You have to give credit where it’s due and Mercedes-Benz deserves just that when it comes to electric vehicles. Similar to a couple of other luxury manufacturers such as Tesla and BMW, Mercedes has really come on strong with building all-electric vehicles; they have six to be exact! And why not when it seems electrified vehicles are the future.
In the past many months, I’ve been able to drive the all-electric EQS, EQS SUV, and EQB; and just recently, I had the chance to drive the new EQE 500 sedan, the younger sibling to the EQS. How is it? Let’s find out.
The Mercedes EQS sedan, when launched, was the flagship electric vehicle for the manufacturer. Maybe MB’s thought was go big or go home for their first EV. While the EQS has amazing performance, it’s design is another story. Most who have seen the vehicle can’t believe it’s a Mercedes as their designs have normally been really good. Yes, the look is polarizing.
The EQE, while sharing similar design cues to the EQS, is much more pleasing to the eyes. Personally speaking, it looks great from the front and rear, especially with the small rear lip spoiler. Some may find the front fascia a little odd, looking bland, blank and black. But if you have the car in white, like we did, the black fascia works. From the side profile, the EQE is sleek, with a high arch at the middle and sloping windshield and rear window. Thankfully the wheels are 19” which is a nice balance for efficiency and looks. The door handles for the EQE can be finicky at times; most of the time, they pop out when you approach the vehicle. That being said, if you locked the EQE with the key, the door handles need to be touched to open, sometimes taking a couple of touches.
The inside of the EQE is much more pleasing than the exterior when asking the masses. It looks like what you’d expect from a Benz interior; there’s plush, leather seats, open pore wood, and pleasing panels all around. The only thing I’d knock is that unlike Benz’s from before, the lower panels on the doors are hard plastic; while they may look good, they aren’t like those from yesteryears.
The front seats are super comfortable, complete with heating and cooling functions. They are roomy and you could drive this vehicle for hours if you wanted. The rear seating area, however, is not up to par if I’m being honest. It’s not so much that the headroom is lower because of the sloping roof; it’s more that the seat cushion is slanted, with your hip being lower than your knees than you’d expect, and that from a Benz. Around town, rear passengers shouldn’t complain. But on a drive longer than 4 or so hours, they will become tired. In comparison, the rear seats in the Genesis G80 are much more comfortable and passengers at the back enjoy more leg and headroom.
The EQE 500 has a massive panoramic glass roof that lets a lot of light into the vehicle when the sunshade is open. During fall, winter and spring months, it really shows off the interior of the EQE.
Another area where the EQE shines is technology, and there’s lots of it. There’s a 12.3” driver’s display that sits behind the steering wheel and a 12.8” OLED touchscreen display, and boy is it ever crisp. This next generation MBUX infotainment system uses something Mercedes calls “zero-layer” strategy, meaning you don’t need to go into submenus and such to control aspects of pretty much anything. It takes some getting used to but really works like a charm. And yes, it supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What’s more is that you can simply say “Hey Mercedes” and give the vehicle a tonne of commands from making phone calls and adjusting temperature to using navigation and media functions. While it’s not as easy as when Michael Knight talks to KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand from Knight Rider for you young folk), it’s pretty good. All this being said, I think Mercedes should have used the new 56” Hyperscreen in the EQE like they do in the EQS; it’s not even option in the EQE.
One final note about technology, and something I really like, is that almost all aspects of both screens can be controlled by steering wheel haptic control “buttons”. Yes, some have said that having a volume and tune knob would be great, but it’s not a deal breaker in any sense of the word.
Now to the fun part of this Benz – the way it drives. The EQE 500, as one would expect, is plenty darn fast. Equipped with 402 horsepower and 633 lb-ft of torque, this baby runs from stop to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds. And if that’s not potent enough for you, there is an AMG variant that will do the same run in around 3 seconds, so you better grab a racing helmet! Power goes to all four wheels for maximum traction and for our Canadian seasons, it handles like a dream.
Our test vehicle came equipped with active rear steering. At lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction as the front, making parking and tight turning super easy. At higher speeds, the rears turn in the same direction as the front, allowing for better agility and control. I had a similar system on my 1992 Honda Prelude Si 4WS, and trust me, this type of system is very handy.
The EQE handles superbly on the roads and at all speeds, it’s comfortable and quiet. I actually enjoyed driving this one over the EQS as it just seemed like the right size for me. At times, the suspension did feel stiff – most cars today have stiff suspension – but it never took away from the driving experience. The EQE also has advanced torque vectoring technology; if the car feels there is understeer when cornering, it will automatically apply brakes to the inner wheels while applying torque to the outer ones.
I’ll say it again here, I really enjoyed driving the Mercedes EQE. While I’ve been more inclined to enjoy SUVs, here’s one vehicle I could drive every day.
The 2023 Mercedes EQE might just be the perfect EV sedan for the brand, having three variants to choose from: the EQE 350 starts at a very reasonable $85,600; the EQE 500 at $95,000; and the EQE AMG at $121,500. Thus, there’s an EQE for almost everyone.