Smaller electric saloon wins day on handling, but rear view lets it down
This car-reviewing is a job that can leap up and bite you in the bum if you are not extremely careful. I recently reviewed the Mercedes EQS large electric saloon. I praised it to high heaven for the way it drove. I said I didn’t think there was much else out there quite like it overall.
And, in many ways, there isn’t because it has some wonderful claims to fame (such as the dash-length hyperscreen).
While I had reservations about a few things, rear visibility being one, I’d have said it got a nine out of 10 if it were being marked for innovation, comfort and technology.
Yet there is a car that is better than it for handling and drive. And the funny/ironic thing is that it too is a Mercedes. The EQS is the marque’s largest from-the-ground-up Merc; the EQE is next in line. So I might as well make it clear that the EQE luxury saloon I’ve just been testing is a nicer car to drive than the larger, salubrious, awe-inspiring EQS.
And it costs thousands less. There is just that “something” extra about the smaller saloon that gives it a lift thanks to the handling and ride.
Remember the EQS glided over surfaces with aplomb, so you have to imagine how good the EQE is to be better than that. It felt altogether a tighter, tauter machine.
That is saying something, because the EQS has earned all sorts of plaudits for its aforementioned ability to swish over unforgiving on-road terrain.
Yes, the EQE is better; it has an admirable ability to quash bumps or hollows that come its way – to such an extent that I never noticed as much as a ripple finding its way into the cabin or sneaking into the steering wheel. Only one bit of sharp-surface quiver got through.
Why am I emphasising that aspect of the car when there are dozens of other innovative bits and pieces that I could go over and assess their impact?
Basically, I think it is because a different sort of driver will want this car and will, I guess, be that bit more focussed on key areas such as handling and ride as they sample rivals.
And among them will be current owners of the E-Class, in particular, even though the new car costs around €20,000 more.
The EQE looks like an EQS in some ways but is less expansive in side-on profile. There is a price to pay – as there nearly always is. It is bedevilled with a drawback that is a direct result of trying to bend shape into smaller dimensions.
The result is a sharp sloping almost-coupé roofline and rear-view vision is squeezed as a result. It’s reduced to near peep-hole dimensions and certainly affected how I’d regard the car as an entity.
I kept asking myself why would they design it to such an extreme just so it is nearly as “slippery” as its EQS big brother which is the least wind resistant production car around.
Or do they think that all the gadgets and sensors around the car will adequately equate to the level of monitoring that does away with the need for a rear window at all?
Sadly too, that roofline robs the back seats of their head space though there is good leg-room. Overall it is 90mm shorter than the EQS and a 90kWh battery is smaller than the 108kWh in the EQS.
The claimed range of 641km is not alone impressive, it isn’t pie-in-the-sky. My test car retained an accurate assessment of how much charge was left at any given time. It’s also great that it flashes a great big message when you start off, telling you what power is left.
There is no sign of the much talked about hyperscreen which, optionally as I’ve said, stretches the breadth of the dash in the EQS. The EQE combination of a 12.8in touchscreen (same as S-Class) and a 12.3in driver info screen worked every bit as well, if less ostentatiously.
It’s a lovely cabin and, if rear visibility is overlooked, quite spacious generally.
But it does come into its own on the driving. It loved long bends at good pace that would have lesser cars grabbing for grip.
It was also fun for letting it do the driving on its own on motorway journeys (you still have to keep a hand on the steering wheel but it “self drives”). All in all a most pleasant experience and an insight into how dynamic a big electric car can be.
Would I buy it? I certainly would for the fun of the drive and the lower price (everything is relevant). But I would have reservations about the rear visibility.
And you won’t find me saying there is nothing like it. My bum wouldn’t be able to withstand the trauma of another bite. So, all in all, the EQE is refreshingly good to drive.
EQE 350+, AMG Line, electric motor 292hp, 0-100kmh in 6.4 secs; top speed 210kmh. Range: 641km, tax €120. With optional extras, price of test car is €105,131.
Standard spec includes speed adaptation, auto climate control, wireless charging system, fingerprint scanner, driver display (12.3in HD), MBUX multimedia system, central display (12.8in), Comfort suspension, ambient lighting, driving assistance package, parking package with 360-degree camera.
Smaller is better: The new Mercedes EQE has earned all sorts of plaudits and is nicer to drive than the EQS