Merc’s superior EQE SUV — what a difference an E makes

The EQE SUV is a much better all-rounder than the bigger EQS. We’d still prefer the saloon, though

Mercedes Benz EQE SUV

Back in the 1980s, we worried about cars all looking the same, as everyone scrambled to follow Ford’s aerodynamic ‘jellymould’ look for the Sierra (even though that original Sierra was actually more angular than it later became, but let’s not pick 1980s Ford nits here).

Subsequently, that concern shifted to platform-sharing, and the worry that if all cars from a brand or group of brands were made using the same components, they’d all be basically the same to drive, and thus our motoring world would become duller and less interesting.

Well, Mercedes has finally and fully put the cap on that worry. This electric EQE SUV is, under the skin, basically the same as the bigger, pricier, more overtly luxurious EQS SUV which we recently tested. Yet it is utterly different to drive, and in the best ways possible. In that, it essentially mirrors the comparative performance of both the EQS and EQE saloons. The larger EQS is somewhat more sybaritic, and has a more practical boot and roomier back seat. The EQE is slightly cramped in the back, but is far, far sweeter to drive.

Actually, if the space in the back of the EQE saloon is insufficient for you, your children, or your collection of geologic samples that you, for some reason, need to regularly carry then the EQE SUV is the panacea you’ve been looking for. You get the same battery, same rear-drive electric motor (unless you pony up the extra for four-wheel drive or one of the hi-po AMG versions), and basically the same dashboard. What you gain is lots and lots of rear space.


If you can convince passengers to leave behind the comfort of those rear seats and fold them flat, you get 1,675 litres to play with

The EQE saloon is a touch cramped in the back, and has small rear windows which don’t let in a lot of light. The EQE SUV is the polar opposite – plenty of legroom and headroom, big windows, and fitted to our test car, an expensive sliding glass roof to give you even more natural light. The rear seats are superbly comfortable, matching those in the front, and there’s even enough space – just – to get someone sat in the centre rear seat (although the folded-away armrest will be constantly poking them in the back).

Mercedes Benz EQE SUV

The boot is not especially massive. At 520-litres, it’s outshone by that of a smaller, more affordable, Hyundai Ioniq 5 or, more in keeping with the Merc’s price stratum, the 569-litres of an Audi Q8 e-tron. It’s not really an issue though, as the EQE SUV’s boot is square, flat-floored, and entirely useful.

If you can convince passengers to leave behind the comfort of those rear seats and fold them flat, you get 1,675 litres to play with. Plus, unlike the enclosed boot of the EQE saloon, you can put pets back there, so at least my dog was thankful. The only downside really is that, unlike the EQS SUV, there’s no option for an extra row of seats.

Up front, the dashboard is identical to that used in the EQE and EQS saloons, just set slightly higher up. There’s a huge sweep of stippled black plastic trim running the width of the cabin, bookended by gorgeous circular air vents which resemble jet engine turbofans. Sadly, that big plastic panel is rather creaky and cheap-feeling in places – press a finger into a corner and it crunches like cardboard – and the row of touch-sensitive buttons below the main screen don’t feel much more expensive. If you’ve experienced a pre-1995, or post-2011 Mercedes then this will seem something of a let-down.

Unless you really, truly need the extra seats, step past the EQS SUV and get one of these instead

Other aspects are better – the gorgeous leather trim on top of the dashboard, the excellent touchscreen reclining on the centre console, the view out (even if it is impeded somewhat by chunky windscreen pillars). I’m less keen on the touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons, which seem sleepy at best, disinterested at worst; and the main instrument screen is slightly too large for the aperture in the steering wheel, so you have to pick and choose which bits of the screen you want to see.

Under the flat floor is 90.6kWh (useable) battery pack, which allows the EQE SUV to boast a maximum range on on charge of 544km. Actually, some models claim to be able to hit 590km, depending on the market and spec, but I’ll go with 544km because (a) it’s enough, and (b) it’s entirely realistic.

When traversing around-town bumps at low speeds, the inertia of that weight moving around causes an annoying side-to-side head-toss motion

Indeed, even with plenty of time spent on the motorway, with the air conditioning going, the EQE SUV seems capable of covering at least 500km on a charge. If you’re mostly pootling around town, you’ll probably beat that 544km claim. It even averaged under 20kWh/100km electric usage, which is impressive for something this big and heavy.

Being big and heavy is, essentially, what ruins the larger EQS SUV. It’s just so bulky, so top-heavy, that it’s all-but impossible to enjoy driving it on anything other than a large, empty motorway. On such roads, the tall EQS feels like an executive jet. On tighter, smaller roads, it’s closer to being a bin lorry.

Mercedes Benz EQE SUV

The EQE SUV, as noted, uses the same basic structure, the same basic suspensions components, and our test car was fitted with €2,969 worth of optional air suspension, bringing it into line with the EQS SUV. And yet it feels so much better, nicer, sweeter, to drive. Whereas the EQS SUV feels all at sea on a twisty road, the EQE SUV does that classic Mercedes thing of feeling kind of aloof and distant at first, and then revealing itself to be pin-point precise and poised when you show it some really challenging corners.

The best Mercedes cars get better and better the harder the dynamic questions you ask, and the EQE SUV does exactly this. True, the brakes could be sharper, and equally true that portly 2.5-tonne kerb weight eventually reminds you that the laws of physics have a hard limit. Also, when traversing around-town bumps at low speeds, the inertia of that weight moving around causes an annoying side-to-side head-toss motion. Aside from that, though, the EQE SUV provides a dynamic masterclass.

It’s bested in the twisties by the more pointy BMW iX, but it’s ahead of the heavy-and-dull Audi Q8 e-tron.

If you’ve experienced a pre-1995 or post-2011, Mercedes then this will seem something of a let-down

The final downside? The styling. Yes, Mercedes’ engineers have worked wonders giving the tall and roomy EQE SUV a coefficient of drag of just 0.26Cd (better than a much smaller Toyota Corolla, although the Cd figure doesn’t take into account the frontal area, which is a whole other layer of maths through which to wade) but the styling that has been wrapped around those hardpoints is disappointingly ordinary. The EQE saloon has a certain sense of dash with that ‘one-bow’ roofline and low-slung styling – the SUV just looks kind of apologetically blobby.

If that’s the only real penalty, though, consider it well worth paying. And unless you really, truly need the extra seats, step past the EQS SUV and get one of these instead. Of course, we’d prefer the saloon, but then where would the dog go?

Lowdown: Mercedes-Benz EQE 300 SUV

Power: 180kW electric motor with a 90.6kWh battery generating 245hp and 550 of torque driving the rear wheels through a single-speed automatic gearbox

0-100km/h: 7.6 seconds

Emissions (motor tax): 0g/km (€120)

Electric consumption: 17-21kWh/100km (WLTP)

Range: 544km (WLTP)

Price: €114,309 as tested. EQE SUV from €98,780

Our rating: 4/5.

Verdict: Still big and bulky, but so much sweeter to drive than the larger EQS SUV. Excellent range on one charge, too

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring