The EQE is essentially a slightly smaller version of the EQS, and you shouldn’t need Columbo’s detective skills to work out it’s Mercedes' electric E-Class equivalent. Big potential range, ample performance, fine luxury, and rich tech all combine to make for a compelling new offering for drivers looking for a rounded business saloon.
The EQE uses the underpinnings of the EQS flagship saloon, but makes it shorter, which means the EQE is denied the EQS’s biggest battery offering. But the 90kWh battery that nestles between the axles of the EQE is still enough to allow it a potential range of up to 395 miles between charges.
That’s aided by the EQE’s slippery ‘one-bow’ design, which looks, somewhat unsurprisingly, like a scaled down version of that EQS. Nothing wrong with that, really, and the EQE’s looks are suitably futuristic enough to stand out from the traffic, which is difficult these days when you’re not in an SUV.
Fear not, SUV fans, as there will be one of those, in time, with both the EQS and EQE getting their own SUV versions for those who appreciate a slightly higher driving position and the idea, if not necessarily reality, of more practicality.
Battery and Range
The EQE’s 10-cell 90kWh battery might be smaller than the EQS’s 107kWh, but the EQE’s smaller dimensions and lighter weight means it’s able to squeeze as much as 410 miles out of its battery on a full charge. That’ll be for its most efficient EQE 300+ version, which makes do with a single motor on the rear axle, as does the EQE 350+ – the latter being the only model available at launch.
Depending on trim and wheel size, the EQE 350+ is claimed to achieve anywhere between 356 and 394 miles on a full charge. A realistic real-work expectation would be between 320 and 360 miles, and to achieve those impressive figures Mercedes-Benz’s engineers have thrown their not inconsiderable technical arsenal at the EQE.
There's clever battery management able to pre-heat or cool the battery to the correct temperature to ensure that when it requires a charge, it’ll do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Plug into a rapid charger and the EQE can accept a boost at up to 170kW, which isn’t as rapid as some, but Mercedes-Benz says it’s enough to allow the industry benchmark 10%-80% charge in around 32 minutes, or take on about 155 miles of range in about 15 minutes. AC max charge, meanwhile, is rated at 22kW.
Mercedes suggests using the intelligent navigation for route planning, even on familiar journeys, because it will always seek out the most efficient route for the EQE, and assist with planning for charging stops.
It works in conjunction with the driver and safety aids, as well as traffic data to best calculate all this. There's also three stages of brake regeneration including 'intelligent recuperation' which uses the car's sensors, cameras and sat-nav data to brake automatically. When we tested the car in congested streets in Frankfurt, we often didn't have to touch the brakes at all.
Usefully, Mercedes claims to have taken all the hassle out of charging via an EQ specific Me Charge app, which allows plug and go charging at over 300,000 points across the UK and Europe.
Power and Performance
Walk into a Mercedes-Benz dealer and the only EQE you'll be able to order is the 350+. It gets a 282bhp electric motor powering the rear wheels and offers a good blend of punch and efficiency, with 0-62mph taking 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 130mph.
The 350+ will likely be the pick of the range and it's no surprise Mercedes is launching with this model. To bring the entry-price point down, a 300+ will be added in due course with less power from its rear-wheel-drive motor, but likely a higher electric range.
If the 350+ isn't quick enough then performance fans will have to wait for the Mercedes-AMG EQE 43 4Matic, which will push out 469bhp from its twin electric motors, and the 617bhp EQE 53 4Matic+. The latter can even be boosted to an incredible 677bhp if the AMG Dynamic Plus Package is selected.
Other European markets will also get a 500+, but this is unlikely to arrive in the UK
Practicality and technology
Its shape might look like it’s a hatchback in profile, but the EQE is actually a conventional saloon - unlike the bigger EQS, strangely. The proportions, and the position of the battery under the floor, allow for good interior space with the EQE boasting more room in the rear seats than the E-Class saloon.
The EQE's saloon format does mean the boot access is slightly compromised, as is the boot space itself, which at 430 litres is more C-Class than E-Class in its capacity. There are folding seat backs for through loads, though, should you need them, but there are no plans to add an EQE estate to the range. For a hatchback tailgate, you'll have to wait for the EQE SUV that's set to arrive in 2023.
You sit quite high in the cabin, which aids that feeling of airiness and space, with the slim backs of the front seats meaning those in the rear also benefit from a good view forwards. The cabin design is pleasingly neat, with a wrap-around line atop of the dash and plenty of configurable ambient lighting. It feels luxurious too with soft leathers (on the higher trim levels) and real wood inlays used, and suitably modern with its twin screens.
The central infotainment screen is easy to use, packed with equipment and is aided by a voice activation system that actually works. The £7,995 'Hyperscreen' available in the EQS – which turns the entire dashboard into a single glass surface and features three screens – won't be offered on the EQE at launch, but we expect it to be added at a later date.
We got behind the wheel of the 350+ and even within the first 100 metres of pulling away, it's clear the EQE shares a lot with the EQS. It's unbelievably quiet and has the refinement of a car costing rather more than £76,000. Our car was fitted with large 20-inch wheels and it was only these that interrupted the near complete silence while driving. There's barely any wind noise at motorway speeds; even the electric motor doesn't whine or make itself heard.
Along with the large 20-inch wheels (standard on mid-spec AMG Line Premium), our car also had air suspension which gave a supple around town and on the motorway. On twister roads, though, we found ourselves prodding the 'sport' button to firm up the suspension as it was a little too floaty.
The 350+ feels plenty fast enough. It doesn't offer rabid acceleration of a Tesla Model S or a BMW i4 M50, but it's more than quick enough. The steering is nicely sharp and reactive, and the EQE can be hustled along very nicely.
The EQE is a cruiser at heart, though. While you can choose between light and heavy brake regeneration, the 'intelligent recuperation' setting needs some refinement to prevent the head bobbing as it constantly adjusts. It's a clever system and couple with the soft suspension and near-silent noise levels inside, the EQE is generally a very refined car to drive.
Value and equipment
The EQE certainly isn't a cheap car, but nor would you expect it to be. Prices kick off at £76,450 which puts in a strange middle-ground between the smaller BMW i4 and the older (currently unavailable) Tesla Model S, but there is plenty of standard equipment.
There's no entry-level Sport version found in lesser Mercs with the range starting at AMG Line. That gives sporty body styling, 19-inch alloys, a panoramic roof, a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and the 12.8-inch central infotainment screen. Heated front seats, two-zone climate control, dark 'lime wood' trim, 'man-made' leather upholstery and 64-colour ambient lighting also feature.
AMG Line Premium kicks in at £81,450 and adds a couple of extra goodies such as 20-inch wheels, ambient lighting with more options to play with and a driving assistance package. AMG Premium Plus, from £88,450 adds massive 21-inch wheels, air suspension, Digital Light (each light cluster has a one million pixels for better vision), augmented reality navigation and a high-end Burmester stereo system. Top spec Exclusive Luxury does away with the sporty bodystyling and features Nappa leather and 'ship's deck open-pore walnut wood' for the dashboard.
The mid-size Merc fills a bit of a gap in the electric car market, is superbly refined, and has impressive efficiency. The low tax rates mean it will be a popular choice with company car drivers too, who can't wait for a Tesla Model S - or simply aren't allowed one. But is a saloon what buyers want? While the EQS is a hatchback, the EQE has to make do with the less useful four-door format. That could steer many buyers back to SUVs, which is a shame.