Amid rising prices and rampant inflation, it’s a German luxury car brand that has unknowingly done its part to buck the trend. At least for the wealthy elite.
Mercedes is rolling out a series of electric vehicles. The predecessor of the modern car will not be left in the parking lot as we go from petrol to plug.
The alleged flagship is the EQS, an all-electric version of the S-Class. But what we have here, the EQE, is a much better car for a slightly lower price.
What strikes us so subconsciously is that Mercedes managers are making noises about moving further into the higher segment. Mercedes has always been at the top of the premium car rankings, but now wants to dine with the luxury people.
The pursuit of volume was once de rigueur, even for premium players in the car industry: now it is declasse at Mercedes. The Germans have indicated that they will be content to lose low-margin sales rather than high-end models. Translated from business-speak to plain English, it sounds like prices are going to go up.
Against that background, it makes the EQE a surprising star. While this car starts at €85,980 – a spiral of upwards of €100,000 if you add in a few options – the larger EQS won’t leave the showroom until you’ve put down at least €130,000. Granted, that still won’t help many Ford Mondeo owners making the electric jump, but even the wealthy love to score a bargain when it’s offered to them.
For starters, this EQE is a great looking car, better proportioned than its bigger sibling and more coupe-like than you might suspect in its spacious cabin. Admittedly, the roofline falls a little earlier on the rear seat passengers’ heads than in the larger EQS, but there’s no shortage of legroom – both front and rear – for taller occupants.
Then there’s the latest range of tech, with Mercedes also offering its breathtaking hyperscreen dashboard as an option on the EQE, the full 55-inch engineering extravaganza.
In reality, the standard 13-inch screen fitted to our test car is just as impressive and more pleasing to the eye when driving in the dark. After riding the EQS with hyperscreen and now the EQE with the “regular” system, I would lean towards the latter and spend all the extra money on other options.
The EQE is powered by a bulky battery pack with 90 kW of usable energy storage, giving Mercedes the right to claim an official range of 641 km on a single charge. Yes Nissan Leaf owners, you read that right.
Although official figures often differ slightly from reality, I can confirm that the kilometers we covered within our range were about as fast as the distance we covered. I would expect it to be more than 500 km for most motorists. And if you can find an empty fast charger, you can add 250 km in just 15 minutes thanks to the EQE’s ability to charge 170 kW.
But if the electronic gadgetry grabs your attention and the all-electric range draws you in, the EQE’s driving dynamics will seal the deal.
That impressive battery pack powers 292 hp electric motors on the rear wheels, which can reach a time of 0-100 km/h in 6.4 seconds. It feels faster behind the wheel, but if you want more, you can opt for the 475 hp AME EQE 43 version, or wait for the AMG EQE 53, which promises to deliver 686 hp.
For those you opt for the 350+, you get a car that feels as fast as any Irish family driver needs, but with a poise and steering precision that makes rivals half-baked. Compared to the EQS, this car feels much tighter and more appealing to drive, not to mention the brakes feel much more positive and reassuring. The steering feel is the real star, up there with BMW and Audi in terms of engagement.
While the eco driving mode configuration is too drastic, both the comfort and sport modes deliver on their promises. The suspension setup isn’t nearly as glorious as the more expensive EQS, but it really shows up when you drive it into big potholes or off the top of poorly designed speed ramps. And you can always opt for the full air suspension option, which will solve all these problems.
The EQE is the goldilocks EV that many affluent buyers have been looking for. Powering cars with batteries involves an obvious trade-off. Use that stored energy to go fast or further. Mercedes has the mix here. While performance starts to decline as the speedometer ramps up, it certainly packs a punch, but at the same time it never puts a serious dent in that claimed range.
The biggest problem for the EQE is clearly the price. Even for owners of an E-Class – the equivalent model in the old fossil fuel range – a starting price of €86,000 and climbing seems a high demand. But when pitted against its rivals, this Merc is not an outlier.
All in all, the EQE is really impressive and the biggest surprise of this year, largely because we came to it after testing its supposedly more advanced sibling. It’s a true Tesla beater when it comes to quality and refinement, standing next to the Audi E-Tron GT as one of the best electric cars – in fact simply one of the best cars – we’ve driven in recent years.
Low: Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ AMG Line
Current: 90 kWh battery powering a 215 kW electric motor developing 292 hp and 565 Nm of torque, which powers a single-speed automatic transmission with rear-wheel drive.
CO2 emissions (annual motor vehicle tax) 0g/km (€120).
Claimed Range: 641 miles.
0-100 km/h: 6.4 seconds.
Price: €105,131 as tested, EQE starts from €85,980.
Our rating: 5/5.
verdict: A shining star electric car.