The Top Gear car review:

Mercedes-EQE 350+ 4Matic

R2 307 180

Lerato Matebese
March 15, 2024
No items found.

All Mercedes-Benz - just electrified




Spacious cabin and boot. Decent travel range. Excellent build quality.


Regenerative braking could be better. Harsh ride quality.

What is it?

One can argue that electric cars are endemic to premium brands. Think about it. Almost every premium car manufacturer has one, or a few, voltage-powered cars in its arsenal and I reckon that there’s method in this madness.

At least this was the case a decade ago and it accelerated after the EU’s announcement to ban ICE (internal-combustion engine) cars by 2035. 

Of course, this hasty move seems to be catching up with the industry. 

Car manufacturers have poured a great deal of investment into EVs but it is now evident that they comprise only 30% of the total vehicle market, which is in stark contrast to many manufacturers’ forecasts for their respective model ranges.

One of the biggest challenges remains charging infrastructure, which in South Africa is still rather sporadic, if you intend to travel slightly longer distances, something that is more than likely for the average motorist. 

The relatively high capital outlay for EVs compared to conventionally powered vehicles is another significant obstacle and their high depreciation rate makes it worse. 

The latter can be attributed to the low demand for EVs in general. 

Another aspect we rarely chat about is the degradation of the batteries, depending on use. 

Much like that in your smartphone, the performance of EVs’ batteries diminishes with age, changes in ambient temperatures, etc. It is something you ought to be mindful of, particularly if you are considering buying a used EV. 

That said, we managed to spend some time behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ SUV, which takes the fight to the Audi e-tron 55 S-line, BMW iX xDrive 50 and, to an extent, the Jaguar iPace. 

The Jag is the oldest vehicle here, having been launched in 2019, and I have it on good authority that the current model will remain on sale for a little while longer before we see a replacement — if we do at all.

Back to the EQE 350+ SUV, though, and it is obvious the Stuttgart marque has taken a cookie-cutter approach to its EQ SUV range. 

I did a double-take after taking delivery of the EQE as it looked uncannily similar to its EQS SUV sibling, right down to the front and rear styling, not to mention the cabin. 

It is great for economies of scale for the brand but the range does lack distinction for the onlooker. 

That said, the styling is fairly consistent with the rest of the current Merc design brief, with the blacked-out “grille” being the only telltale sign this is the electric model in the lineup. 

There are mostly rounded surfaces, probably in the interests of efficient aerodynamics, while the AMG Line does add some elegant, if not entirely sporty, undertones to the package. 

Next: Driving

Layout, finish and space

Hopping into the cabin, you are met with the intergalactic architecture that we experienced in the EQS SUV and EQE 43 and this one easily ranks among the classiest of the German triumvirate. 

It is fairly airy and minimalist in its approach, with very little in the way of physical inputs, instead opting for the haptic variety. Thankfully, these are kept mostly on the steering wheel but they are fiddly to use. 

Hopefully, the firm can return to physical buttons, which are not only better for functionality but also add a tactile feel to the vehicle. 

Most of the vehicle’s functionalities are embedded in the infotainment screen, which remains intuitive to use and has huge, but uncomplicated, depth to the various functions. 

Space comes in spades for both the interior and the boot side, the latter yielding a 520-litre cavern to swallow up luggage and groceries and some awkward oddments. 

You can stretch it to 1 675 litres with the rear seats folded forward, which is handy for those long items, such as curtain rails, golf clubs, and fishing rods. 

So, the EQE SUV has the practicality aspect thoroughly licked.

Next: Driving

What is it like on the road?

Powering this e-mobile is an 89 kilowatt-hour battery that is good for around 460km on a full charge. 

This is very good when compared to the BMW iX and trounces the Audi e-tron, in which we battled to eke out more than 350km. 

Charging at a 60kW DC charger from 25% to full took close to two hours, which is quite a lengthy period but, then again, I did run the battery down in the interests of credible, consumer-focused reporting. 

To extract the most out of the EV ownership experience, you need to trickle charge from your mains at home overnight and when the electricity demand is off-peak. Public DC chargers, although convenient, are vulnerable to load-shedding as the heavy current dispensed requires power directly from the grid. 

At my residential tariff rate, it cost me around R295 to charge the EQE to full, which gave me between 430km and 460km of travel range. That is still substantially cheaper than diesel or petrol. 

The vehicle’s power, meanwhile, might not set your hair on fire with 215kW and 765Nm, which pales in contrast to the BMW iX xDrive 50’s 386kW and 765Nm. 

And it is here that I feel the EQE has its work cut out for it. While it does ride well on glass-smooth surfaces, the ride quality gets decidedly fidgety when it’s presented with any road imperfections. 

It’s unyielding, sending undesirable shockwaves into the cabin and making its hefty 2.5 tonnes of weight known. I reckon a much softer spring rate or better-calibrated air suspension could work a charm on the damping front. 

Another area that needs attention is the regenerative braking system, which sadly uses the brake pedal, so one can feel the pedal self-depressing to the floor. This means that the final few centimetres of pedal travel as you slow down are nonexistent as the pedal becomes too hard to depress further. 

It could catch an untrained driver unawares, especially if you add inclement weather and a downhill gradient to that cocktail mix. 

Next: Owning

Running costs and reliability

At a price of R2 307 180, the EQE 350+ 4Matic does err on the slightly more expensive side compared to its BMW iX compatriot, which tips the pricing scale at R1 735 000 in the form of the xDrive40, while the even more powerful variant xDrive50 weighs in at R2 350 000. So, in essence, the Merc EQE has its work cut for it right off the bat, pricing and aforementioned issues notwithstanding.

Next: Verdict

Final thoughts

What the EQE has in its favour, though, is the excellent cabin, which is well laid out and firmly screwed together — and that driving range. 

But it falls behind the Beemer in the way it drives. It is simply not as well polished and damped, which is a great pity when you consider that it is priced within a whisker of the more powerful BMW. 

That is not to say it errs on the side of tacky — quite the contrary — but it simply isn’t the benchmark in this premium electric car segment.


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