floating centre console.
As you’d expect for its price, the EQE 300 is no poor cousin when it comes to cabin luxe. Front space is mighty, with the sense of vastness helped by the dashboard in front of the passenger being a single, sloped panel with only a round air vent at its edge.
The dash and door tops – with ambient light adding flair – have a strange but not unpleasant feel to them. No doubt crafted of eco-recycled material, the best I can describe it is like a soft dolphin skin without the slipperiness.
The sports seats offer an excellent, high driving position and the leather trim throughout is superb. Build quality is hard to fault, with the only letdown being a too-plasticky feel to some of the very few cabin buttons.
The panoramic roof boosts cabin light, but not as much as the optional white interior on our test car. Spectacular when new and unmuddied, but it’d be a brave family buyer who’d option it. Pure white floor mats and kids’ boots are not a happy mix.
The EQE’s sloping back compromises rear visibility, but more disappointingly, if you expect to have rear passengers, is how it eats into rear headroom.
As a six-footer the side of my head was resting on the edge of the ceiling, while forward visibility’s quite obscured due to the one-piece sport seats up front.
Leg room’s very good in the back and there are vents and two USB-C ports, but seats are quite firm and upright, and sat in the middle my head was on the glass roof.
There’s no question, this feels like a very expensive interior. The digital driver display is superbly customisable and the head-up display offers ample information.
It takes a lot more time to get used to the steering wheel controls and all the menus and options available through the central screen. Your steering wheel has a sea of swipey buttons for the likes of cruise control, menus and volume, and it’s easy to make mistakes.
While the giant centre screen means the rest of the centre console and dash are super clean and minimalist, it is distracting to prod your way through infotainment menus to delve into the likes of climate control.
A separate marked-up digital panel helps, but the MBUX voice recognition system, for the most part, is the way to go for the simple life.
Boot space isn’t the EQE’s strong point when you consider its 430L is well below the equivalent E-Class’s 540L.
Charge cable bags in there (there’s a tyre repair kit below the boot floor) also eat into space, and unlike the larger EQS, the EQE has a fixed rear window and boot lid rather than a liftback tailgate.
As you’d expect, the EQE 53 adds more specialness for your dollar. Nappa leather’s the sumptuous upgrade, while proper carbon fibre panels – the mighty centre console cover especially – are seriously racy.
Being EV-only, the EQE’s cabin storage is vast. A rubber pad for wireless phone charging will fit any phablet you can muster, while under the floating centre console is space for iPads and even laptops.
It was awarded a maximum 5 stars from Euro NCAP on its 2022 test, which will be translated to 5 stars for our local ANCAP rating.
It scored 95 percent for adult occupant safety, 91 percent for child occupant safety, 83 percent for pedestrian protection and 80 percent for safety assist. All stellar figures.
Safety inclusions are comprehensive. There’s a total of 10 airbags, while the Driving Assistance Package Plus has Benz throwing the full suite at all EQEs.
Key inclusions are:
During our testing, we saw an average energy consumption of 20.2kWh/100km (EQE 300); 21.1 kWh/100km (EQE 350); and 26kWh/100km (EQE AMG 53).
Benz’s official figures are 20.1, 22.5 and 23.5 kWh/100km respectively, showing we were getting close to claimed.
As we spent much of our test on highway or country roads (and not much in urban traffic where EVs prove most efficient), it appears the range figures are trustworthy. We’d need extended tests to confirm, however.
Owners should invest in Mercedes-Benz’s Wallbox 2.0 for easier and faster home charging. It has an AC charging output up to 22kW (you’ll need three-phase power), has smart Mercedes-Me app integration, and boasts Wi-Fi capability for over-the-air updates.
This wallbox will set you back a chunky $2475 plus installation, but EV charging habits suggest the vast bulk of owners will charge their EQE at home.
So much so, Mercedes Australia has dropped its complimentary Chargefox public charging subscription for its new EV buyers. We’re told low usage rate from customers was behind the decision.
It means you’re at the mercy of whatever charge costs a public DC fast charger asks, while home chargers must work out their own electricity costs depending on what the energy company charges.
Of course, owners with solar have the opportunity to dramatically cut their charging costs.
For those who do need a rapid charge, Mercedes claims the EQE adds 250km driving range in 15 minutes using a DC ultra-rapid charger, thanks to a maximum 170kW charge rate.
Warranty’s an industry average five-years/unlimited kilometres. And while EVs are supposed to have cheaper running costs due to their simpler drivetrains, Benz still asks $2950 for a five-year service plan for your EQE.
As a first taster of the new EQE range there’s plenty to impress. Standout is cabin technology and luxury, with massive, expensive-feeling specification on all models, but it’s priced accordingly. No cheaper entry-level model ostracizes some buyers.
The drive experience also hits Benz benchmarks for classiness, although occasional ride quality issues would have us ticking the air suspension box in the EQE 300 and EQE 350.
The latter doesn’t offer the performance improvement to justify its $20k price jump, while for proper EV performance you need the EQE 53. It’s a certified acceleration monster, but without the raw thrills found in a petrol-burning AMG product.
Merc’s EQ electric range is ever-expanding, and when it comes to EQE, this sedan will no doubt be utterly shaded sales-wise when the EQE SUV version arrives later in the year.
The Electrified G80 sedan will join other electric Genesis vehicles later this year, and our initial drive suggests this is one to get excited about
Key specs (as tested)
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