Mercedes EQE: Cue the Royal Fanfare

There’s something about a German car. I don’t know what it is, the engineering, the design, or the pedigree, but it is undeniable. Though my love for cars goes well beyond anything I can remember, my journalistic experience with them is limited so far. I have driven quite a few cars for testing and videos, German ones like the BMW iX, the Porsche Taycan, the Mercedes S580 Maybach, the EQS, and the GLS 600 Maybach, Indian ones like the Mahindra Thar, XUV 700, and Korean ones, like the Hyundai Verna, and the IONIQ 5. I’ve liked most of them, I have had gripes with a few, and with the EQE that I’m testing right now, I’ll try my best to not sound like I fell in love.

Still, there’s something about a Mercedes that always makes you sound like you are in love with it. Maybe it’s the good looks, or the interiors that bring to mind the feeling that you have a castle to your name in the British countryside. You know, the kind where you’d ride horses, until you graduated to driving a car like the EQE, which has the equivalent of 408 horses at the wheels.

The Car

This is the Mercedes EQE — an E-class SUV that’s been electrified by the German maker to appeal to a wider audience, and hopefully, play a meaningful role in combating climate change, all the while making you feel like royalty, albeit the kind that still drives their own cars because why wouldn’t you?

Mercedes EQE badging on the A-Pillar
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

It’s electric, so you don’t get the 3L 6-cylinder diesel you’d find in the GLE 450d, but you do get a pair of electric motors, one each for the front and rear axles, capable of producing 408hp, and accelerating from 0 to 100 in 4.9 seconds, which, for a car this size, is remarkably quick.

I say a car of this size, because it is a big boy. 4.8 meters long, 2.1 meters wide, and 1.6 meters tall.

It’s also a good looking car. The grille that looked absurdly big on the EQS looks like it’s found a home on the bulkier EQE, adding it’s very own “electric car” charm.

Front grille on the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

The Features

Being a Mercedes, and an electric car, obviously, there are features everywhere. Most of them are things we’ve seen in other cars from the German carmaker already, and they are good to have. However, there are some things that are more nuisance than substance, and I wish I could opt-out of those.

1. Speed and Power!

Look at me, calling “speed and power” a feature. Still, the near instantaneous power delivery on the EQE is a product of the electrification of the car, and you certainly don’t get that on the regular GLE.

Anyway, with 408 horses at the wheels, the EQE is a quick car. Though it’s bulk makes it less-than-ideal for zipping through traffic, the moment the road opens up, and you push that accelerator pedal any harder than a feather-light touch, the car shoots forward. God forbid you floor it, because 100kmph comes up too soon, though the air suspension makes it difficult to feel the speed, and you will shoot past every car on the road; usually.

Mercedes EQE Infotainment screen showing Sport mode selected in driving modes.
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

I didn’t push the car to its electronically limited top-speed of 210kmph, because the roads in Delhi just aren’t good enough to do that, but I will neither confirm nor deny any odd 150kmph sprints that this car can do… quite comfortably, I might add.

The only time you feel the weight and the size of the car is during braking. I don’t know if it’s the particular unit that Mercedes delivered to us, or if it’s just what the EQE does, but braking, especially under speeds over 80kmph, feels like the brakes are struggling to bring the car down to a halt. They do, eventually, and without fail, but it doesn’t inspire confidence for more spirited driving.

Mercedes EQE side profile image
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

2. OLED Screens, Because Why Not?

Inside the EQE, I forget that I’m driving on noisy Delhi roads with people honking for no apparent reason, and trying to cut into gaps smaller than their cars’ front end. The cabin is quiet, though not as much as the GLS 600 Maybach, but it makes for a comfortable drive nonetheless.

Add to that the beautiful displays, and this car could be an entertainment center. There are three screens in total on the dashboard — the instrument cluster is a big LCD screen, but the infotainment and the passenger-side screens are both OLED displays.

Instrument cluster of the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

At a glance, it’s difficult to tell them apart, though that’s due more to the excellent LCD in front of my face when I’m driving, combined with the fact that MBUX, in general, makes rather excellent use of dark colors.

The central infotainment screen is a massive 17.7-inch OLED screen, and though Mercedes (and most carmakers) don’t advertise the resolution of their displays, I can tell you I attempted to pixel-peep the hell out of this thing and it’s just very good. If anything, the screen is too big, so that CarPlay has the media controls far away from me, requiring a bit of a stretch to reach them, or to tap on the “Navigation” button.

Infotainment screen on the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

True, I could just use Siri, but saying “Play Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book 7 on Audible” is more work than just stretching out my arm a bit.

On the passenger side, there’s a 12.3-inch OLED display where your passenger can watch whatever they want to watch, complete with support for headphones so that they don’t disturb the driver.

OLED infotainment and passenger side displays on the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

Like I said, this car could be an entertainment center, and the Burmester sound system definitely helps. There are 15 speakers in the car for a total sound output of 710W, and let me tell you, I gambled my hearing and listened to songs on full volume just to see if they crackle or distort, but of course, they didn’t. It’s just an overpowering sound at high volumes, and I don’t know exactly what the use case is, for a speaker system so loud, it will make it nearly impossible to drive the car safely.

But it is a rather excellent sound system nonetheless. It’s clear, the highs, the mids, the lows, all sound really good, and regardless of the genre of music you listen to, it sounds perfect. Believe me, I tried. Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock, Metal, Classic Hindi songs (think Rafi, Kishor Kumar), Instrumentals, Orchestra, even the Interstellar theme (Hans Zimmer, you legend!), everything sounds amazing right out of the box.

Music playback using CarPlay in the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

So, if you do find yourself stuck in that horrendous traffic that graces our capital every now and then, you can rest assured that you’ll be entertained, at the very least.

3. There’s No Reason to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Speaking of being stuck in traffic and looking for the silver lining inside the silver three pointed star that is your EQE, let’s talk about the comfort.

Everyone says that we should get out of our comfort zone, but they’ve clearly never sat inside a car as comfortable as the EQE (or any other luxury car for that matter). There’s really no reason to get out of your comfort zone, except to get some food to eat while sitting in your comfort zone.

You get massage seats, and let me tell you, not once have I driven the EQE without turning on the driver side massage. It’s just too good. The seats themselves are comfortable, with an excellent blend of being soft but with firm support.

Seat massage options in the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

All the usual features are here — ventilated and heated seats, adjustable lumbar support, adjustable under-thigh support, a welcome and goodbye function, and more. If this car could bring me my food and charge itself, I would probably never come out of it.

Seat lumbar support on Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

4. Fuel? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Fuel…

Before all you petrolheads go off in the comments screaming at me for the title of this section, let me clarify — I only mean this for electric cars. ICE cars have and will, always have a place in my heart. However, the EQE is not a petrol or diesel car, it’s electric, so the only fuel it needs is a power outlet, or a CCS-2 connector out in public.

Charging port on the Mercedes EQE
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

These things are not exactly rare anymore, but I still find that it’s something of a gamble, finding one that’s available, working, fast enough, and has something to do nearby for the hour or two you’ll wait for the car to charge.

Still, at least the EQE gets really good range out of its 90.56kWh battery. Mercedes claims a 465-550km range on a charge, and I think that’s nearly what I got though I didn’t do a very scientific test. Still, driving the car for around 65 odd kilometers everyday, took the range down by around 200km in 3 days — that math adds up; and this is with the AC and massage turned on, and the ambient lights set to max brightness.

Mercedes EQE charging and range display on infotainment screen
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

Charging takes a while, yes. I connected it to a DC charger at 46% remaining battery, and in 47 minutes, when I really couldn’t delay getting to work any further, it had charged to 70%. That’s not very fast, but it was a 60kW DC charger, and the EQE supports up to 170kW, so your mileage may vary.

5. Price: What Did It Cost? Everything

If you read the title of this section as “Gamora” and “Thanos”, you and I ought to be friends. What’s not very friendly, however, is the price tag on this car. It’s Rs. 1,39,00,000 — that’s a lot of money, and quite a premium over the GLE 450d that you can get for Rs. 1,15,00,000, or the GLE 300d that will only set you back by Rs. 96,40,000.

Still, if you are a potential GLE buyer, you might not balk at the 24 lakh INR price difference between that and an EQE which is also quicker at 0-100 sprints, and might end up saving you cost on fuel. Though, again, if you’re considering either of these cars, I am unsure how much you care about the price of diesel to feed these cars’ hungry hungry engines.

Nitty Gritty Nitpicks

Though I liked pretty much everything about the EQE, there are a few quirks that just glared at me throughout my usage of this car over the last week.

1. Hard Plastics? Really?

First, there are a lot of hard plastics here for a car that costs 1.39 crores. Most of the interior has a leather finish, and is covered in soft-touch materials, which is great, and par for the course on a luxury SUV. However, the places where there are plastics, they are not even made to feel any better than what you’ll find in any other car out there.

It’s the kind of thing that makes me feel like a snob for writing about it as a gripe, but it’s something that I wasn’t expecting, after the kind of experience I’ve had with some other cars from BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes themselves.

2. Safety Features

More annoying however, are the safety features. I know what you’re thinking, and no, I don’t have a deep desire to see if there is a god. However, at least in India, safety features like automatic braking, lane keep assist, steering assist, and attention assist, can be more trouble than they are worth.

Case in point: I am driving through the Delhi Noida expressway, or to use its colloquial name — DND — and there’s a car in front of me, going 50 on a 70kmph road. I don’t want to be a rude driver and flash my lights at the car in front, when there’s a whole empty lane on my left. Wonderful, I turn, but the steering keeps pushing me back into the blocked lane. Why? Because steering assist and lane keep assist were turned on.

Mercedes EQE front stance
This picture has nothing to do with safety features, but I just wanted to show you how good this car looks
Shot by: Kushagra Varshney (Beebom Media Private Limited)

Frustrating, yes, but also partially my fault, because I should have turned on the indicators.

The automatic braking, on the other hand, is actively a threat on Indian roads, where we constantly have to push our car closer than two car lengths to the car in front before we can manoeuvre into a different lane, but the collision avoidance and automatic braking will apply sudden brakes, which not only makes it nearly impossible to overtake absurdly slow drivers on the road, but also makes it highly probable that you get rear-ended because of the unexpected braking.

Okay, so FINE. This is not Mercedes fault, Indian roads are full of people with no driving etiquette, blah blah blah. All true. What is Mercedes’ fault, is the fact that if I disable these features, they automatically turn back on the next time I start my car. So every time before I start a drive, I have to perform what can only be described a ballet with my finger, tapping on two different physical buttons and four different on-screen buttons to turn off these features. Every. Single. Time.

I Love the EQE, but I Want the W124…

Look, no car is perfect, and that’s okay. It’s the imperfections, that make a car more than just a hunk of metal, rubber, and wiring. It’s what gives a car soul, and while nothing will ever have more soul than a ICE car, especially one like a W124 Mercedes, I am still holding out hope for EVs to be more than just a car.

So what is the Mercedes EQE? Well, it’s a car, obviously, but it manages to be more than just that. It’s luxurious, it’s comfortable, it’s quick as hell. It’s not just a standard-looking blob of metal, rubber, and wires, and it’s one of the few EVs that give me hope for the future of EVs, although I wish that future co-exists with ICE cars instead of replacing them.

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