DETROIT — What comes out on the other side when Mercedes-Benz chucks a well-established mid-size luxury sedan nameplate into its magical EV converter? One look at the 2023 EQE sedan and you know immediately that this isn’t just a gasoline car with an electric powertrain in place of its old grease-covered parts. It’s a clean sheet, free from the taint of dirty diesel and CO2 emissions, and in a way, a complete reimagining of the mid-size Mercedes sedan. Whether that’s better or worse is entirely up to you.
If you’re familiar with the Mercedes model hierarchy, you’ll recognize the 350 designation for the base powertrain in the company’s E-Segment (midsize executive car) offerings. Our tester’s 4Matic configuration actually ups it a bit, since AWD in an EV means you’re getting a second motor. Like the base, rear-wheel-drive EQE 350+, it comes with a 90.6 kW-hour battery pack, however, with a total estimated range of 260 miles versus the single-motor’s 305 miles. Mercedes says the EQE can be fully charged in 9.5 hours on a Level 2 wall unit or 10-80% in 32 minutes on a DC fast charger.
We’re still years away from EV power delivery being the standard rather than the exception, so it’s hard to contextualize the EQE’s performance. Its total combined output is 288 hp (215 kW). That’s what you’d expect from a run-of-the-mill, turbocharged four-cylinder engine in 2023. Those motors are tasked with moving a 5,400-pound Mercedes as well as whatever you put inside it, which you won’t be doing. Expect from a run-of-the-mill sedan. In fact, it’s the exact same weight as the much larger, gasoline-powered GLS 450, which packs a 362-hp biturbo V6.
An EQE 350 powered up during our EQE First Drive
Now here’s the kicker: It’s essentially no quicker to 60 than the EQE, despite the big SUV’s 20-plus-percent power advantage. Mercedes-Benz says that the EQE 350+ can hit 60 in 6.0 seconds while the GLS can do it in 5.9. the reason? torque. The dual-motor EQE has 564 pound-feet, while the GLS has 369. Not only that, but the torque produced by electric motors is largely available at the moment they start spinning, which means they typically spin much faster than gasoline engines of equivalent horsepower. , From a dead stop, the EQE can go full-tilt in an instant. By comparison, gas-powered cars leaving the same stoplight look like they’re trying too hard just trying to keep up — because they are.
The electronic acceleration noise Mercedes program helped drown out the outside world and contributed some drama to the incident, but it can also be turned off. Frankly, it’s the kind of serene push in the back that luxury cars are always intended for but usually fall short of due to their internal-combustion limitations. True luxury cars don’t have big engines because they’re meant to haul everywhere; They have bigger engines, so they don’t have to work nearly as hard to go fast as the rest of us. And at that, the EQE excels.
Dynamically, the script is flipped – to an extent. 5,400 pounds is a lot of mass to throw, and even if the electric motors are eager to propel it (they are “permanently excited,” after all), you still have to turn and stop. Mercedes offers several levels of electric regeneration activated by wheel-mounted pedals that would control a transmission in a different car. There’s no one-pedal drive mode, but the max Ryzen setting will drag you down to a crawl before you need to handle with the brake pedal. Like the EQS but unlike the EQB, that brake pedal itself moves to simulate where it would be if you held the brakes the whole time. I had no problem with it, but others are finding it difficult to stop the car smoothly. Either way, we think it’s a steep downgrade from both traditional hydraulic brakes and the one-pedal arrangement offered by many EV builders, including BMW.
The corners are a bit more of a mixed bag. The sedan’s already advantageous center of gravity is augmented by the battery pack’s low placement in the chassis, so body control remains solid despite the heavy weight and plush ride. It’s frankly impressive how strongly the EQE will turn a corner when asked to. At least some of the credit goes to the rear-axle steering system (see the video at the bottom of this page), but even with all this extra mechanical assistance, the EQE lacks the sharp reflexes and response of, say, the short and somewhat Up to the lighter BMW i4.
Despite the entry-level powertrain, our EQE tester was impressively equipped. The Pinnacle package is a box-checker’s dream. This includes the full MBUX infotainment package with augmented reality navigation features. Imagine having someone actually point you to your next turn, instead of expecting you to know that West 223 Street is the hidden alley between dumpsters and cardboard condominiums. It’s more impressive with the augmented reality heads-up display, which beams those arrows onto the windshield instead of a video feed, but it’s still useful, even if you have to glance at the infotainment screen for clarification. It sounds like a gimmick, but many great features start out that way, and it’s a keeper.
That’s on top of the excellent Burmester sound system (also included with the mid-tier Exclusive package), niceties like ambient lighting and surround-view cameras, heated seats, and a laundry list of other amenities we’ve come to expect from modern luxury. cars. The top model starts at $81,650. That’s a lot when you consider the basic-spec powertrain, but remember, $15,000 of it is just the options.
The downside to all those options is that there’s only one place to access them: the MBUX infotainment system. Redundant buttons are increasingly disappearing from the Mercedes interior. Admittedly, the result looks sleek, making the leap from the cheap-disguised-minimalism we see in some big-ticket EVs. But aesthetic benefits come at functional disadvantages, and this is no exception.
As we’ve experienced elsewhere in the lineup, the Benz’s user experience salvation comes not from its touchscreen, but from its voice command system. MBUX has its faults, but spoken word understanding isn’t one of them. Nine times out of 10, if you can’t find what you need, just saying “Hey, Mercedes, turn on Thingambob” will do the trick. For that 10th time? Oops. Hope you enjoy the menu.
Poking and prodding at a giant tablet is a decidedly compromised way to interact with a car, Mercedes at least deserves credit for making it work well, even if we don’t like the way it works. Don’t love Unlike older touchscreens that crumpled into the face of the insidious like a set of gloves, the MBUX’s touchpoints accept input from leather-wrapped digits without much muss or fuss. Whether it was the capacitive controls on the wheel or the screen itself, interaction was never a problem. I didn’t have any heavy-duty snow gloves to test with (yes, yes), but I’d bet the non-organic material and thicker insulation will render the interface unusable. Still, it’s better than nothing.
The EQE’s jelly-bean look is slick and undoubtedly efficient, but apart from some of its least attractive elements (that rear bumper, yikes) is anonymous and forgettable. The bubbly Chrysler “cloud cars” of the 1990s did the cab-forward quite clearly. When EQE’s time has come and gone, I suspect it won’t lose shape.
Normally, I don’t really get into the design when I road-test a car, but in this case I believe it’s warranted simply because it serves a good portion of the EQE’s target audience. The biggest turn-off can be A sleek, futuristic shape may be appealing to those who think that’s the form EVs should take, but to the buyer who wants a Mercedes first and an electric vehicle second (or perhaps a third, fourth or fifth); We’re still in the early days of EV conquest), I’m struggling to see the appeal. Perhaps a non-trivial number of those potential buyers only care about the badge and I’m underestimating the raw appeal of traditional Mercedes design. Then again, maybe not.
Luckily for the EQE, it’s just one of several new electric models Mercedes is churning out. That means it’s not solely responsible for building the company’s EV reputation. This is probably a good thing in some ways, as EQE is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. As I get over the styling, there’s a lot to like here, especially when you consider that the 350 is just the EQE’s starting point. It only gets better from here, and “here” is already pretty good.