All-electric Benz poised to replace guzzling sibling

Peter Atkinson |

An SUV by name, the Mercedes EQE SUV with its sleek lines, is unlikely to see much off-road work.
An SUV by name, the Mercedes EQE SUV with its sleek lines, is unlikely to see much off-road work.

If the purpose of electric cars is to reduce emissions, this new offering from Mercedes-Benz might prove to be the ultimate example.

The German marque’s all-electric, emissions-free EQE SUV – a hulking soft-roader with a surprisingly frugal nature – will arguably do more to save the planet from filthy carbon smoke than any other vehicle of its type.

Why? Well, it’s more to do with what it takes away from the market, rather than anything it does itself.

Up to this point Mercedes’ full-sized SUV option, the fabled GLE, has been one of the brand’s dirtiest models on the road. 

With its glorious but flawed twin turbocharged, V8-powered internal combustion engine, the big AMG GLE53 chugged down premium unleaded at a ferocious pace (almost 12 L/100km) and in the process created 276 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

Safe to say the GLE has never been one of the more planet-friendly vehicles on the market.

Never mind, though, because that’s all about to change with the arrival of the all-electric, emissions-free Mercedes EQE. 

If that all sounds a bit too good to be true, it’s not. 

The EQE most certainly looks and feels futuristic and not in the slightest bit lacking in social graces.

Yes, it is big, heavy and packed with luxury fittings.

It is impressively fast, roomy and offers pleasingly nimble driving dynamics.

Yet best of all is the knowledge that driving it does more for the environment than just about any other vehicle on the market, by replacing the fossil-fuel burning V8 rumble of its predecessor, the GLE.

This all-new Benz arrives in four model grades and in lock step with the sedan version of the EQE. The SUV offers four versions, including the EQE350 tested here.

The range starts from a reasonable $134,900 for the entry-level EQE300 (two-wheel-drive) up to the performance-enhanced EQE53, costing $189,900 and with the kind of slingshot performance that’s come to be expected from the aforementioned V8.

The tested EQE350 4Matic+ SUV – quite a gobful, but quite a car – delivers all-wheel grip and a range claimed at 539km.

There was much to like about this machine and very few negatives. 

The EQE’s ability to accelerate at a ferocious rate, despite its considerable size and weight, and to do it in sweet silence is special, to say the least.

Twin screens feature in Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV.
Two large flat screens are the focus of the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV interior (HANDOUT/MERCEDES-BENZ AUSTRALIA)

It pours in the luxury and technology as might be expected of a car of this pedigree. Twin big screens are impressive – one at the top of the centre stack, the other where the traditional instrument cluster once rested. 

The bigger of the two screens is fine but the smaller display requires plenty of adjustment before reading through the arc of the steering wheel.

That task is made simpler by the electric steering column adjustment, as well as the endless adjustment of the electric, suede-clad bucket seats.

Don’t be fooled by the sleek silhouette the EQE has loads of cargo and passenger space which belies its curves.

But the exterior sidestep that protrudes from beneath the door sill and runs the whole distance between front and rear wheel arch looks out of place and feels even more so. 

Its size makes it virtually impossible to step the whole way from the car to the footpath – and vice versa – without whacking an ankle or dirtying clothes.

And it’s pointless, anyway. The car’s 21-inch inch wheels, clad in low-profile tyres will likely never see so much as a decent puddle, in keeping with its ‘clean’ motoring profile.

 MERCEDES-BENZ EQE35 4MATIC+ SUV

* HOW BIG? A purpose-built EV soft-roader with sleek lines, outsizing the GLE it will eventually replace.

* HOW FAST? The twin-motor (four-wheel drive) model will reach the speed limit in a blurry 3.7 seconds. Remarkable.

* HOW THIRSTY: Mercedes claims more than 500km of electric range.

* HOW MUCH? It’s remarkable that one of Mercedes-Benz’s flagship models can be had for almost less than $140k – but this one can.

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