2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV review - practical, spacious and specced to the gills
If you want to buy a luxurious, long-range, pure EV car, as of today the Germans are your best options - not the Brits, not the Japs and not the Koreans either. The Audi Q8 e-tron and the BMW iX are two of the best all-rounders in that sense and now they are joined by Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV. Launched at ?1.4 crores, it's priced higher than its compatriots, but it is loaded to the gills with all the bells and whistles that Mercedes-Benz has to offer on this platform. So you don't have to tick a long options list or choose between variants - all you need to do is make a choice - is the EQE SUV the one you want? Read on to know my perspective.
This is the SUV version of the EQE saloon, which is unlikely to come to India. Because from an Indian standpoint, the E-Class long wheelbase sold to us is unbeatable on comfort (in its segment) and if you are going make a Green statement instead by going electric, the EQE SUV offers better practicality than its electrified saloon sibling with a much larger boot, easier ingress and egress, a higher seating point, more headroom, decent knee room and foot space and excellent seating comfort too.
It even offers better tech. You get the massive 56-inch hyperscreen like the EQS. It shows the wireless Apple CarPlay is a large, easy-to-use format, or gives you a big and detailed view of the map by default. In my case, it was showing me a nice view of the mountains around Gulmarg where we shot the EQE and Kashmir looks great even in a 2D view too! Now if you don't have such great views like these to soak in when you are charging the car, the large screen also allows you to play games or watch movies. Though I'm sure you would rather do that on your phone or tablet. But the screen is a conversation starter, a feel-good factor and works really well while road-tripping because of that large map.
You can't play games or watch movies on the move, though. There are facial recognition cameras in the car that instantly identify when the driver is looking at the screen (or elsewhere but the road) for more than 3s and starts throwing up warnings on the instrumentation to draw your attention back to the road.
It's a nice touch and one of the small things that add up to the enhanced safety of a Mercedes-Benz. More tech distinction for the EQE SUV comes in the form of its twin-motor setup - which not only makes for a colossal 858Nm of torque but also gets you the electric 4MATIC system. It's more safety-oriented, of course, but it aids traction under hard acceleration. Speaking of, a standstill to 100kmph is a quick 4.9s and despite the lack of any aural drama you can feel the pace. Top speed is restricted to 210kmph.
Off-road/bad road capabilities
The 4MATIC also enables the Off-road mode, which comes with tools like Hill Decent Control, the ability to raise the car and also enable the transparent bonnet view, much like the new GLC. The latter uses the front camera to record and stitch footage at the front wheels to show you any obstacles at the front axle. When driving in the Off-road mode the 4MATIC system and the torque and brake distribution are optimised to trot over slippery or slightly tricky terrain, with ease.
This is where the EQE's born-electric platform shows its difference from electrified ICE cars or platforms like the EQC, for example. You would have to think twice before going over a speed breaker in the EQC - let alone going off the road with it. The purpose-built EQE, however, has much better ground clearance to tackle rough roads, tall speed-breakers, deep potholes, etc.
Range and driving performance
The claimed range is around 550km (WLTP) and our past experience with the EQS tells us that the real-world figures for these born electric Mercs are usually only 8-10% lower than those claims. However, we saw the on-screen range estimates depleting relatively quickly. Sure, the mountainous terrain we drove on had a bearing on those estimates, but I have a feeling that the EQE SUVs' real-world range will be around 20% less than the claims. Blame it on the twin-motor setup and the always-alert 4MATIC system, maybe. In fact, that is also the reason why the EQE SUV doesn't quite match the range estimates of the EQE saloon (660km). Expect a 425-450km range on the typical Indian driving cycle - which still qualifies for long range.
Furthermore, the EQE SUV supports up to 170kW DC fast charging, meaning you can take full advantage of the 180kW chargers that around 20 Mercedes-Benz dealerships are now equipped within India. 45 minutes of charging at this speed is enough to replenish the batteries for another long haul, so road-tripping with the EQE SUV shouldn't be a worry - at least in the popular corridors of the country.
The EQE SUV has a single-step transmission, but the performance is brisk and enjoyable. There is the Airmatic suspension which will take into account the number of people and the luggage and automatically adjust the car's ride height and damping to ensure optimal comfort, handling and aerodynamics. And if you want to tighten the chassis (relatively), there is the Sport mode to stiffen things up around the bends.
The Sport mode also makes the throttle response a lot crisper and the throttle pedal feels lighter too. The Eco and Comfort modes feel significantly more restrained in comparison.
The car climbs inclines briskly too, and typical to an EV, there is no dearth of power or torque, so the overall tractability is excellent. More importantly, the 858Nm never feels overwhelming even in the Sport mode. It's easy to maintain a steady power delivery and in the narrow, winding roads around Gulmarg, the EQE felt easy to manoeuvre. It certainly feels a lot more agile around bends than the EQC.
Where it feels heavy is in the sudden potholes and undulations on the road where the floor or the suspension seems to crash into it. But this is true for most EVs and there is only so much that fancy suspension systems can do to counter the weight of the batteries.
The EQE SUV also offers a more commanding view of the road compared to its saloon sibling, or even the EQB, for that matter. But the wedge shape of the car makes for rather long and board A-pillars, which do hamper cornering visibility on the narrow winding roads.
This wedge shape is also the reason why I may not buy the EQE SUV over a GLE. Even with its sober lines and details, the GLE still looks at the money and has an imposing stance. The shape of the EQE SUV isn't as mesmerising and the bid to achieve a slippery shape has made all new Mercedes-Benz EVs look awkward.
Furthermore, the DRLs look too much like the iX and the overly large logo on what looks like an unnecessarily large grille, simply doesn't wow me. And then there are the million little stars in the grille (and even the centre console). Some might call it intricate detailing, but I think it's a bit too shouty. Especially for a Mercedes. Does a Mercedes-Benz really need this? Is the design team unable to establish the brand essence with just the shape and form of the car? In the past, it only took one elegant emblem on the bonnet and the onlooker would go weak in the knees. But in a bid to attract the younger audience now, the traditional stance of a Mercedes-Benz is getting lost and that has purists like me worried.
But the younger audience is the one bringing in the volumes right now and therefore the EQE SUV breaks away from the tradition established by the ML and GLE in all respects - styling, stance and powertrain. When you disassociate the EQE from its ICE predecessors, you might appreciate it for everything it offers from an EV standpoint. Long range, exceptional torque, a cabin brimming with tech, excellent space and practicality and one of the best service, warranty and assured buy-back packages in the business - which ensure that the EQE is future-proof and one of the best buys in the segment.
Starts Rs 1.34 Crore
Starts Rs 1.16 Crore
- 2023 Maruti Suzuki Invicto vs Toyota Innova Hycross comparison review - Who did it better?
- Nissan Magnite EZ-Shift review - is the AMT any good?
- Maruti Suzuki expected to launch 3 new cars in 2024
- Maruti Suzuki Jimny Thunder Edition launched; prices start at Rs 10.74 lakh
- 2024 Hyundai Creta facelift spied testing again