After canceling its CES appearance, Mercedes hosted a tech event in Los Angeles last week to showcase a range of topics, from theto production-ready driver-tech support like its and . But maybe the most important part of the event — at least from a consumer perspective — was getting to take a ride in Mercedes’ new electric E-Class sedan equivalent.
The car used for this ride-along is an EQE350, which will be the entry-level model in the US. This one is nearly fully loaded with the, 20-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero tires, air suspension and 10-degree rear-axle steering, all of which will be optional. The EQE350 uses a 90.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a single electric motor at the rear wheels putting out 288 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. It feels plenty quick from the passenger seat, with a quoted 0-to-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds, and both a more powerful all-wheel-drive version and are on the horizon. With a 75% charge remaining, this US-spec car shows a range of around 270 miles, which should hopefully lead to a total range of close to 350 miles.
On the beautiful roads through Santa Monica and Malibu, the EQE’s ride on its adaptive air suspension feels firmer than an E-Class, but it’s composed over bumps and rough surfaces and isn’t too stiff. I can tell there’s less body roll than the EQS450 I drove last year, and Mercedes says its engineers designed the EQE to feel sportier than the E-Class even with the base steel suspension setup. While it should feel pretty nimble without rear-wheel steering, the available 10-degree system gives the EQE a super tight turning radius.
If you don’t like the EQS’ one-bow design language you probably won’t like the EQE, but its stubbier styling is at least a little more traditional in terms of overall shape and proportions. Like its larger electric sibling, I think the EQE’s design works the best in a real color and with the biggest wheels available. It doesn’t look it, but the EQE is about 3 inches longer than a gas-powered E-Class sedan and has a much longer wheelbase.
The cabin feels like a scaled-down EQS, too, especially given this car shares the same huge Hyperscreen display, but the EQE has unique door panels with cool armrests and slightly different dashboard and center console designs. This EQE has black MB-Tex faux leather upholstery with dark matte wood trim, which doesn’t look nearly as exciting as some of the lighter color options, and some of the lower-down plastics and trim pieces don’t feel as nice as what’s in the EQS. But more luxurious Nappa leather will be available, and the interior is at least on-par with the existing E-Class in terms of fit and finish. The rear seat is spacious and headroom doesn’t seem as tight as the EQS’ thanks to the EQE having a pretty large traditional trunk instead of a hatchback, and the standard panoramic sunroof doesn’t impact headroom too badly either.
Half in hour in the passenger seat in Malibu traffic obviously isn’t ideal for forming a definitive opinion, but on first impressions the EQE feels exactly like what I was hoping for: a smaller, more agile version of the excellent EQS. Luckily we’ll be conducting a full first drive of the EQE in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for a much more precise verdict. The EQE350 will go on sale in the US later this year with a starting price around $60,000.