Merc’s superior EQE SUV – what difference an E makes – Irish Times
In the 1980s, we were worried that all cars would look the same, as everyone rushed to follow Ford’s aerodynamic look for the Sierra (although the original Sierra was actually more angular than it later became, but let’s not pick on 1980s Fords here). .
This concern then shifted to platform sharing, the concern that if all cars from a brand or group of brands were built using the same components, they would all drive the same, and so our automotive world would become dull. And less interesting.
Well, Mercedes has finally and completely put that worry to rest. Under the skin, this electric EQE SUV is essentially the same as the larger, more expensive and more luxurious EQS SUV we recently tested. However, driving is completely different, and in the best ways possible. In doing so, it mainly reflects the comparative performance of the EQS and EQE saloons. The larger EQS is somewhat more upmarket, has a more practical boot and a roomier back seat. The EQE is a little cramped in the back, but it’s more fun to drive.
In fact, if the space in the back of the EQE saloon is not enough for you, your children or your collection of geological samples that, for some reason, need to be carried regularly, the EQE SUV is the panacea you have been looking for. You get the same battery, the same electric motor for rear-wheel drive (unless you add more for all-wheel drive or one of the hi-po AMG versions), and basically the same dashboard. What you gain is lots and lots of back space.
If you can convince passengers to leave the comfort of those back seats and fold them flat, you’ll have 1,675 liters to play with
The EQE saloon is a bit narrow at the back, and has small rear windows that don’t let in much light. The EQE SUV is the exact opposite – offering plenty of leg and headroom, large windows, and our test car was equipped with an expensive sliding glass roof to give you more natural light. The rear seats are wonderfully comfortable, flush with the front seats, and there’s – just – enough room to seat someone in the middle rear seat (although the folded-away armrest will constantly push them back).
The shoe is not particularly bulky. At 520 litres, it’s outdone by the smaller, more affordable Hyundai Ioniq 5 or, more in line with Merc’s price tier, the 569-litre Audi Q8 e-tron. However, it’s not really a problem, as the EQE SUV’s boot is square, flat and quite useful.
If you can convince passengers to leave the comfort of those rear seats and fold them flat, you’ll have 1,675 liters to play with. Plus, unlike the EQE saloon’s closed boot, you can put pets back in there, so at least my dog was grateful. The only downside is that, unlike the EQS SUV, there’s no option for an extra row of seats.
At the front, the dashboard is similar to that used in the EQE and EQS saloons, but set slightly higher. There’s a large expanse of mottled black plastic trim that runs the width of the cabin, bookended by impressive circular air vents that resemble turbojet engines. It’s a shame that this big plastic panel is creaky and cheap in places — press your finger into a corner and it’ll crunch like cardboard — and the row of touch-sensitive buttons below the main screen doesn’t feel much more expensive. If you’ve experienced a Mercedes before 1995, or after 2011, this will seem like a letdown.
Unless you really need the extra seats, skip the EQS SUV and get one of these instead
Other aspects are better – the gorgeous leather trim atop the dash, the excellent touchscreen leaning on the center console, and the view out there (even if it’s somewhat obstructed by the large windshield pillars). I’m less interested in the touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons, which feel sleepy at best, uninterested at worst; The main instrument screen is a bit large for the hole in the steering wheel, so you have to pick and choose which parts of the screen you want to see.
Under the flat floor is a 90.6 kWh (usable) battery pack, allowing the EQE SUV to enjoy a maximum range on a charge of 544 km. In fact, some models claim to be capable of 590km, depending on market and specifications, but I’d go with 544km because (a) it’s enough, and (b) it’s quite realistic.
When going over bumps around town at low speeds, the inertia of this moving weight causes an annoying head-throwing motion from side to side.
In fact, even with a lot of time spent on the highway, with the air conditioning running, the EQE SUV seems to be able to cover at least 500 kilometers on a charge. If you’re mostly cruising around town, you’ll likely outgrow this demanding 544km. Even its average electrical consumption was less than 20 kWh/100 km, which is impressive for something this large and heavy.
Being big and heavy is what kills the larger EQS SUV. It’s so big, so heavy, that it’s impossible to enjoy driving it on anything other than a big, empty highway. On such roads, the long EQS feels like a business jet. On narrower, smaller roads, it’s more like a garbage truck.
The EQE SUV, as mentioned, uses the same basic chassis, the same basic suspension components, and our test car was equipped with the optional €2,969 air suspension, bringing it in line with the EQS SUV. However, it feels much better, nicer and sweeter to drive. While the EQS SUV feels like it’s at sea on a twisty road, the EQE SUV does that classic Mercedes thing of feeling a bit aloof and distant at first, then reveals itself to be very precise and poised when a bit of a challenge really presents itself. Corners.
The best Mercedes cars get better and better the more difficult the dynamic questions they ask, and the EQE SUV does just that. It’s true that the brakes could be sharper, and it’s also true that the obese 2.5-ton weight ultimately reminds you that the laws of physics have strict limits. Also, when going over bumps around town at low speeds, the inertia of that weight moving around causes an annoying motion of throwing the head from side to side. Apart from that, the EQE SUV offers an advanced dynamic class.
It’s outperformed by the pointier BMW iX in corners, but by the heavy and boring Audi Q8 e-tron.
If you’ve encountered a pre-1995 or post-2011 Mercedes, this will seem like a letdown.
The final downside? the design. Yes, Mercedes engineers have done wonders by giving the long and wide EQE SUV a drag coefficient of just 0.26Cd (better than the much smaller Toyota Corolla, although that Cd figure doesn’t take into account the frontal area, which is a whole lot) another layer of… The math can be waded through) but the design wrapped around those hard points is disappointingly bland. The EQE saloon has a certain sense of dash with its ‘single-arch’ roofline and low-slung styling – the SUV looks like a kind of apologetic puff.
If this is the only real penalty, consider it worth paying. And unless you really need the extra seats, skip the EQS SUV and get one of these instead. Of course we prefer the salon, but where will the dog go next?
The lowdown: Mercedes-Benz EQE 300 SUV
power: A 180-kilowatt electric motor with a 90.6-kilowatt-hour battery generates 245 horsepower and 550 torque that drives the rear wheels through a single-speed automatic gearbox.
0-100 km/h: 7.6 seconds
Emissions (car tax): 0 g/km (120 euros)
Electricity consumption: 17-21 kW/100 km (WLTP)
Ranges: 544 km (WLTP)
price: €114,309 as tested. EQE SUV starts at 98,780 euros
Our Rating: 4/5.
Verdict: It’s still big and bulky, but it’s much better to drive than the larger EQS SUV. Excellent range on a single charge too
(tags for translation)Mercedes-Benz