mReview: Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ AMG Line - Not Your Grandfather's Benz
Mention the Mercedes-Benz brand to any old-timer near you and chances are, they would immediately think of the W124 or W140 models of yesteryear – essentially over-engineered bank vaults on four wheels, built to last several lifetimes.
Penned by the legendary car designer Bruno Sacco, those boxy Benzes cemented the carmaker's reputation as a company that not only made luxurious automobiles, but those that can take a beating (or several) no matter where they were in the world, and still arrive at their intended destinations in style and supreme comfort.
It's no longer 1995, however. Design languages have evolved, customers' needs have changed, and priorities have shifted. Angular three-box designs are no longer in vogue, and every manufacturer out there is fighting to create even more slippery and more efficient machines, and dump traditional engines for oversized Tamiya motors in a bid to reach carbon neutrality.
Enter the EQE, Mercedes-Benz's electrified attempt at winning over the mainstream executive car market. It looks and sounds nothing like the Benzes of the old days, but is that really a bad thing?
Making Friends With the Wind
Even in its standard 350+ AMG Line trim level, the EQE looks exceedingly aerodynamic. Its silhouette clearly hints at it having been designed primarily in the wind tunnel, with lines that simply flow and work together with the air surrounding them, and virtually no sharp angles to speak of.
It also features a relatively low roofline and A-pillars that breach past the car's arched beltline and go well below it. While there's little doubt that the design choices were pragmatic and functional, the visual results are polarising to say the least, and I find that it gives the car an odd-looking side profile.
The EQE's front fascia is very much like its bigger EQS sibling, with a blanked-out grille element and miniature three-pointed stars that surround a centralised Mercedes-Benz emblem. And since this comes equipped with the AMG Line package, it features AMG styling cues like the gloss black fins and splitters.
Unlike the EQS, however, there is no lightbar running across the top of the grille. And the headlights feature a slightly different LED arrangement from those found on the bigger model. With all of that said, only eagle-eyed observers or true Benz aficionados will spot these differences.
To further differentiate between the two models, the EQE has been given a shorter rear deck and a more steeply-raked rear windscreen, with the third brake light mounted just below the latter. Other aero treatments at the back include a diffuser, vents behind the rear wheels, and a subtle bootlid spoiler.
One element of the EQE that you will certainly not mistaken for another is the taillight assembly, which wrap around the muscular rear arches. Its LED light elements features a dazzling 3D helix structure, which effectively shows that the carmaker's still got it in terms of creative automotive design.
Owning a Mercedes-Benz is an experience, and this extends to even the process of entering the EQE. Its electrically-operated door handles are recessed into the rest of the bodywork for aerodynamic purposes, until you get close enough to the car. The car then unlocks, with the handles gliding outwards silently, beckoning you to step inside.
Light and Breezy
Pull the handle gently and the doors open to reveal a properly stunning cabin. The EQE is festooned in sumptuous white leather, satin metal, and other high quality materials. Even the carpeting is made of white fabric.
The initial reaction is one of awe and wonder, with the EQE's interior looking a lot like an airy modern living room, just that it's bolted onto four wheels. The sense of space is unparalleled, and you do not feel the least bit claustrophobic inside.
The dashboard, which is tilted ever so slightly upwards, gives the illusion of having more space. And I love Mercedes-Benz's open-pore walnut wood trim on the dash, which looks contemporary and classy without going overboard.
You get a rather practical dual-screen setup, much like the C200 AMG Line that we'd tested in the not-so-distant past. Much has already been said about the MBUX experience before (here and here), but it somehow feels more well-sorted and more bearable to use on the EQE.
It's also got fancy features like Augmented Reality (AR) Navigation and Traffic Light View. The former superimposes directional signs onto the live front camera view on the centre screen, which adds a new level of immersion to your on-board navigation experience. The Traffic Light View provides even more help by monitoring the traffic light colours when the car has stopped, and alerting the driver once they've turned green.
The steering-mounted controls are a lot easier to use than on the EQB and CLS, and the thinner wheel rim certainly helps in ergonomics. I'm still not too excited about the capacitive scroll pads at the top, as the real estate is far too small and prone to wrong directional inputs.
No matter if you're the driver or passenger, you can be assured that the seats are plush. The offer impressive levels of support and ventilation, and the powered ones up front come with memory function.
Perhaps an improvement for future iterations would be to introduce darker carpeting, as the ones on this test unit were already quite stained; not that good for a brand-spanking new car.
Like other contemporary Benz models, seat controls are located on the door card, and require some figuring out.
Connectivity is good, with plenty of USB Type C ports available inside for both rows of passengers, along with wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto support, and an NFC charging pad just beside the cupholders.
Rear occupants are also blessed with AC blowers, though they are unable to control the temperatures or fan speed. The blank panel below suggests that this is an optional extra, in the form of the S$3,600 THERMOTRONIC four-zone climate control system.
It has a 40:20:40 split rear bench, which separates the cabin from a 430-litre boot. The load lip is fairly high, but the boot opening is thankfully quite wide, which makes the storing of luggage fairly easy.
Looking through the rearview mirror does get quite frustrating, however. The rear windscreen is far too small and narrow to be of any use, and I had to resort to using the side mirrors for most of the time.
A Surprising Performer
With ventilated discs residing behind the optional 21-inch multi-spoke alloys, the EQE not only brags about having very sporty-looking wheels, but also effective brakes in bringing the 2.4-tonne car to a stop when things get dicey.
Not that the car is difficult to drive; far from it. With a rear-wheel drive architecture, the EQE is massively fun to drive around corners, and its stiff Airmatic air suspension making body roll a thing of the past.
I say 'dicey' because the EQE is capable of completing a century sprint in just 6.4 seconds, with 288 bhp and 565 Nm of torque immediately accessible from the get-go. You're not getting the full-fat AMG experience of course (that's reserved for the dual-motor Mercedes-AMG EQE 43), but it's still a surprisingly excitable car to drive.
It glides silently without the usual futuristic whooshing acceleration sound effects that are found in various other EV cars. And with the excellent Burmester audio system playing your favourite tunes at high, you can easily find yourself on the wrong side of the law without even realising it.
The EQE's steering is well-weighted enough that you feel like you're piloting a proper Benz, and its impressive rear-wheel steering allows you to execute the tightest of turns as though you're driving an A-Class. If you frequent places that have multi-storey carparks, this feature is a huge plus.
Mercedes-Benz claims that the EQE 350+ has a power consumption of 18.5 kWh/100 km, or 5.4 km/kWh, with its 90.6 kWh battery pack. In theory, one can expect about of 500 km of range available, which is already impressive enough.
We found out that the reality is far sweeter, with the EQE returning closer to 16 kWh/100 km, and an estimated range that's closer to the 600 km marker.
It supports up to 170 kW DC fast charging and 11 kW AC charging, the former of which means you can take full advantage of the existing 120kW chargers or the upcoming 150 kW ones. This means that topping up your EQE's battery fully will take far less than an hour.
A New Dawn for the Three-Pointed Star
As demonstrated with the EQE 350+, Mercedes-Benz still has what it takes to bring its A-game to the yuppies hailing from Silicon Valley.
Not content with just straight up designing a cabin space that looks right at home in the year 2123, the German brand has largely solved range anxiety with its shockingly efficient powertrain, and still managed to give it good driving dynamics that can rival its highly-rated Swedish counterpart.
It's not without its flaws – the small rear windscreen and odd shape will still leave some car buyers scratching their heads. But in terms of fun fuss-free driveability and power efficiency, the EQE is a very comprehensive package that very few can match.
This is definitely not your grandfather's Benz, but it sure has all the trailblazing hallmarks that made the Benzes of old so darn good.
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