The fully electric Mercedes-Benz EQS is one of the most sublime cars on the road today, an understated exterior wrapped around a sumptuous interior, with all the finesse you’d expect from an S-badge Merc with the effortless acceleration of an EV and great ride quality to drive. start. The flagship EV is simply very good.
It is also very expensive, large and exclusive.
Fortunately, there is now a more affordable option – well, at least slightly cheaper. Welcome to the Mercedes-Benz EQE: an all-electric sedan that’s about a foot shorter, is 230 ponies less powerful, travels 45 miles less on a charge and, crucially, costs $30,000 less.
Despite all that, don’t call this a downgrade.
The EQE is a perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t quite need the size, performance or that little extra reach of the EQS.
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If there’s one thing wrong with the EQE, it’s the looks. Where the EQS is slightly bulbous yet stately from the outside, the EQE is anonymous from front to back.
It’s not a bad looking car by any means, basically a nine-tenths scale version of the EQS, but with its amorphous profile it just disappears into a parking lot.
The detailing on the nose looks fresh; the three-pointed star sits boldly and centered in a radiant field of stellar echoes, an arrangement far more attractive than the fake grilles found on many other EVs.
However, it’s all downhill from there.
The way the lines run from the convex headlights to the stubborn taillights with a crease in between doesn’t do much to get the juices flowing.
In any case, there’s a good reason for the anonymity: the EQE has a remarkable drag coefficient of 0.20, giving it a remarkably good EPA-rated range of 305 miles in the EQE 350+ rear-wheel drive configuration.
The more powerful all-wheel-drive EQE 500 you see here still doesn’t have official EPA numbers, but under ideal conditions it shouldn’t be too far off. During my testing, I averaged 2.0 miles per kilowatt hour, which would mean a theoretical maximum range of 180 miles from the 90 kWh battery pack, but my conditions weren’t ideal. This EQE not only came on winter tires, which generally give a range of 10 to 15%, but also during extremely cold weather with icy and often wet roads. Your mileage should be much better.
That inconspicuous exterior is in stark contrast to the interior.
It might be a few steps away from the general opulence of the EQS, but you’d hardly notice it.
The EQE 500 you see here has the AMG Line interior package ($2,100), which means sport seats, a racer steering wheel, some extra branding and the contrasting red seatbelts.
There are also generous Alcantara and microfiber surfaces throughout, which match beautifully with the Black Linden wood on the dashboard. That, plus the stunning turbine vents, make for a clean, modern, beautiful dash.
That multi-function sports steering wheel is a bit busy, with numerous capacitive touch surfaces controlling everything from cruise control to instrument cluster modes. Unlike the thumb control on the Volkswagen ID. 4, everything is well separated here and easy to use without looking down. I never found myself switching the wrong controls. Only the headlight buttons are a bit awkward, hidden under the dashboard on the left, but are so precisely automated that I rarely had to worry about them.
If there’s one drawback here, it’s the volume of the room.
Inside, the EQE can feel a bit cramped. The way that ultra-stylish dashboard drops in just makes things feel a little claustrophobic, and while there’s plenty of headroom in the front, it’s a little limited in the rear despite the panoramic glass roof.
The legroom is in any case reasonable and all seats are comfortable. Even if there isn’t much room to move, you won’t feel much of a need to squirm. Massaging up front gives all the more reason to settle in and enjoy the journey.
There’s decent storage space, with a huge compartment under the center console and also a generous pocket in the armrest. The trunk is narrow but still offers 15 cubic feet of storage space, higher than the 13.1 in the E-Class sedan.
Swimming in tech, assistance and safety features, the EQE starts out front with the excellent Digital Light LED headlights, a $1,100 option. They’re incredibly bright with flawless auto-dimming and a host of surprisingly fun extra features. For example, they paint an arrow on the asphalt when changing lanes on the highway and even mark the road markings if you start to stray from your lane.
The EQE you see here doesn’t have the epic Hyperscreen dash, with displays running virtually the entire length of the dash; I didn’t miss it.
This car’s 12.8-inch center display is still generous, while the 12.3-inch instrument cluster is remarkably feature-packed. You will not lack information.
Nor customization. The EQE is one of the most tweakable cars I’ve ever driven. At your disposal are a myriad of driving modes, endless colors of ambient lighting, three fake engine sounds, five instrument clusters (each individually customizable), eight seat massage routines, flexible charging rates and times, four regenerative braking levels, and even a trio of individual HVAC modes, so you can you can prioritize driving distance versus convenience. It can be a bit overwhelming, but I love that you can make this car drive exactly the way you want it to, and Mercedes’ clean MBUX interface makes it all easy. And yes, there’s wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too.
In terms of safety and assistance features, the standard suite of features on the EQE offers almost everything you could want, including front and rear automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise, which ensure the vehicle maintains a safe following distance and is within range stays. the speed limit.
The lane-keeping and adaptive cruise systems are extremely good. The EQE remains rock solid in its path and flows smoothly with the traffic. If there’s anything missing, it’s sort of a hands-off mode like you’ll find in some Cadillacs and Fords, but it’s coming – eventually.
The EQS isn’t a sports car and the EQE largely follows the same template. However, with 402 horsepower and 633 pound-feet of torque in this EQE 500 4Matic, it certainly accelerates like one. In Sport mode, the EQE is eager, its acceleration paired with one of three slightly silly but fun fake engine sounds.
The car’s comfort-tuned suspension is a bit on the soft side and the car pitches and rolls like a dinghy through corners, but even on Pirelli Sottozero winter tyres, it had plenty of grip. Meanwhile, the ($1,300) rear steering system makes everything a lot livelier than it otherwise would be, and also allows for impressive U-turns. You never have to worry about a three-point turn again.
The smart choice
You can get in a rear-wheel drive EQE 350+ for $74,900. However, this one came out a lot higher. The base price of the faster, more powerful EQE 500 4Matic is $88,000. Add in all of the options listed above plus a few more, such as $1,750 for the red paint and $1,620 for the beautiful basswood, plus a $1,150 destination surcharge, and you have a configured price of $104,470.
For that money you could get yourself into a basic EQS, but then you’d have to start the options game all over again. For me, a well-equipped EQE is the smart choice. It ticks all the boxes for what luxury electric motoring should be today, while pointing to a bright future of calm, cosseting, zero-emission motoring.