While late to the EV party, Mercedes-Benz is determined to make up for lost time. In quick succession, it’s rolling out a procession of new models, including the 2023 EQE. GearJunkie headed out to Denver to be one of the first to take the newest all-electric sedan out for a drive.
In little more than a year, Mercedes-Benz has rolled out an assortment of new battery-electric vehicles, starting with the big EQS sedan, the electric alternative to the flagship S-Class. That’s been followed by an SUV version of the EQS, as well as the downsized EQB crossover.
But there’s no rest for Christoph Starzynski and his EV development team. In the months to come, they’ll formally launch two versions of the next product in the all-electric lineup: sedan and SUV versions of the EQE.
2023 Mercedes EQE Review
The four-door will be first to market, with the crossover to follow next year. The EQE sedan is effectively an electric alternative to the midsize E-Class.
It may be smaller than the EQS, but it picks up the flagship model’s distinctive — and decidedly controversial — “one-bow” design language. With only the most modest deviations, a single, curved line flows over the top of the vehicle from bumper to bumper.
That is, of course, intended to minimize drag and maximize range. A closer look reveals all manner of details, some minor, some major, helping to deliver one of the lowest coefficients of drag of any vehicle on the road today.
As with the EQS, the smaller sedan replaces a traditional grille with a solid fascia — available as either a solid black panel or lit up by dozens of small, Mercedes tri-stars. While there’s no engine under the hood to feed air to, there are small air intakes below the bumper, here to bring cooling air to the EQS electric drive system mounted below the load floor.
It takes a careful look to see the differences between the two sedans. Among the notable differences are two triangular accent lights above the LED headlamps. They both adopt clamshell hoods. But don’t try to open them. That’s for a trained Mercedes mechanic, according to Starzynski.
The good news is that the electric drive system will require minimal maintenance. About the only thing you’ll need to worry about is windshield washer fluid, and you do that by popping open a small door on the left front fender.
Inside the EQE Sedan
Inside, the EQE also mimics its big brother, with turbine-style air vents relegated to the corners of the IP, and thin horizontal louvers doing most of the work of the climate control system. The instrument panel is dominated by twin digital displays — or, if you opt for the Hyperscreen upgrade, an integrated, three-screen system that covers the entire IP.
The infotainment system picks up on the MBUX voice assistant found in the conventional E-Class. It’s an Amazon Alexa-style system that lets you control most vehicle functions with plain English commands — though there are a number of additional functions distinctive to the EQE. You can track energy usage, for one thing, and use the navigation system to lay out a route that includes charging stations you might need along the way.
With no driveshaft tunnel, Mercedes designers found extra space to play with, coming up with a floating, two-level center console providing plenty of extra storage space.
The one-bow design does create some compromises, primarily to rear headroom — though the electric model does feature a surprisingly cavernous trunk.
Diamond-stitched seats are available in leather or a “vegan” alternative. On the EQE 350 I spent my time in, they proved plush and comfortable, even after a long day of driving. And they’re supportive enough to keep you in place when you mash the throttle and feel the sedan’s instant torque.
Mercedes EQE Electric Models
Expect to see as many as three versions of the EQE reach the market over the next year, starting with the EQE 350 I drove. It sends current from a 90.6kWH lithium-ion battery pack to a single rear motor making 288 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
According to Mercedes, you can go from a nearly drained battery to a 100% charge in 9.5 hours using a 240V Level 2 charger. Plug into a DC fast-charger with at least 200 kW of power and you jump from 10% to 80% in about 31 minutes.
In Europe, using the WLTP test cycle, Mercedes estimates about 660 km, or just over 400 miles per charge. That will be substantially lower using the stricter EPA test procedures. So, expect something closer to 300 miles before needing to plug in again.
For those who might want more power, Mercedes is expected to follow with the 402-horsepower EQE 500 4Matic which, as its name suggests, will come with a dual-motor all-wheel drive system. Also on tap: the AMG EQE, which is expected to deliver as much as 677 horsepower, enough to launch from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package.
EQE 350 Performance
While the EQE 350’s numbers might not seem impressive, a first drive is likely to change your mind. Mercedes hasn’t released final weight figures, but there’s no question that batteries aren’t light. Yet, a tap on the throttle came as a revelation. Though I didn’t have a chance to run a stopwatch, I buy Mercedes’ claim of a 5.6-second 0-60 launch.
Electric motors deliver virtually 100% of their torque the moment they start spinning. So, as I headed out from downtown Denver on a circuitous route leading me out into the surrounding hills, I discovered the electric sedan had more than enough power to deliver a kick on launch. And it had no trouble keeping up with the speed demons dominating the left lane on I-25.
I was pleased that the product development team had learned some lessons after the launch of the original EQS. The sedan initially didn’t include a 1-Pedal driving mode. For those unfamiliar with the term, 1-Pedal mode functions much like a gas-powered vehicle that’s been downshifted several gears.
It allows a driver to avoid having to jump back and forth between the accelerator and brake. Modulate the throttle and the sedan will slow, even come to a complete stop.
The downside with the EQE 350 is the need to reactivate the feature every time you restart the car. And, to come to a complete stop you have to go into setting to disable “creep” mode.
Out in hill country, the EQE 350’s handling was largely indistinguishable from that of the classic E-Class. I was able to flog it around tight corners with only a moderate amount of body roll. The electric steering system proved smooth and precise and the suspension kept things completely predictable.
2023 Mercedes EQE 350 Review Summary
During my day in Denver, I had the opportunity to test the EQE in a variety of driving situations: from downtown streets to winding mountain passes, all connected by fast-moving freeways. The experience was, on the whole, impressive.
While I’m not entirely sold on Mercedes’ One-Bow design language, the EQE 350 is an attractive, luxurious, and well-equipped option for those who want to go all-electric.
Final pricing has yet to be confirmed but is expected to start in the mid-$70,000 range. Because it will be imported from Germany it likely won’t qualify for federal incentives under the revised bill passed by Congress over the summer.
That could be a deal-breaker for some potential buyers, but the new EQE has enough going for it that it should score with plenty of EV adopters who don’t want to wind up in another lookalike Tesla.