We poked fun at German automakers in the 1990s for making the “same sausage, but in different lengths” – the contemporary C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class were pretty much the same design, just scaled up and down. And all that’s old is new again, only now it’s electrified. Following up on the attention-grabbing EQS full-size luxury sedan is the new 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE, and if you’re not looking at measuring tape, it’s not easy to tell them apart.
That might not be great unless you’re a fan of the big, space-pod Mercedes EV. Its polarizing, one-box shape demands attention, but some can’t get behind its shapely curves. At the very least, the full-size sedan drives very well, and the mid-sized EQE is built on the same EVA2 platform as its flagship sibling, with similar EV drive and infotainment technology. It carries the weight of Mercedes’ heritage and the pressures of a cleaner, greener future on its shoulders, but luckily the EQE is up to the task of convincing both electric apologists and loyal Benz drivers to consider its polarizing, one-box design.
|Quick Stats||2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+|
|Motors:||Single Permanently Excited Synchronous|
|Output:||288 Horsepower / 391 Pound-Feet|
|EV Range:||300 Miles (est.)|
|Base Price:||$70,000 (est.)|
|As-Tested Price:||$85,000 (est.)|
Gallery: 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE First Drive
While the EQE obviously shares much of its styling with the EQS, there are a few key differences. For starters, only a 90.6-kilowatt-hour battery is available, since the bigger sedan’s 107.9-kWh unit wouldn’t fit within the EQE’s 122.9-inch wheelbase (down 3.5 inches over the EQS). The mid-size sedan is also 10.7 inches shorter from bumper to bumper, giving the EQE much shorter overhangs and a planted, wheels-at-the-corners stance that looks more purposeful than the slightly aquatic EQS. The sportier proportions do exact a penalty, with a coefficient of drag that only goes down to 0.22 against the long-tail EQS’ industry-best value of 0.20.
There are a few styling details that differentiate the two as well. The smaller car wears two-element LED headlights instead of three, and it’s missing the EQS’ front light bar. And in spite of the EQE’s similar profile, it has a traditional trunk with a somewhat narrow opening in lieu of a massive hatch. Carrying over from the big sedan to the smaller one is a full-width LED taillight design whose curlicue lighting signature recalls the coil of an old-fashioned Edison light bulb. The EQE 350 Edition One I drove also gets five-spoke alloy wheels with aero-disc inserts like its big sibling, though of a slightly different design.
Inside, the EQE 350 is nearly identical to the larger sedan. Like the EQS 450+, the EQE comes standard with a 12.8-inch center touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a spec that leaves space on the dashboard for gorgeous etched wood trim with blue highlights (in the case of my Edition One tester), and Mercedes will also happily spec longitudinally cut “Yachting Design” brown walnut that invokes the deck of a wooden speedboat. A 3D-etched panel of glass and gray trim is also available, and each option gives the EQE 350 a lush, customized feel.
If you simply must have the latest technology on board, however, you can option the MBUX Hyperscreen on the EQE, replacing the unique trim bits with a single sheet of glass spanning the entire width of the dash. Hiding a massive 17.7-inch center display, a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, and a 12.3-inch passenger touchscreen underneath the sheet of high-temperature, scratch-proof glass, the Hyperscreen is an impressive piece of kit – though if it were my money, I’d rather have the wood trim.
Materials on the EQE Edition One are down a step from the posh EQS, but there wasn’t anything egregious to complain about. That is, except the huge piece of piano-black plastic on the center console that will convince absolutely no one that it’s wood. It’s also severely prone to fingerprints, so I hope a classier soft-touch or genuine wood option is on the horizon. Elsewhere, the Edition One’s unique seat upholstery – a blend of technical-feeling fabric and vegan leather – and its nicely padded dash and door panel trim impart a feeling of premium, modern comfort.
Access to the interior via narrow door apertures is a bit of a trick – I banged both my head on the roof and my knee on the protruding door panel in one unfortunate instance – but once onboard, there’s plenty of space and support up front. The rear-seat passengers suffer a little for the EQE’s high, flat floor, which gives folks back there a knees-up seating position, but the swoopy sedan is still a good place for four tallish adults to while away a few hours.
Choose Your Adventure
First drives usually feature highly curated, specific drive routes that raise red flags for my inner cynic. But Mercedes showed its confidence in the EQE by instead allowing me to check out a car and disappear for a little while. I spent most of my time in a rear-drive Edition One, traversing a few lovely ribbons of road near Frankfurt, Germany, that put the EQE 350’s understated rush of electric torque and excellent chassis balance on full display.
With 288 horsepower and 391 pound-feet on tap, the EQE should be able to hit 60 miles per hour in about 5.6 seconds and achieve a top speed of 130 miles per hour. I took advantage of Frankfurt’s derestricted Autobahn to test the latter, hitting an indicated 125 mph for short stints when traffic allowed. At that speed, the EQE is very poised, exhibiting nary a waggle even when lifting off the accelerator to accommodate the sudden appearance of a slower vehicle. The Autobahn did elucidate one unfortunate trait: At 80 mph or so, some rushing wind noise comes from the windshield header and A-pillars, a surprise given the EQE’s slippery shape.
Turning off the freeway and toward slower, more technical roads, the EQE is as stable and charming as it is at speed. Thanks to my tester’s optional 10-degree rear steering – a fixed axle is standard, and there’s a 4.5-degree system available as well – the midsized Merc can slice through parking lots and traffic circles with ease, and the wheelbase palpably shrinks around the car when gunning up a serpentine mountain road. In such conditions, the estimated 5,000-pound curb weight is hard to mask, but the EQE does its best thanks to a low center of gravity, optional Airmatic suspension, and aforementioned four-wheel steer.
Set to its sportiest drive mode, the EQE is more of a utility player than a star athlete, providing a surefooted driving experience that feels confident (if not overtly aggressive). Push the sedan and it will relent to understeer, but for most sane people, it will be a fine scenic route companion. And the intelligent regenerative brakes that debuted on the EQS are just as exceptional on the EQE, working with the radar sensors and navigation data to proactively slow the car for traffic, corners, and reduced speed limits while allowing it to coast when appropriate.
Go Speed Racer
Although only the EQE 350 and EQE 350 4Matic have been confirmed for the US market, Mercedes representatives coyly said that it’s possible a higher-spec model will arrive a bit later. Fittingly, the automaker also allowed me to sample the EQE 500 4Matic, which turns up the wick on its dual electric motors for a total of 408 hp and an undetermined amount of torque – “more” is a safe bet.
And while the EQE is still decidedly genteel instead of aggressive – even in 500 form – there’s still some fun to be had behind the wheel. The added power is most obvious at higher speeds, as the EQE 500 handles last-minute passes much more adroitly than the 350. The dual-motor setup also helps with traction on corner exits, reducing understeer and improving confidence when encountering damp sections of road (the result of a late-spring snowstorm the previous week that was only just now melting off).
Mercedes hasn’t confirmed the EQE 500 for our market, but whether we get that, the confirmed-for-Europe AMG EQE 43 and 53 variants, or all of the above, I think most customers will be happy to sacrifice some of the 350’s range in exchange for more power and better handling.
Speaking of, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE has a range of 660 kilometers (410 miles) on the WLTP scale. With its larger battery and sleeker aero, the EQS 450+ achieves 484 miles on the WLTP test and 350 miles on the EPA test, so one could probably assume the EQE 350 to get around 300 miles of range when it gets sussed out by the Americans.
Capable of 170-kW charging speeds, the EQE can go from 10 to 80 percent in 32 minutes using a DC fast charger, while an at-home wallbox will juice up an almost fully depleted battery in 9.5 hours. A 15-minute coffee-stop jolt at a DC charger can add about 155 miles of range. Those numbers are competitive with or better than the sleek Porsche Taycan S and Audi E-Tron GT, though the range and recharge monarch is still the Tesla Model S, which boasts 375 miles of range and a 27-minute charging speed using the automaker’s proprietary Supercharger network.
Official pricing is also as yet unknown, but we can make a few guesses based on the model positioning. It’s fair to assume the EQE 350 will be a bit pricier than the recently refreshed (but aging) E450. Plan on spending about $70,000 for the privilege of owning Mercedes’ latest electrified sedan, with loaded examples cresting $100,000. EQE 500, AMG 43, and AMG 53 models will probably start at around $80,000, $90,000, and $100,000 respectively.
The single-motor Porsche Taycan is a $79,900 affair, while the base Audi E-Tron GT Quattro is $102,400 and the dual-motor Tesla Model S is 10 bucks south of 100 grand. A BMW i4 is a compelling option, though at around $66,000, although it's about 7 inches shorter than the EQE.
Wherever your EV predilections lie, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE is a worthy rival to those machines, and that’s precisely because it’s merely a shortened and tweaked version of the automaker’s other electric sausage. After all, some folks aren’t hungry enough (or have the budget) for a full-size EQS frankfurter, and for them, the well-engineered, stable, and modern EQE is an excellent mid-size option.
EQE Competitor Reviews:
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+