New Mercedes EQE 2022 review
The Mercedes EQE is more luxurious, far better-built and just as good to drive as a Tesla Model S. It has lots of range, too, and while charging speeds could be better, there aren’t many places in the UK where you can top up faster than 170kW anyway. It’s only let down by its practicality, where it trails not only the Tesla, but also its combustion-engined sibling, the E-Class. Still, the entry-level EQE is far more affordable than even the cheapest Model S and is excellent in the most important areas to EV buyers: range, comfort and tech.
With SUVs taking the spotlight for many brands as they turn to EVs, Mercedes has become one of the first of the more established marques to look into a more traditional segment with the new EQE.
It’s based on the same platform as the larger EQS and shares many elements with the flagship model. This EQE 350+ edition – the only one offered in the UK from launch – has a 90kWh battery and a range of up to 394 miles, according to official figures.
Charging is capped at 170kW, so a 10-80 per cent charge at a public rapid charger takes just over half an hour. Even this ‘entry-level’ 350+ model has 288bhp and 565Nm of torque and can go from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds, which feels right in this kind of car.
You get the sense that the brand’s engineers have spent more time focussing on comfort and refinement than outright performance, because you don’t get the same kick when you press the accelerator as you do in even the least powerful versions of the Tesla Model S. The EQE feels more relaxed, even in its sportiest setting.
There are Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual modes, and our car was fitted with adaptive suspension, which swaps between comfort and sport settings, but the difference is only small. The stiffer set-up is noticeable, but even in the comfort setting the EQE is well controlled in corners.
The Mercedes rides smoothly, too, but it’s not completely immune from jolts on rougher roads. It’s very compliant over sharp bumps and potholes, though. Whether it’s actually as comfortable as, say, an E 220 d will have to wait until we’ve driven a UK-spec car on UK roads.
The interior is a real high point. It’s very well made, uses high-quality materials and features some very comfortable seats. It looks great and there’s no contest next to a Tesla’s sparse cabin – the Mercedes is where you’d want to spend your time.
The EQE is available with the Hyperscreen found in the EQS – a 1.4m-wide triple-screen display that covers the entire dash – but we can’t get it in the UK yet. It might appear on upcoming AMG models, but the 350+ won’t have it. Instead, you get a set-up similar to other models in the Mercedes range, with a digital display behind the steering wheel and a central touchscreen that controls most of the car’s functions.
It all looks very smart, but it’s a shame there aren’t more physical buttons, because changing things like the climate control through the screen isn’t entirely intuitive. It is quick to load and responsive, and the graphics are high-resolution, though, so it feels cutting-edge. Other features from the current Mercedes range, such as augmented-reality sat-nav, are available here, too.
The EQE is a saloon, so the rear window is fixed and there’s a small boot lid with 430 litres of space underneath. That’s less than you get in a Tesla Model S, and both the opening and the boot itself are quite narrow, so the EQE isn’t quite as practical as its main rival. An E-Class is much roomier than the EQE overall, but the only electrified edition is the plug-in hybrid.
The EQE lags behind the E in the back seats as well. There’s loads of legroom – even the tallest adults will be able to stretch out – but headroom is more limited. The model we tried was fitted with a sunroof, and we found that adults brush their head against it. The middle rear seat is only good for kids, because of its high-set position and the compromised rear headroom. Rear visibility could also be better due to that swooping body shape.
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