Mercedes has to deliver with the EQE; the company’s 100-year-plus heritage feels more than a little at stake with its electric executive saloon. We’re finding that the car nails the brief when it comes to some factors – such as comfort and refinement – but it already seems to come with more than a few quirks and caveats as well.
– Mileage: 682
– Efficiency: 2.3 miles/kWh
Welcome to the future. Or what Mercedes would like you to think is the future. The transition from ICE to EV is a constant battle, evidently, in your affections, but it has rarely been more stark than in the executive-saloon class.
New to our fleet is a Mercedes EQE, which is in effect an all-electric alternative to the E-Class saloon, representing the very pinnacle of Merc’s electric car technology. Like the larger Mercedes EQS, it sits on the brand’s bespoke electric architecture, but unlike BMW’s rival 5 Series, it diverges from the petrol-powered saloon in almost every aspect.
Our model is an EQE 300, featuring the entry-level single-motor powertrain that produces 241bhp and 550Nm of torque. Mercedes says this will be the most popular variant, and with the 90kWh battery pack, it claims up to 337 miles of range. It’s not a fast car, but then, sporty driving dynamics are not top of its potential buyers’ wishlists.
Being a top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus, it has all the bells and whistles, including a Burmester stereo, a panoramic glass roof, heated electric seats, adaptive air suspension, rear-wheel steering, digital headlights and Mercedes’ 11.4-inch touchscreen interface and fingerprint recognition.
But it also has 21-inch wheels that have a detrimental effect on range – 40 miles less than models on smaller wheels. The only optional extra is the no-cost Obsidian Black paintwork, but there are some big numbers to consider, namely the extraordinary £86,345 price tag and 2,535kg kerbweight.
We’ll think about those two figures in due course, but now it’s time to start getting under the skin of this new-generation car. Everything, including the car’s underlying packaging, aerodynamics, design and digital make-up are essentially new for Mercedes.
Which is why we’ve decided to start our time with it in a cradle of automotive innovation, the Brooklands Circuit. As well as being the home of Mercedes-Benz World, this was also one of the world’s first purpose-built race tracks. Brooklands represents a sense of innovation that Mercedes is so keen to channel into its new EVs.
From the Mercedes-Benz streamliners that were constantly on the verge of new land-speed records in the twenties and thirties, to the 300SL Gullwing of the mid-fifties, all represented quantum leaps forward in their fields, something the EQE is aiming to mirror. So the question is whether Mercedes has chosen the correct direction for its new electric luxury car.
We’ll have a clear answer after a few more months, but early impressions are that the EQE is very comfortable and extraordinarily refined. However, we’ve also had a bit of bad luck, when a half-dropped manhole cover took out both passenger-side tyres after barely 300 miles. That wasn’t the fault of the EQE, but it did highlight the reality of 21-inch wheels on such a large, softly suspended car.
Mercedes’ roadside assistance service did all it could, but wild weather and localised flooding on the day meant recovery vehicles were scarce, leading to a fair old wait in the back seat. No matter – a nearby coffee shop and just enough battery on my laptop made it a perfectly useful remote office.
The EQE also seems insistent that the 12V battery is dead or dying, both on the dash and on the MercedesMe app, yet it comes to life without issue when the starter button is pressed. This doesn’t affect anything while I’m driving, but it won’t then allow any remote services like preheating, which is a drag when it’s been below freezing overnight.
Anyway, the car has now returned from a brief stint back at Mercedes, so we’ll get to stretch its legs and see what else is hiding underneath the EQE’s smooth skin. Best we buckle up, because there’s a lot to get through.