Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 review

Before its UK debut, we test Mercedes-Benz’s electric saloon.

Mercedes-Benz’s ambitions to challenge the Tesla Model S or Porsche Taycan in the EQE are now at top gear.

It is similar to the larger EQS and the second model to use the EVA electric car platform of German car manufacturer BMW. This makes it the sixth fully-electric Benz model produced since the EQC was introduced in 2019.

The new saloon is rear-driven EQS 350 with its single electric motor (90kWh battery) and claims a range of up to 410 mi on the WLTP test cycle. This figure Mercedes hopes to attract more customers to its rapidly-growing electric car fleet.

The EQE will likely be priced in line with the E-Class’s combustion-engine E-Class. It will also be sold in many Mercedes markets. In the UK, it is expected to start at about PS65,000, which is around PS25,000 less than the EQS450+.

The EQE will target electric competitors to the Model S and Taycan as well as the Xpeng P7, soon-to be launched Nio ET7 in China. China is Mercedes’ largest market for sales volume.

The V295, or the EQE, will be produced at Mercedes’ Bremen plant in Germany, and a factory operated in a joint venture in Beijing with BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation), its largest shareholder.

We’ll learn a lot more about the EQE when we drive it later in the year. But for now, it is clear that it is an attractive alternative to the E-Class, which it will eventually replace.

Pre-production is the description of the EQE 350 prototype that we saw when we visited Mercedes’ research and design headquarters. It is however clean and unadorned after the EQE’s September 2013 world debut at Munich’s motor show.

It is obvious that the EQS has a relationship with it by the blanked-off panel grille in black, tapered corners, clamshell bonnet and distinctive cab-forward silhouette.

However, it is more than a shrunken version of the EQS. The headlamps are different in their appearance. Our prototype uses Mercedes’ Digital Light Projectors as an option. The light band between the headlights of its luxurious counterpart is also absent. The EQE has a more curvature at the rear wheels than the EQS, which gives it a slightly more muscular appearance from certain angles.

The rear is where the biggest difference exists. The EQE has a traditional bootlid, instead of the large liftback tailgate that is used by the EQS. It also features a subtle tip-style spoiler and a full-width band of light connecting the tail-lights.

The new Mercedes model cuts through the air more efficiently than any other combustion-engine model with the three-pointed star. Smooth surfacing and developments like flush door handles and aerodynamically optimised 19- to 21-inch wheels, as well as a fully enclosed underbody with flat panelsling and an enclosed underbody to allow for smooth airflow, all contribute to the model’s smooth surfacing.

Oliver Rocker is the head of EQE Development. He won’t reveal yet the final drag coefficient, but he confirmed that it’s not quite as high as the 0.20 set by the EQS.

“With a lower roofline and a more rounded rear end it was going to be difficult to achieve a drag coefficient close to the EQS. Although we have done extensive wind tunnel testing, final numbers are still to be determined. He says it will be much better than the E-Class.

The EQE measures 4946mm long, 1961mm wide, and 1512mm high. It is 117mm shorter, 101mm wider, and 18mm higher than the fifth-generation E-Class saloon. It is 270mm shorter than the EQS and 35mm wider due to certification with different door handles. However, it stands exactly the same height as the EQS. The EQE has a shorter wheelbase at 3120mm than the EQS.

One EQE model has been confirmed, the rear-wheel drive EQE 350. This confirms a start to UK deliveries in the second half 2022.

It is the entry-level model to what will soon be an expanded range of rear- and four-wheel-drive EQE models. Two from Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance cars division are set to be revealed later in the month. The single-speed gearbox has three driving modes, Comfort, Sport and Sports+. Slippery mode is available for driving on wet roads.

A 90kWh battery provides electric energy. It can be pre-heated and cooled in a preconditioning process that ensures it is ready for the fastest possible charge. The EQE 350’s lithium ion unit claims to be capable of providing a range of up 410 miles using the WLTP cycle. It can be charged at up 170kW, which is 30kW less than the ECS. Mercedes-Benz claims that it can reach 155 miles in 15 minutes by charging it on a high-powered charger.

The EQE is supported by a standard steel suspension that has multi-link arrangements at both the front and back. Buyers can also choose an optional air suspension like the one we rode in.

What’s the experience like? The EQE is familiar and gives you a feeling of security. It’s because a lot, including the optional Hyperscreen digital dashboard and multi-function steering wheel with touch sensitive controls and wide, generously cushioned seat, feels familiar to the larger EQS.

The Hyperscreen houses the 12.3in digital instrument, 17.7in infotainment display, and a 12.3in display for the front passenger. They can view TV and videos, surf on the internet, and check vehicle functions while they are on the move.

It is impressive to see the different displays in bright and clear colors. The analogue controls are also very precise and well-balanced. The perceived quality and finish are as high as any Mercedes-Benz model.

Although the Hyperscreen is impressive, it will be a very expensive PS8000 option. The EQE also receives a digital instrument panel as well as a 11.9in portrait-style infotainment screen, similar to the one on the S-Class.

It is easy to see that the EQE lacks the EQS’s pure plushness. For example, the cushioning in the seats is more firm and the door inserts are simpler in design. It’s more businesslike and in line with the customer. It is high quality with extensive amounts of Alcantara, or Micro-Cloud fabric, as Mercedes-Benz calls it. High priority is given to connectivity, which includes a USB port that can charge up to 100W.

You don’t get the same sense of space in smaller EQSs, as you do with larger ones. The EQE offers far more space than the E-Class. The EQE offers a remarkable amount of legroom in the rear, with a seat height that is 65mm higher than the standard Mercedes-Benz saloon.

The boot space is 430 litres. This is 180 litres less that the EQS, and is somewhat disappointing considering the E-Class saloon’s 540 litres. The rear seatbacks can be easily lowered to increase load carrying capacity, even if they aren’t in use.

A HEPA filter is located underneath the bonnet, just like the EQS. There is no space for luggage in the front and the windscreen washer filler, like the fully-electric EQ flagship, is confined to the port located within the front left-hand fender.

We were not allowed to drive the EQE 350. We still managed to learn a lot, even though we didn’t have a steering wheel.

The EQS’s electric drivetrain runs just as smoothly as the EQS. The EQE is extremely quiet, even by the high standards of the most recent luxury electric cars. It produces very little noise under load, and also exhibits very low road noise levels at constant cruising speeds.

Extremely low levels of wind noise can also be caused by the EQE’s slippery shape. Although we didn’t have the opportunity to run on the autobahn for long periods, it was possible to cruise at normal speeds along country roads surrounding Mercedes-Benz’s R&D center. There was no evidence of buffeting, even in strong head winds. The prototype’s optional double glazing can partly explain this. It is clear that the new electric-powered saloon will offer the best in class.

This super-stiff body structure is the source of this remarkable refinement. The design is identical to the EQS, but it contains a higher percentage of steel. This gives it a much higher level of torsional rigidity that the E-Class.

There will be many EQE models in the future. This first one focuses more on providing a reasonable range rather than sprinting ability.

The entry point to the lineup is the EQE 350. Rocker says that while we think the EQE 350 delivers a great blend of economy and performance, it is not secret that there will be faster and more powerful models over time.

The driving mode determines how much torque the driver has at his disposal. Comfort gives you 80%, Sport 90%, and Sport+ 100%. The reserves in Slippery mode are reduced by 50%.

Rear-wheel-drive EQS 350 is quick to respond and accelerates well. Sport+ mode gives you an immediate feeling of acceleration, even though there is only one synchronous electric motor that propels the saloon at 2450kg. It is not as powerful as its four-wheel-drive dual electric-motor saloon competitors.

Mercedes-Benz claims that it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. So expect E450 4Matic performance. The smallest Tesla Model S model, the four wheel-drive Long Range, claims a 0-62mph time in 4.1sec, while the Porsche Taycan, which is rear-wheel driven, takes 5.4sec. The new Mercedes-Benz is capable of reaching a top speed of 131 mph.

The EQS also allows the driver to choose from three levels of energy recovery, D+ D or D- via the steering wheel-mounted paddles. The first mode sees the EQE move along without any mechanical drag. While the second sees it accelerate rapidly as braking force is applied, the former causes the EQE to pull up abruptly. The middle mode has been calibrated to replicate the characteristics of a conventional, combustion-engine model with a trailing throttle.

The E-Class has a lower centre of gravity due to the large battery that is embedded in the floor. Rocker can switch into Sport+ mode to push the EQE through tighter corners.

The new electric saloon isn’t big on its weight and size. Body movements are fluid and progressive. When lateral forces start to build, overall leanness can be well controlled.

The handling is very well-executed. This can partly be attributed to the quick reactions of both the standard variable damping system and the optional air suspension. The latter uses three-chamber plungers such as those on the EQS or S-Class for constant ride height adjustment.

This car is extremely agile, especially for such a heavy and large vehicle. The optional four-wheel steering system is responsible for this agility. It is available in two configurations: one with 4.5deg rear steer angle, the other with 10.0deg. The latter is said to give it a smaller turning circle than the C-Class.

The EQE has a lower wheelbase and a firmer damping, but it can’t match the exceptional ride quality of EQS. It still displays great compliance and provides excellent shock absorption on all surfaces, even on 295/40-profile tyres. It can occasionally jar on transverse ridges or expansion joints that are larger. It can withstand potholes and break bitumen well. This makes it an enjoyable and comfortable car to drive over long distances in.

Although we’ll need to spend more time at the wheel of the EQE before we give it our final approval, the first ride shows that it is very capable. The new Mercedes-Benz model is far more pleasing than its older Telsa counterpart and the more traditional combustion-engine E-Class in terms of build quality, refinement and dynamic traits, ride quality, and interior ambience.

Although the initial rear-wheel-drive EQE 350 model does not have a lot of performance, it has sufficient acceleration. If you have charging facilities, it is the kind of car I expect to be easy to live with. Even if you don’t have access to charging facilities, the car has a large battery and an advanced energy recuperation system that should provide it with a competitive range and the kind of economy that is second to none.

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