Review: Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ EV - When an iX is too in-your-face
Shaun · Jan 24, 2023 12:00 PM
Right now in 2023, there’s no shortage on choices when it comes to EVs, especially if you’re looking to spend around RM 400k. And since you’re splurging this amount on a car, might as well go for something premium right? So, your options will likely be narrowed down to just the BMW iX and the Mercedes-Benz EQE.
What about the BMW i4 and Mercedes-Benz EQC, you ask? Well, those are fine as well but since they’re based on a combustion-engine platform, some compromises such as packaging must be made. At this price point, do you really want compromises? Right then, back to the two.
Before we continue, I’d like to talk about the Goldilocks principle, which states that people are inclined to look for something that is ‘just the right amount’ of something. In the case of cars or electric vehicles (EV), that something can be anything from price to size to even looks.
While the Mercedes-Benz EQE is the second most expensive EQ model, it sits closer to the rest of the model range in terms of price than the EQS. It’s smaller than the EQS and it’s nowhere near as imposing as the BMW iX, but still manages to turn heads. From this perspective, the EQE does appear to be in the Goldilocks zone.
Exterior – Cue the egg puns
It’s not a design that would egg-cite people nor would it be described as egg-cellent, but many would at least egg-knowledge that it’s a smoothly sculptured exterior.
Apologies if that came across as cheesy, but the whole “one bow” design language does make it resemble an egg. Because it’s shorter than the EQS, the effect is more pronounced.
Moving on, our Malaysian-spec Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ comes in the AMG Line trim, which is usually the most appetizing to look at compared to other trim levels.
But unlike in overseas markets, our EQE misses out on the three-pointed star pattern on the front grille and gets a plain gloss black panel instead. Depending on colour choices, it can look a little empty.
The 19-inch twin-five-spoke wheels look slightly malnourished, though the flipside is that comfort levels are eg… sorry, excellent. Which we’ll get into in the ride comfort section.
Moving inside, the EQE’s interior would’ve looked nearly identical to the EQS if it were specified with the MBUX Hyperscreen option. But frankly speaking, I think the EQE is better off without it.
More than just a differentiation factor between the flagship EQS, the Hyperscreen in the EQS felt somewhat gimmicky as the 3-screen setup looks underwhelming during daylight and the passenger screen is underutilized, most of the time.
Also, because the instrument cluster has to be on the same panel, it's angled upwards which is suboptimal for the driver.
In EQE, there is no such qualm. It’s just a good old split screen setup with a properly angled instrument cluster and a portrait infotainment display. Operation and graphics are just like in any other modern Mercedes-Benzes - pleasing graphics and easy-to-use UI, plus crisp displays.
And just like current Mercedes-Benzes, the capacitive buttons can get annoying at times as directional swipes are inaccurately registered. True tactility is also missing, replaced by haptics. Volkswagen has already conceded and said that buttons would return. Your turn, Mercedes?
Other misses include the poor visibility, particularly through the rear windows (it really feels like looking through a letterbox), the less-expensive-feeling materials on the lower parts of the cabin, and without the hatch-style tailgate like the EQS and a smaller boot, practicality isn’t quite as good.
Kneeroom is decent with 3 tennis balls worth of space for a 177 cm individual such as yours truly, though headroom can be a little tight. And because the window line is rather high and there’s no glass roof, the cabin doesn’t feel as spacious as its exterior footprint would suggest. The BMW iX in comparison, feels airier and less cooped up in general, being an SUV.
Driving Experience – A ‘baby EQS’ indeed
Mercedes says the EQE is designed to be sportier than the EQS, and it does feel ever so slightly lighter on its feet and more willing to accommodate enthusiastic driving. But as a whole, it’s still an executive driving experience that emphasizes on composure and stability.
While the EQE 350+ makes do with ‘only’ 292 PS compared to 333 PS in the EQS 450+, the EQE turned out to be the quicker one with a tested 0-100 km/h sprint time of 6.15 seconds, 0.1 second less than the EQS 450+.
This is likely down to the slightly lower weight in the EQE (120 kg or thereabouts) while both produce the same 565 Nm of torque. In practice, both feel similarly brisk and will accelerate past triple-digit speeds with ease.
Unlike the EQS, the EQE does not get rear axle steering, which becomes quite apparent during low-speed manoeuvres. The EQE doesn’t pivot around quite as impressively in tight spaces, which is ironic considering it’s the smaller car. And because visibility isn’t exactly great, care must be given in such scenarios. Good thing the 360-degree camera is wonderfully high-res.
As for the driving controls, steering ratio is quick enough to reduce steering effort in parking situations and offset the lack of rear axle steering, while precision is maintained around corners without introducing nervousness at high speeds.
The throttle pedal has a firmness and tension like many Mercedes-Benzes with floor-mounted pedal, giving a sense of heft to the driving experience. Brakes, however, are still not the best when it comes to feel and predictability like every other Mercedes EQ models.
My way to get round the brake pedal is to enable one-pedal driving by turning off “creep” function. It’s not the best-calibrated system, as it isn’t quite as intuitive and predictable as the BMW iX or even the Kia EV6, but it’s adaptable with time.
Ride Comfort – No air suspension, no problem
Another item the EQE doesn’t get is the Airmatic suspension, which I though was a bummer at first but having lived with this passive setup over a variety of Malaysian road surfaces, my initial concerns have been banished.
It’s not as isolating as the Airmatic in the EQS of course, but for the most part, the ride is superbly judged. Over undulating surfaces at higher speeds, it mimics the wafting sensation of the air suspension and gives a pillowy ride quality.
At low speeds, the thick tyre sidewalls help absorb the sharp edges, while the ride stays composed without getting jiggly.
This is perhaps the best riding modern Mercedes-Benz on passive suspension, which is pleasantly surprising considering their hit-and-misses when it comes to suspension tuning.
Being a lower riding sedan, the EQE rides flatter than the BMW iX that has to deal with amplified lateral movements at the rear. Well, it’s one or the other – a calmer ride or an airier cabin.
As for seat comfort, side and thigh support are rather decent in the front seats with evenly distributed pressure points for the back.
At the rear, the seat base angle is aggressive to boost thigh support though the seat back is a little upright for my liking. As a result, the seating posture at the rear isn’t quite a relaxed as I would prefer.
In terms of cabin noise levels, it’s not EQS-silent. Exterior noises aren’t as impressively muted and there’s slightly more tyre roar at higher speeds. The EQE is still a quiet car to be in, but don’t expect EQS or even BMW iX levels of isolation.
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ - Cabin noise level
Over a 108 km trip in mixed conditions during the night (lower temperatures do improve range slightly) with an average speed of 30 km/h, the trip computer indicated an average energy consumption of 14.9 kWh/100 km. Regenerative braking was left in normal for majority of the journey.
Our calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 15.9 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive charges to 80 percent (like how we perform fuel consumption tests).
In theory, the 90.5-kWh battery would give a maximum real-world range of 569 km in similar driving conditions, which is rather impressive. The lower output, slightly less weight, and the omission of Airmatic suspension do improve the driving range over the EQS.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ isn’t the biggest in size, the most expensive, the most spacious, the best to drive, nor does it command the most presence. But it’s also far from being an entry-level model.
What the EQE does is that it cherry picks the best bits from the EQS which are refinement, interior design, and comfort level, and offers them at 80 to 90 percent capability in a smaller package at a significantly lower price point (RM 419k vs RM 698k).
It places the EQE right at the crosshairs of the BMW iX though truth be told, the iX is a brilliant EV, but have you seen its face? The EQE isn’t as shouty and gets around more discreetly. To some, that could be a virtue.
If you ask me, the EQE has ‘just the right amount’ of luxury, comfort, and head-turning ability for the right amount of money. It’s the Goldilocks of EVs in Malaysia right now.
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.