The new EQE SUV is probably the closest Mercedes have got to maintaining the traditional personality of their combustion cars on a machine that runs solely on electricity.
Talk about being on trend. We could not be more on it this week if we tried: an electric SUV, the kind of car every manufacturer wants to build, and every customer wants to own nowadays.
At the upper levels of the market – such as the one where Mercedes operate – this does not mean everybody ends up buying one, but it is undeniable that the focus of the market towards electric cars, combined with the 15-year-long appetite for SUVs that has been rendering saloons and estates almost obsolete, makes this kind of cars all the rage at the moment.
The EQE SUV is the SUV interpretation of the EQE saloon. It is built on the same Electric Vehicle Architecture and displays the honour of being the most aerodynamic SUV the brand has ever built, with a drag coefficient of just 0.25.
It boasts a very organic shape, without any sharp edges or unnecessary aesthetic creases, in a modern reimagination of the biodesign language that made a brief appearance at the beginning of the century.
The EQE is also a big car at 4,863 metres and 2580kg and it never feels smaller or lighter, no matter in which conditions it is being driven. This is obviously not a car for keen drivers, but instead aimed at those looking for those things more often linked with Mercedes-Benz: comfort, quality, technology, safety and prestige. The EQE SUV completely lives up to all of those expectations.
The model I tested was the 350+, the entry-level version – although it doesn’t seem accurate to call it this, as there is nothing remotely entry-level about this car. It is supremely refined, with a rolling smoothness a petrol-engine machine this side of a Rolls-Royce has never achieved. There is no buffeting, no vibrations, no wind noise, nothing.
Driving the EQE SUV is primarily about enjoying all that comfort. There is a little fun to be had if you play with the paddles and try to maximise range by managing the three regeneration modes, which can really make a difference and get you some extra kilometres but, realistically, this is about being mobile in a more sustainable way and you will have to drive much slower than what you are probably used to.
The steering is quite unnatural and brake pedal feel is really rather weird. The EQE would make for a great daily driver, but, even with 292 horse-power, it is not an exciting machine. I’d still like to have something petrol-powered in the garage for a little weekend fun. Maybe that is a realistic vision of the future for petrolheads, who knows?
This is the first electric Mercedes that uses a disconnect system. At low speeds, in Eco and Comfort modes, the front motor disconnects itself in order to gain 6% more range by minimising mechanical drag losses. Incredible tech. But there is more: instead of a regular air-con nit, the EQE has a heat pump – gaining another 10% in average consumption when the system is being used.
The 89kWh battery has a maximum homologated range of 596km and can be charged at 22kW on a domestic AC wallbox and at a maximum of 170Kwh on a DC Rapid Charger. An important fact is that I got the car with an indicated range of 623km (yes, more than the manufacturer says the car can do) on a fully charged battery and drove it for 430km, with the info from the EQE being that I still had 120km left to go. It’s not the 623km I was promised, but it is much closer than most electric cars achieve and just 46km below the maximum Mercedes announced for the 350+ version. Impressive.
Inside, it’s business as usual for a three-pointed star vehicle. Fit and finish a cut above the rest, quality materials everywhere and all the gadgets you can think of.
Standard fit is a 12.3in digital instrument display and a 12.8in portrait infotainment touchscreen. The press car had them and they worked fine, with excellent graphics and a very fast response rate. I would prefer some functions were controlled by physical buttons (and I see them returning in the near future), but assuming everything must be digital in the EQE, it is pretty intuitive.
I definitely prefer the two-screen standard layout to the optional Hyperscreen, a 56.0in that occupies the whole dashboard and just seems a bit out of place in something that is not stationary all the time.
At the end of the day, the €92,000 you need to begin thinking about taking an EQE SUV home are not for everyone. And that is how it should be, I suppose, because a Mercedes at the cutting edge of technology must always be an exclusive machine.
This is a car that answers today’s questions with a calm and serene confidence and, should the infrastructure around it allow it, it can make for an easy and satisfying transition from fossil fuels into electricity.
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