Meet the Stuttgart taxi of the future: the brand-new Mercedes EQE
Here's the Mercedes EQE. You know the drill. Just as the bigger EQS is a fish-slippery luxo-sedan with all the high-end decadences of an S-Class, so the EQE is an electric car of roughly E-Class size.
The bodywork actually shares next to nothing with an E-Class. The wheelbase is long to make more room for the battery and people. The front overhang is correspondingly short because there's no engine there.
The launch car, the EQE 350, has a single motor at the rear, making 292hp. Twin-motor four-wheel-drive versions will be added shortly.
Then the hot ones: up to 680hp is planned, says Mercedes. Clearly the AMG crowd are already well into their doctoring.
The 90kWh of battery under the EQE gives it All The Range: starting at 545km and, if you spec it right, up to some 660km WLTP. Fast charging goes up to 170kW, enough to add 240km of range in 15 minutes.
Inside, there's the option to have the same massive hyperscreen as the EQS, running clear across the dashboard. With all that space, most of the functions you use frequently are available without your having to go menu-diving. The system reacts snappily, thanks to an 8-core computer and 24Gb of memory.
Outside… well. This is a spectacular leap into the future. Especially given the ultra-conservative nature of the petrol and diesel E-Class, favourite of the respectable professional middle classes worldwide, as well as German cabbies and their Magic Trees and beaded seat covers.
The cabin stretches its bow-shaped silhouette to take up a huge proportion of the car's length. The whole profile is anti-wedge, and most of the creases you might expect have been smoothed into oblivion. This is going to take a bit of getting used to.
Unarguably, this is good for aerodynamics. That helps range, especially at cruising speed. The EQS has a Cd of 0.20, but the EQE isn't quite so slippery because it's shorter. Optional air springs will crouch the EQE's body closer to the road at speed to cut drag some more.
Reducing the number of body seams helps. The usual bonnet cutlines are absent: the 'bonnet' opens only in a workshop. No frunk here then. One of the little doors in the front wings isn't actually a charge port, but a cover for the screenwash filler.
All the steel in the body is recycled, cutting steel carbon emissions by 60 per cent. In 2022, Mercedes car factories and battery plants will all be certified carbon-neutral. The company will soon be buying its cells from carbon-neutral supplier factories too.
Interestingly, Mercedes has stuck with induction motors, which use permanent magnets and rare-earth metals. The reason is they're more power-dense than the non-magnet electrically excited type.
In usual Mercedes trickle-down fashion, many EQS and S-Class innovations will be coming to the EQE. On the options list (deep breath)… four-wheel steering… a head-up display with a perceived diagonal of 77 inches… LED matrix headlamps with 1.3 million pixels per side… a cabin HEPA pollution and microbe filter with activated charcoal of a surface area of 150 football pitches. Ah yes, the football pitch, universal layperson's metric of things that are really pretty big.
STORY Paul Horrell