Review: All-electric Mercedes-AMG EQE is an engaging sports sedan, true luxury saloon and economy car rolled into one

The Mercedes-AMG EQE is the little brother of the EQS and sprints to 100 kilometers per hour in 3.3 seconds.Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Contrary to conventional wisdom, one could argue that the modern electric vehicle was launched neither by Nissan nor by Tesla, but by Mercedes-Benz – or, to be more precise, by Smart, the incongruous “animal of company” of the prestigious automobile manufacturer.

There wasn’t much of a market for a small two-seater electric city car. In Canada and the United States, the Smart brand is essentially dormant. But if Mercedes was lagging in the mainstream EV market, its EQ sub-brand has made up for lost time with a rapid streak of new all-electric vehicles.

So far, six EQ sedans and crossovers plus a delivery van are announced and on sale in Europe. One of the most recent was the EQE midsize sedan; consider it the electric alter ego of the E-Class sedan, and little brother of the EQS already sold in Canada. Then, just months after the EQE’s debut, Mercedes’ AMG division unveiled its performance versions of the EQE.

Mercedes-AMG C43 drops two cylinders, but adds F1 power and tech

Our subject here is the hottest version: Mercedes-AMG EQE 4MATIC+ if we’re going to be formal about it. In other markets, there is a “53” in the moniker to distinguish it from a milder “43” version that does not come to Canada.

Both ride on the parent company’s EVA2 architecture for premium electric cars, which will spawn more performance hybrids and all-electric AMG derivatives to come, said Philipp Schiemer, chairman of the board of Mercedes. -AMG. Additionally, “autonomous AMG electric vehicles will follow in the not-too-distant future,” he said. “These are AMG-based. EA, our new platform developed entirely in-house.

Claimed acceleration to 100 km/h of 3.3 seconds is slower than the fastest Tesla, but you probably won’t feel the difference.K. TSCHOVIKOV; Mercedes-Benz AG – Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans Global Communications; photo by Konastantin Tschovikov on behalf of Mercedes-Benz AG/Handout

Meanwhile, the EQE to the AMG has an electric motor at each axle providing seamlessly variable all-wheel drive, plus a combined 617 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers rise to 677 and 738 respectively when boosted by the available AMG Dynamic Plus package. The chassis is a technical tour de force, with air springs, continuously variable adaptive damping, rear-wheel steering and optional ceramic brakes.

Mercedes says the next-generation 328-volt lithium-ion battery has low cobalt content and high energy density. Usable capacity is 90.6 kilowatt hours, with a claimed range of 444 to 518 kilometers (based on the WLTP protocol which is more optimistic than North American standards). Maximum charge capacity is 170 kilowatts on DC fast charger, 9.6 kilowatts (in Canada) on AC.

To optimize range, Navigation with Electric Intelligence plans the fastest and most convenient route, taking into account charging stops, traffic, topography, driving style and air conditioning requirements.

As you’d expect from an electric Mercedes, the EQE can operate in grave silence. But AMG has also worked hard to give this electric vehicle some of the sonic drama its customers have traditionally come to expect. Rather than reproducing the sound and fury of its gasoline engines, it created an AMG sound experience specific to electric vehicles using special speakers, a bass actuator and a sound generator. When activated, two programs – standard Authentic and optional Performance – each offer Balanced, Sport and Powerful modes, with tone and intensity varying according to drive mode and how you drive.

The augmented reality head-up display projects an image of the roadscape ahead, overlaid with floating arrows indicating your next turn.Mercedes-Benz AG – Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans, photo by André Tillmann on behalf of Mercedes-Benz AG/Handout

Describing all the technology would take more space than is available here, but suffice it to say that it all comes together in a remarkable package that blends three distinct automotive personalities into one. First, there’s a nimble and highly engaging sports saloon that seems to halve its size when the road gets playful; second, a true luxury sedan with a plush, quiet interior and the kind of on-air ride comfort that only, well, air springs can provide; and finally, a zero emissions (assuming it’s loaded with renewable energy), econocar signaling virtue.

At the likely price in Canada (we’re guessing well into the triple digits), likely buyers of this car won’t be motivated by the econocar part. But if they fit your budget, even just the other two cars for the price of one might be a good reason to visit the Mercedes-Benz showroom when the AMG EQE hits Canada. Expect the fourth quarter of this year.

Technical specifications

Mercedes-AMG EQE 4MATIC+

  • Base Price/As Tested: TBA
  • Motor: 460 kilowatts combined, front and rear (505 kilowatts optional)
  • Driving: all-wheel drive
  • Battery: Lithium-ion, 90.6 kilowatt hours (usable)
  • Claimed range/combined energy consumption: 444 – 518 kilometers / 20.3 – 23.2 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers (WLTP).
  • Alternatives: Audi e-tron GT, BMW i7, Jaguar i-Pace, Lucid Air, Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S.

The trunk volume of 430 liters is rather low for a mid-size sedan.Mercedes-Benz AG – Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans Global Communications; photo by André Tillmann on behalf of Mercedes-Benz AG/Handout

Regards

Clearly related to its big brother EQS, the EQE is just under 5 meters long, making it a mid-size sedan close to a Tesla Model S in size. The standard EQE has an exceptionally slender drag coefficient of 0.20, although we doubt the larger wheels. The AMG version (20 inch standard, 21s optional) is exactly that.

Interior

The AMG EQE will be fitted as standard with the Mercedes-Benz Hyperscreen, which blends three side-by-side screens under a single glass, cleverly integrated into the sculpting of the dashboard. All are configurable in many ways and perform most day-to-day functions; apart from the stop/start button on the center console, almost all of the remaining “real” (albeit rather small and cumbersome) controls are on the multifunction steering wheel. The aluminum “shift paddles” behind the rim actually serve to regulate brake recuperation.

Performance

Even with Dynamic Plus in play, the claimed acceleration to 100 km/h of 3.3 seconds is slower than the fastest Tesla, but you probably won’t feel the difference. It’s still incredibly fast. As for the AMG sound experience, my ears would need more wheel time to explore all the variations, and your ears might experience them differently. Suffice to say that the effect is more star wars that Le Mans. I didn’t hate it, but frankly, isn’t the intersection of eerie silence and otherworldly acceleration the point of a mighty EV?

Technology

It’s a Mercedes-Benz. What could it not have – at least available, if not standard? We’ll name just one here: the augmented reality heads-up display that projects an image of the roadscape ahead, overlaid with floating arrows indicating your next turn.

Cargo

Boot volume of 430 liters – measured by the more generous VDA standard – is rather low for a mid-size saloon (the E-Class has 540).

The verdict

Athletic or opulent depending on your mood, AMG’s take on an electric car makes it good to go green – at a price.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. The content was not subject to approval.

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