The 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE Brings a Golden Age of Luxury EVs | Tech News

The 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE Brings a Golden Age of Luxury EVs

It looks bland but has more power than most sports cars.

| Updated on: Jul 13 2023, 10:28 IST
Mercedes-AMG EQE
The Mercedes-AMG EQE boasts oodles of torque and power enough to hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph. (Bloomberg)

Mercedes-AMG unveiled its EQS and EQE electric sedans in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Now we have AMG's first electric SUV, the 2024 EQE, which begins deliveries this fall. It comes with all-wheel drive, seating for five and two electric motors providing 677 horsepower—more than most sports cars. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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Its body style looks like most other midsize luxury SUVs: smoothed like an innocuous jelly bean. But with high-end, state-of-the-art technologies under the hood and in the cabin, the EQE spells the dawn of the golden age of electric vehicles.

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Homely Exterior

Mercedes-Benz is in the midst of the most exciting time in its 97-year history. It's making vans with interiors like yachts and $200,000 stealth-wealth sedans. It will soon be adding ChatGPT to its infotainment system and will become the first German automaker to adopt Tesla Inc.'s charging plug, allowing future Mercedes owners to use Tesla's Supercharger network. (Mercedes drivers will gain access to more than 12,000 of the chargers across North America beginning in 2024.) And it's released some of the most inspiring concept cars in recent memory.

When I first saw it, the EQE looked like it would fall pretty far down on that list of cool things. Every edge that could've made it look dynamic has instead been patted down like an indeterminate mound of soft butter. Remove the oblong grille stamped with vertical struts, the oversize Mercedes three-pointed star plastered in the middle of it and the AMG emblem on the hood, and the EQE would be difficult to place.

But then I got inside. I drove it all over Los Angeles like a busy parent running late to soccer practice. After a week, I may have fallen in love. Not a passionate or obsessive love, but a comfortable love. Not a fling. That's why I say the EQE signifies the start of the halcyon days for EVs.

Electric SUVs in particular present the biggest potential market for EV makers. Last year more than half of the 25 bestselling vehicles in the US were SUVs. But until recently, drivers who wanted an electric version faced offerings from tech startups whose vehicles lacked the refinement, quality and consistency required in anything priced and sold as “luxury”—and they often were positioned as such. (Others, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Volkswagen ID.4, have received positive reviews, though those aren't luxury SUVs.)

Both Audi and BMW already produced a decent electric SUV in the past year. Jaguar has been making is own since 2018. Mercedes-Benz introduced the electric EQB in 2021. Now that Mercedes-AMG has added the EQE, we've reached a happy grouping. The luxury electric SUV segment is blossoming.

Tech Done Right

The best thing about the interior of the EQE—and about the whole vehicle, really—is the big control center, which Mercedes calls the MBUX Hyperscreen. I call it the best infotainment system currently on the market. It looks like a single curved screen that's embedded in the dashboard and extends from A-pillar to A-pillar inside the car, but it's actually three screens under a single glass cover that makes them look like one.

I loved the magic screen's ability to deflect glare from the sun and resist prints after repeated sticky-finger jabs onto its surface. Those points alone set it on a level superior to most.

I used it to listen to news as I drove to the newsroom. I ran through its multiple massaging and comfort settings on my way home. I searched its precise, intuitive maps to get to Musso & Frank on Hollywood Boulevard and a bespoke leather atelier on Melrose. Those functions, of course, aren't new to Mercedes. But now, thanks to new software, they're always easily accessible, adapted to my preferences and set in the top screen level of the computer rather than buried behind lesser-used functions. That so-called zero layer—preferred icons upfront—meant I never had to flip through multiple screens to find the task I wanted. Bluetooth synced instantly (even the passenger has a screen to control the car's creature comforts as well). There's something delightful in making hands-free phone calls while navigating the tonier corners of Beverly Hills. I think it's the only time I don't mind talking on the phone.

Behind the Steering Wheel

The steering wheel is another highlight. As with the Mercedes-AMG S63 Hybrid, if you tend to eschew new technology, you may think it's gone overboard with buttons. But give it a chance. I had plenty of time to contemplate it because, as you know, “driving in LA” is code for “sitting in traffic.” If you ever want some quality time to sit motionless, head east on Santa Monica Boulevard at rush hour. You'll have plenty of opportunities to sit still. Or kill time exploring the functions in your car's tech systems.

Wrapped in Nappa leather and microfiber with a flattened bottom and a perforated grip, the wheel has aluminum paddles for selecting power recuperation levels. Menus on the left side can be programmed with roughly 15 information and setting options. This had the obvious benefit of allowing me to control pretty much everything in the car without moving my hands from 9 and 3.

The EQE has five drive modes, which can be selected using steering wheel buttons. Sport and SportPlus were the loudest, though I used them more for their extra oomph as I pressed the accelerator than for their enhanced synthetic “engine” note. (You can use either steering wheel buttons or the central display to select sound settings including “balanced,” “sport,” and “powerful.”)

The EQE boasts oodles of torque and power enough to hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 149 mph. It has active rear-axle steering that enhances handling and allows a better turning radius; ride-stabilization systems minimize body roll and aid precision when turning corners. So it feels nimble for its size and weight. It surprised me how quickly it would drop all other traffic as I accelerated up highway on-ramps. But in general it lacks any sense of driving personality; I've yet to encounter an EV that doesn't. Its electromechanical power steering is instantaneously responsive but forfeits a tangible connection with the car; even the click of the direction indicators is simulated, not the result of an actual mechanical act. The EQE gives fast, if soulless, compliance.

Which doesn't bother me at all. A family SUV should be compliant. Who cares if it doesn't make me feel obsessed every time I get behind the wheel? That's what sports cars are for. The EQE delivers exactly what it promises: smooth, strong power, high-quality creature comforts and the best infotainment in its category. It's the best we've seen yet in a luxury electric SUV. Let the good times roll.

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First Published Date: 13 Jul, 09:57 IST