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Behind the Wheel of Mercedes-Benz's Newest Electric Vehicle, the EQE

Behind the Wheel of Mercedes-Benz's Newest Electric Vehicle, the EQE

Mercedes' newest EV is hugely impressive

  • The Mercedes EQE is the second long-range electric vehicle to come from the historic luxury automaker.
  • It offers the style and luxury of the EQS sedan for less money.
  • Our first drive of a European-spec model gives us high hopes for the U.S. version.

Until relatively recently, buyers looking for a long-range, high-performance electric vehicle have had few choices outside the Tesla Model S. That's changed over the last few years, with legacy automakers finally getting in on the action. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, is quickly ramping up its electric offensive. We've already tested the EQS large sedan, and we recently had the opportunity to drive a European version of the new midsize EQE at Merc's winter testing facility in Sweden.

Available on sale later this year as a 2023 model, the sedan will launch in the U.S. in the single-motor EQE 350 form, followed by the dual-motor, high-output AMG EQE. Other markets will also get EQE 350+ and EQE 500 4Matic variants, with Mercedes' AMG performance unit producing an AMG EQE 43 to slot under its version of the AMG EQE (called the AMG EQE 53 in other markets).

All-new electric platform

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE

Unlike Mercedes' first modern electric effort, the B-Class, the EQE has been developed without the compromises of squeezing electric motors and batteries into a structure designed for an internal combustion engine. The battery is situated under the floor, low and between the wheels, with those wheels pushed far out into the car's corners to improve interior space.

Utilizing the same, albeit shortened, EVA2 electric vehicle architecture platform as the EQS, the EQE is fitted with a 90-kWh battery that is smaller than the pack in its larger counterpart. That is still enough, in its most efficient specification, to allow a range of around 410 miles on a full charge according to the European WLTP standard, which uses a different testing procedure than the EPA. (EPA range estimates are generally lower.)

Its overall shape, described by Mercedes-Benz as "one-bow" styling, is defined by its need to be as aerodynamic as possible. It's not surprising then that it looks like a smaller version of the EQS, which follows the same design ethos. There's no front trunk, as Mercedes-Benz instead uses the front area for an optional HEPA filtering system to clean the air coming into the cabin. Luggage space is limited to the rear trunk, though the 15.2-cubic-foot capacity will be sufficient for most customers, and the rear seatback folds for longer load-through capability if required. 

A spacious, rich interior

Though the EQE is more compact than the EQS, it is still quite spacious inside, and especially so when you compare it against the E-Class. The cabin's design certainly gives you the impression of vastness, but the wheelbase is also half a foot longer, resulting in measurably more room. It's also finished in high-quality materials and is rich in tech.

The EQE features a digital instrument panel and a large portrait-oriented screen in the center console as standard. We find that the MBUX infotainment system is neatly arranged and simple to operate. This particular variation is loaded with EQ-specific features in relation to energy use, charging and route planning, along with the more usual vehicle, connectivity, info and entertainment functions.

Naturally there's the upgrade to up the screen count to three via Mercedes-Benz's optional Hyperscreen. This vast 56-inch display incorporates three screens — twin 12.3-inch OLED screens for the driver and passenger as well as a 17.7-inch central display — across the near entire span and curvature of the dashboard. MBUX also features a robust list of voice commands, online music streaming and over-the-air updates.

While it's undoubtedly striking, it's arguably technology overkill, particularly in the U.S. market, where some of the features — such as the ability for the front passenger to watch video/internet content on a screen in front of them — aren't possible while in motion.

Exceptional refinement

Even after you consider the space and quality of the materials, once moving the EQE reveals a serenity that only amplifies the overall impression of luxury. Without the noise of an engine to contend with, Mercedes-Benz's engineers have worked tirelessly to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) to good effect. The structure has acoustic dampening foam injected into hollow areas in the 100% recycled steel body, and the slippery shape it presents to the air not only helps with efficiency but also reduces wind noise. Even the tires are filled with foam to reduce road noise.

It works, too, with the silence apparent even at high cruising speeds on the hard-packed snow and ice surfaces on our test drive. Our drive doesn't just reveal impressive sound suppression but also fine ride quality on the optional air suspension. The same serenity is evident on surface streets too.

Power and grace

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE

We had our first turn behind the wheel in EQE 500 4Matic guise, which we won't get in the U.S. A zero-to-60 mph sprint in this model is estimated to take 4.5 to 5 seconds, compared to the claimed 5.6-second time of the EQE 350 and 3.2-second time of the most potent AMG EQE.

Put your foot down, and the EQE 500 4Matic feels brisk as opposed to startlingly quick, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's the smoothness of the power delivery that is its defining characteristic, adding to the impression of effortless luxury. Even so, Mercedes-Benz's engineers say that, in developing the EQE, the goals were to make it more sporting than the similarly sized and gas-powered E-Class alternative.

On the low grip of Mercedes-Benz's winter facility, the chassis certainly exhibits a balance and poise that's enjoyable. Comfort mode keeps all traction settings in their safest modes, while Sport allows movement but fine control. Our test vehicle's optional air suspension and rear-wheel steering — which turns the rear wheels up to 10 degrees — aid the EQE's agility and low-speed maneuverability significantly. We'll reserve making detailed impressions of its dynamic ability until we drive it in U.S. spec and in more conventional conditions and surfaces, but initial impressions are very promising indeed.

Charging potential, maximum range

Good range is useful, but it's the capacity for quick recharging that makes long-distance road trips possible. Mercedes says that the EQE 350 can charge from 10% to 100% on a 240-volt outlet in 9.5 hours. Plug it into a DC fast charger and the EQE can accept up to 170 kW, which means you'd get from 10% to 80% in as quick as 32 minutes.

There's plenty of opportunity to manage the battery's power via automatic driving modes, with multiple energy recuperation levels or coasting possibilities quickly accessible via the steering wheel paddles. Pull the left wheel-mounted paddle to D- for one-pedal driving, with D+ allowing the EQE the potential to glide. While the opportunity is there to be as involved as you want to be, the automatic settings — which use the EQE's vast array of driver aids, convenience and safety technology to best use the battery power — make the journey effortless.

Edmunds says

It's taken a long time for established automakers to bring their fully electric contenders to market, but after our time with the EQE, the wait appears to have been worth it. Embracing electric propulsion but applying old-world engineering integrity and testing has yielded highly impressive results. The EQE feels every inch a Mercedes-Benz, but one that happens to be powered by electricity, opposed to internal combustion. We look forward to testing a U.S.-spec model in more representative conditions than our brief, early test here. First impressions of Mercedes-Benz's EQE are very positive indeed and suggest that the company's resolve to switch to full electrification is very much on track.

Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE

Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE