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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE First Drive Review: More Than a Mini EQS

Despite sharing a silhouette with its larger EQS sibling, Mercedes' midsize electric sedan is far from an identical twin.

eqe-promo
The washer-fluid port remains the only user accessible part of the front end.
Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz occasionally catches some guff for building a wide variety of cars that all happen to look similar. The 2023 EQE is only going to add fuel to that fire, because from 50 feet away, all but the keenest Roadshow-reading eyes will think it's the larger EQS. But don't let its first impression fool you -- the EQE is very much a distinct vehicle, carrying a character all its own.

Coming in at about the same size as a CLS-Class, the EQE is definitely smaller than the EQS. But body size is only the beginning. The overhangs are shorter, and the fenders look a bit more muscular. The EQE isn't a hatchback, either. Instead, the trunk is hinged below the rear glass and the opening is large enough to accommodate anything from golf clubs to… well, knowing this car's target demographic, more golf clubs. In person, this sedan cuts a very nice silhouette, and it's just as good at grabbing attention as its bigger brother.

Compared to the EQS, the EQE's interior layout is mostly the same. Soft materials are everywhere, and the E-Class' double-blade steering wheel works well here, too. The rear seats offer a good amount of space, and the panoramic roof helps the cabin feel a little larger than it actually is. Usability remains good, with ample center console storage, an additional tray beneath and a recessed area that contains the cup holders, USB ports and wireless device charging.

Mercedes' dashboard-spanning Hyperscreen remains optional, and it won't be available right away at launch, but the smaller standalone screen that's borrowed from the S-Class might be my preferred experience. It's not because the tech isn't awesome -- it most certainly is -- I just really enjoy the decorative trim on my EQE350 Plus Edition One tester, which features a diamond design laid over some very nice matte wood. All the Hyperscreen functionality remains on the tinier guy, even the cool overlay components that let me fiddle with audio or seat massagers without losing turn-by-turn directions. It also puts the gauge cluster on a separate display, which feels more natural based on how it's angled. But you really can't go wrong either way.

The Hyperscreen is a fingerprint magnet. The wood trim? Not so much.

Mercedes-Benz

One of two EQE variants I get to experience is the EQE350 Plus, one of the first models that will come to the US. It relies on a single electric motor slapped out back, producing 288 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers aren't breaking down any doors, but the EQE makes the most of 'em. The torque arrives immediately, as it does with all electric cars, and the push doesn't start to peter out until I reach triple digits on Germany's unrestricted autobahn. Even climbing some sufficiently steep grades into the mountains outside of Frankfurt does very little to deter its sprightly nature.

Providing the EQE350 Plus with electrons is a 90.6-kilowatt-hour battery that offers an impressive range of 410 miles on the European WLTP cycle; expect a much lower rating from the US EPA. That WLTP figure translates to an estimated power consumption of between 15 and 19 kWh per 100 kilometers. Over a couple hours of mountain and autobahn driving, I'm seeing a little less efficiency, closer to 21 or 22, but it doesn't feel tough to maintain a light right foot and get those numbers a little lower.

If the EQE350 Plus is this much fun to drive, I can only imagine what the AMG EQE will be like.

Mercedes-Benz

Driving character is really where the EQE stands on its own. While it can play the role of a super-plush luxury car, thanks in part to one of the best air suspension systems I've tested, it's all about the EQE's ability to step into more of a sports car role. Swapping the drive mode from Comfort to Sport stiffens the suspension, making every corner more fun to dive into at increasing speeds, yet the EQE doesn't become rocky or uncomfortable at any point. Sport mode also increases the car's "sound," which is piped through the speakers for a little extra theater. It's fun.

The EQE500 sits between the EQE350 Plus and the eventual AMG EQE, and Mercedes recently confirmed that this model will also make its way Stateside. The EQE500 picks up a second electric motor, doubling the number of driven wheels and boosting output to 402 hp. It pushes harder, and for a bit longer, and the synthetic sound is way beefier, like it's cosplaying a V8. Mercedes says the EQE500 promises the same 410-mile WLTP range as the EQE350, so again, expect lower values in US-bound versions.

Attention to detail is as high as ever in the EQE.

Mercedes-Benz

The only thing that well and truly stinks in the EQE is the rearward visibility. The EQE may look like it has rear glass aplenty, but there's a rather thick swath of plastic that houses the antenna and other important bits just above the rear window. As a result, looking backward when driving is done through a concrete bunker slit. Then again, that was an EQS thing, too, but sacrifices must be made in the name of drag coefficients, I suppose.

So, perhaps the EQS and the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE aren't too different after all. Like its larger stablemate, the EQE is a properly luxurious sedan with all the capability and tech expected in a car of this caliber. It's a smooth-driving, smooth-riding EV with a dash of athleticism thrown into the mix. The EQE is every bit the electric E-Class it needs to be.


Editors' note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow's staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.