Mercedes-EQ EQE: CLS-sized EV with an E-Class mission
As Mercedes slowly assembles its buffet of EVs, which could comprise the brand’s entire portfolio as soon as 2030, next up is a second helping of electric luxury sedan. Say hello to the E-Class’ electric cousin, the EQE.
Technically, this slinky blob is the Mercedes-EQ EQE, Daimler wishing to build the credentials of its EQ sub-brand by siphoning off EV offerings into a family tree distinct from the past. The EQE is the follow-up act to the new-for-2022 EQS, itself comparable in size, appointment, and price to the venerable S-Class.
The EQE rides on a smaller version of the same EVA2 “premium” platform. (Two more EV platforms are on the way, an AMG one tailored to performance and another built for vans.) It loses 3.5 inches of wheelbase compared to the EQS, which means space for only 10 lithium-ion modules, not 12. Usable capacity drops slightly, to 90.6 kWh, and range dips from 485 to 410 miles (both figures in WLTP). Why not add a second layer of batteries, you ask? Simply put: cabin space. While a high-riding truck like the Hummer can accommodate two rafts of batteries stacked between its axles, with plenty of interior headroom to spare, sedans are a different matter. An 800-mile range with a hobbit-size cabin doesn’t do much good.
Like its ICE cousin, the EQE will be available in different tunes. We’re first meeting the single-motor, rear-wheel drive EQE 350. Next up is “a second model”—Mercedes’ playing coy for now, but we’d expect a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version with 450 in the name. With 288 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, the entry-level EQE 350 is positioned just above the base E-Class but below the mid-tier, 362-hp E 450. Clever—but Mercedes hasn’t announced pricing yet, so we only have part of the picture.
The EQE’s dimensions and interior equipment do offer a few clues as to where this midsize EV will fall in the Mercedes hierarchy. At 196.6 long and 59.5 inches tall, it’s noticeably longer and taller than its combustion-powered E-Class cousin. Measurements are closer to the CLS tip-to-tail, and, though the EQE is narrower than either, its height and lack of transmission tunnel likely means a very airy cabin. Besides length, the EQE differs most from the E-Class in seating position: You’ll perch 2.5 inches taller in this battery-powered vehicle.
The EQE’s interior tech further suggests that it will sit upmarket of the E-Class with which it shares some nomenclature: The EV comes standard with the S-Class’s 12.8-inch center-mounted touchscreen, which is flanked by a 12.3-inch instrument cluster. The wall-to-wall Hyperscreen that wows in the EQS is optional in its little sibling, though you can expect to pay dearly for the upgrade. The E-Class starts in the mid-$50K range, the CLS around $70K. We’d bet that the EQE fall in between, with more powerful variants quickly approaching the CLS’ price range. (For perspective, the base, rear-wheel-drive Porsche Taycan starts above $80K but has 25 percent more power than the EQE 350.)
Will interior space and bling convince buyers to pay CLS money for base E-Class power? The EQE’s highly aerodynamic looks won’t do it any favors here. Those immune to the virtues of its blunt nose and single-arc silhouette will likely pronounce it boring. Counterpoint: The emblem on its schnoz may generate all the street cred the EQE needs. It’s a similar story at Porsche: The average Joe would be hard-pressed to distinguish the Taycan from its bigger, ICE-powered sibling, the Panamera—but the Taycan is nonetheless recognizably a Porsche. The buying public will, of course, have the final say.
Due to hit dealer lots sometime in 2022, the EQE debuts alongside a new GLB-sized electric SUV—inventively called the EQB—but only the sedan is coming stateside. (For now.) Europe is better-adjusted to EV life than we are for now, true, but the choice reveals something else: Mercedes knows that sedans are an essential part of its brand identity here in the U.S. If Mercedes-EQ can translate the E-Class’s refined, confident personality into the electric age, Stuttgart will have taken another major step to bridge old and new. The all-out EQS was a smashing amuse bouche. We can only wait to get a taste of the follow-up course.