AMG EQE: Mercedes’ all-electric Tesla fighter is here
Say hello to the star-badged jellybean aiming for the Tesla Model S’ undisputed crown: the Mercedes-AMG EQE. Breathed upon by Mercedes’ in-house performance division, this pure-electric sedan aims to leverage the German brand’s proven strengths (build quality, luxury, and technology) to produce a sedan whose driving dynamics are worthy of the agile, supple-riding E-Class. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Mercedes is organizing all of its battery-powered offerings under the EQ sub-brand, whose first foray into the U.S. market is the S-Class-sized EQS. It’s an alien-looking thing, a high-tech testament to Mercedes’ boldness in embracing the compromises of an EV. The EQS doesn’t even look like a normal car; its lozenge-like silhouette is designed to minimize drag and thus extend cruising range. If you expected the most aerodynamically efficient production car to look pretty, you’ll be severely disappointed—and the EQE’s exterior styling follows in the EQS’ unapologetically drag-reducing steps.
Widely appealing it is not, but Mercedes has traditionally catered to buyers who are fascinated rather than overwhelmed or repelled by the latest technology, weirdness be damned. AMG didn’t mess much with the aerodynamic perfection of the regular EQE, applying the same restrained treatment as it did with the amped-up EQS: vertical “slats” in the “grille,” a slightly different expression in the lower front fascia, new wheels, and the logical AMG badging on the spoiler-free rump.
Interior upgrades are mostly cosmetic, too. A twin-spoke AMG steering wheel flanked by aluminum paddles (which control energy recuperation, not transmission gears) sits in front of the driver, who will notice a smattering of red stitching throughout the interior and the AMG crest embossed on the headrests. Pedals, door sill plates, and carpet mats are all AMG-specific. Infotainment parallels that of the regular car: The S-Class’ 12.8-inch center-mounted touchscreen and 12.3-inch instrument cluster come standard and the dash-width, three-in-one OLED Hyperscreen—a no-brainer upgrade for Affalterbach’s customers—is optional.
Enough about the decorative bits: AMG cars are usually more about performance. Again, we need a word of context first: You’ll be underwhelmed if your brain is tuned to station Internal Combustion. Hot-rodding an EV powertrain doesn’t require forged internals or freer-breathing intake or exhaust systems; usually, it means adding motors to both axles (the regular EQE has just one on the rear), providing plenty of battery-electric energy, and remapping the car’s computer brain to unlock the motors’ full potential. The EQE, in this case, retains the regular car’s 90.6-kWh battery pack but gains a second, three-phase permanently synchronous motor (PSM) on the front axle. (The windings and laminations of these higher-output motors are unique to the AMG model, as is the inverter.) Output skyrockets from 288 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque (EQE 350) to 617 hp and 701 lb-ft of torque. Naturally, there’s a “jailbreak” sort of package, dubbed AMG Dynamic Plus Package, which unlocks even more power: 677 hp and 738 lb-ft.
A range of drive modes titrates all this EV juice. Choose “Slippery,” and you’ll only be managing 308 hp, or half capacity. Comfort and Sport increase that percentage to 80 and 90, respectively; Sport gives you everything, and those who spec their AMG EQE with the Dynamic Plus upgrade get a boost function good for a 110 percent jolt (that’s where the 677-horse number comes from). Models without the upgrade (Dynamic Minus?) shoot from a standstill to 60 mph in a Mercedes-estimated 3.4 seconds; the Dynamic Plus package drops that figure to a theoretical 3.2. If you restrain yourself from such shenanigans, range tops out around 321 miles according to the Euro WLTP cycle. If you set on a stoplight-conquering quest Mercedes makes no promises, but if you have access to a fast-charging station you can add 112 WLTP-rated miles in as little as 15 minutes. Zap.
Though the driveline may not require much added hardware, the suspension and braking systems are another story. AMG borrowed the basic recipe of the air suspension from the big-brother EQS and the AMG GT Four-Door Coupe: a four-link front and a multilink setup in the rear, with adaptive adjustable dampers that use separate pressure limiting valves to control rebound and compression. Brakes upgrades seem appropriate to a 389-hp bump: Six-piston calipers clamp 16.3-inch rotors in front, while single-piston calipers and 14.9-rotors take care of the rear. This being an AMG affair, carbon-ceramics are available, with front rotors increasing to 17.3 inches.
Mercedes is also making much of this EQE’s “AMG Sound Experience,” which uses an array of speakers plus a bass actuator and a “sound generator” to produce an aural signature, both inside and out, varying based on the drive mode or driver’s preference. This could be incredibly cool or incredibly kitschy—we’ll let you know once we see the AMG EQE in person.
Despite (or because of) the historic weight of its marque, the AMG EQS isn’t likely to convert many of Elon’s fanboys to the ways of Affalterbach. Resist the urge, however, to dismiss the AMG EQS on its Ricola-esque exterior styling: In many metrics that matter to buyers at the $90K–$100K price point (build quality, materials, prestige) the AMG model will be a force to be reckoned with. We can’t help but applaud Mercedes’ all-in approach when it comes to luxury EV performance. Now, we just need to drive it.