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The EQE brings Merc's full-EV know-how to the E-Class segment. We take an early drive.
Standard equipment on AMG Line Premium Plus:
Driving Assistance package (inc. lane keep, blind spot, emergency stop and evasive steering assist), heated front seats with memory, split/fold rear seats, head-up display, traffic sign recognition, 12.3in digital driver display & 12.8in centre infotainment screen, augmented navigation, Burmester surround sound stereo, six USB-C ports & wireless smartphone integration, parking sensors with 360-degree camera, electric sliding roof, ambient lighting, air quality package, 21in alloy wheels.
292hp RWD, 626hp AWD
AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus, Exclusive Luxury
After a sluggish start in 2019, Mercedes-Benz now offers a decent range of full EVs. This includes a trio of SUVs - the EQA, EQB and EQC - plus the large EQS SUV "coming soon". Then there are two saloons - the EQE and EQS - and even the EQV minivan.
Last month Business Car tested the seven-seat compact SUV EQB and this month comes the EQE executive saloon. As the sensible naming strategy hints, the EQE is a similar size to the combustion-engined E-Class, but sits on a dedicated EV platform that allows for different proportions. The EQE is 11mm longer, 54mm wider and 43mm taller, but with a 181mm longer wheelbase (3120mm). This significant latter figure creates 80mm more interior room overall and a great feeling of spaciousness throughout, helped by a dashboard set back and leaning towards the windscreen rather than wraparound and cocooning like a sportscar's.
The EQE has a short front end and a softer silhouette compared with a traditional long-nosed saloon needing to house a combustion engine underneath. But in this instance, to these eyes, the result appears a little droopy from some angles (although its dot-matrix covered grille and flush door handles add back some sophistication). This sophistication continues in the EQE's cabin which feels high quality and looks high-tech. While the full-width hyperscreen is not an option on UK-spec EQEs, the 12.8in centre infotainment screen rising up from the centre tunnel is still a smart alternative and offers 'over the air' updates. The test model driven was pre-set to project navigational directions from a triple choice of view - the 12.8in centre screen, 12.3in digital driver cluster and the head-up display - which was a bit overwhelming, but fewer map-and-arrow options can be programmed in, and fairly easily on the move. This is a good sign.
The EQE's 292hp 350+ version we drove will likely represent the UK fleet sweet spot, offering rapid acceleration of 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and a range of 356-394 miles according to trim. An all-wheel drive 626hp AMG EQE 53 4MATIC version is the only other UK EQE available and is capable of a supercar-baiting 3.5-second 0-62mph plus a range of 322 miles. But presuming such behaviour will not be great for your company image, the 350+ is the one to choose for business.
Driving the EQE 350+ in left-hand drive on a variety of French roads gave the car a chance to show off its swiftness, agility and ride manners (all decent) and despite its near five-metre length, it also felt easy to place in tight city streets and up slim hill passes. Halfway along the journey the car even recommended a 'wellness break' - via the Energising Comfort feature (also on the 2020 E-Class facelift). After a press of a virtual button on the centre screen that display proceeded to show calming - but not distracting - digital art animations, subtle scent wafted out of the vents and the seat base massage function gently kneaded my upper thighs. All in all it was a surprisingly soothing experience, but one that won't be available to your drivers unless they choose AMG Line Premium Plus or Exclusive Luxury trim, where the feature is standard (it's not even a cost option with other trims).
The EQE's min/max luggage capacity is 430-895 litres, which compares reasonably well to the EQE's main electric saloon rivals - the Porsche Taycan (491 litres min) and Tesla Model S (793 litres max) - but the EQE only has a traditional boot lid opening, unlike the Model S's more practical 'lift-back'. The EQE sits in a similar price bracket to the Taycan - starting at £76,450 for the 350+ AMG Line and although prices for the EQE 53 AMG 4MATIC have yet to be announced, we predict they will start well north of £100,000 in line with the Taycan Turbo and its broadly similar power.
Comparing the EQE to these two competitors further, the Model S offers greater range (396-405 miles) and is a more conventional beauty, and although the Taycan provides less range than the Merc, it offers greater power and performance at each model price point within a better-resolved design. The EQE is not a bad car, far from it, but Porsche and Tesla offer better EV saloon options. Despite those downsides, Mercedes' trump card might well be that its UK operation is set up to cater to fleet customers.
Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ AMG Line
Residual value: 47.9%
Service, maintenance and repair: £5,118
Cost per mile: 80.43p
Range: 356 miles
CO2 (BIK%): 0g/km (2%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £25/£50
Luggage capacity: 430 litres
Engine size/power: 292hp electric motor with 90kWh battery