Mercedes-Benz is all in on electrification, says CEO Ola Källenius. And to prove it’s serious about this, the automaker is unleashing a flurry of fully electric vehicles, the latest being the new EQE. The EQE is sized like the venerable E-class and thus positioned right in the heart of the brand’s portfolio. The EQE hasn’t yet gone on sale in Europe and won’t arrive in the U.S. until later this year, but we were able to experience this newest Mercedes-Benz EV, albeit from the passenger’s seat.
The vehicle, an EQE 350 with the AMG styling package, was entirely undisguised. Clearly a sibling of the larger EQS sedan, it stands on the same fully electric platform, dubbed EVA2, but its wide stance and shorter wheelbase (122.9 inches versus 126.4) create better proportions. Unlike the EQS, the EQE doesn’t need to hide excessive size and height—the overall length is 196.6 inches, almost 10 inches shorter than the EQS. One drawback of the shorter body: Aerodynamics are not quite as slippery.
The bright white car we rode in was fitted with EQ-specific 20-inch wheels and had the panoramic roof that will be standard in the U.S. The flush door handles present themselves upon approach (although entry-level versions in Europe will have conventional door handles). With its advanced intelligent lighting system and wide rear light bar, the EQE looks positively futuristic at night.
The interior does as well, and here you find significant overlap with the EQS—in fact, the entire dashboard and center console are identical. That includes the optional Hyperscreen, a 56-inch glass surface that stretches almost the entire width of the cockpit. It houses three screens giving the impression of a single large screen. The EQE feels slightly less spacious than the EQS up front, although this is still a large cockpit. Entry-level versions of the EQE also get simpler seats.
The size difference between the two cars is a bit more visible in the rear, though the EQE offers plenty of legroom and headroom. In fact, the roominess is virtually on the level of the China-only long-wheelbase E-class, which is why Mercedes-Benz decided the EQE doesn’t need a stretched version. This car offers spaciousness similar to that of the Tesla Model S and is far roomier than the Model 3. The engineers made one compromise to achieve sufficient rear headroom: Unlike the hatchback EQS, the EQE does not have a liftgate (so no hinges intrude into the passenger compartment). Instead, there’s a conventional trunk.
Mercedes says there will be several versions of the EQE, including AMG derivatives. We experienced the one that will launch first: The EQE 350, which has a rear-mounted motor that makes 288 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque and is tuned to achieve especially long range. Final data is still pending, but we’re guessing its EPA-estimated range will be around 300 miles. Given the EQE’s considerable heft—it should weigh around 5000 pounds—we neither expected nor experienced any miracles in terms of straight-line performance. But the car still charges forward with urgency, until acceleration trails off at speeds well beyond the legal limit in most countries. There is a single-speed transmission, as in every electric Mercedes-Benz, and top speed is limited to a claimed 130 mph. We expect AMG models to go faster.