2023 Mercedes-AMG EQE First Drive Review: A Whole New World
Mercedes-AMG has a history of producing some genuinely brilliant cars. High and full of excitement, AMG products are emotionally overwhelming. So when I was told I was going to Colmar, France, to drive a new AMG with over 600 horsepower, my brain was preparing for such an experience.
After driving the 2023 Mercedes-AMG EQE, my takeaways could not have been more different from expectations. This all-electric sedan is a quiet, plush highway cruiser that can lower your heart rate as well as raise it. This is the reality of an electric AMG.
Must blow up
Technically, the EQS AMG is still the “fastest” Mercedes EV with a limited top speed of 155 miles per hour. In an imaginary race on the Autobahn, it will leave behind the EQE AMG and the top speed of 149 mph. However, the EQE is the fastest electric Merc, hitting 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, 0.2 faster than its larger sibling. Even more important is that EQE is smaller and behaves better in dynamic situations because of it.
While its overall shape and design are remarkably similar to the EQS, the EQE is shorter by 10 inches overall. The wheelbase has also been cut by 3.5 inches, which means it is a smaller battery pack. This car uses a 96.0 kilowatt-hour (usable capacity), instead of the 108 kWh unit (usable capacity) in EQS.
Mercedes claims a WLTP-certified range of 327 miles, so it is safe to assume an EPA number of 300. Top charging takes place at a speed of 170 kW with a range of 112 miles in 15 minutes. We are all looking forward to seeing the entire charging basket on this car, hopefully later this year.
Although the battery pack is the same as in standard EQE variants, the engines are AMG-specific – one on the front axle and one slightly larger on the rear. With unique converters and higher currents, the motors produce more power. They are also optimized for repeated acceleration runs with improved cooling and heat-resistant ceramic coating.
Other upgrades include “lightweight” 21-inch wheels, optional ceramic brakes, rear axle steering and AMG Ride Control adaptive air suspension. All of this is impressive on paper, but more exciting is the 617 horsepower – 677 when using the AMG Race Start (launch control).
During the first 30 seconds after losing my jetlagged hiney in EQE, my preconceived notions about hardcore AMG models quickly began to disappear. The seats are incredibly comfortable. No sports buckets with thin padding here; These chairs are covered in soft nappa leather and offer heating, ventilation and massage.
Where carbon fiber is usually everywhere in an AMG interior, it is used sparingly inside the EQE. This is also because the huge “Hyperscreen” glass panel takes up the entire dashboard, but even elsewhere the materials lean more towards luxury than sports. If we play apples against apples against an E63, this cabin feels much more premium.
After fumbling to find the start / stop button (it’s in the center console), I pressed it and heard the AMG roar live. No, not like that. Like this. And I drove away in almost silence, with only the faint sound of Taylor Swift in the background thanks to my playlist.
To my surprise, the first thing that struck me in the EQE AMG is the Maybach-like driving quality. I had a similar experience when I drove the EQS 580 last year, but assumed that with the different AMG air suspension, this car would be stiffer. On the one hand, this is without a doubt the best AMG vehicle I have ever driven. It really slides across the road with a floating feeling that never gives up. The downside is that it feels very disconnected for a performance car.
Some of the tension comes back the moment you break the accelerator pedal. EQE is brought to life even more by ridiculous sounds from the speakers (see video), and increases the tempo at an alarming rate. By my unofficial estimate, both the Taycan Turbo and Audi RS E-tron GT feel faster, but this AMG is still up there with the best of them. And like both of their German rivals, the EQE does not run out as the numbers rise – keep your foot in it and jail time happens in seconds.
On winding asphalt, the EQE corners with surprisingly neutral properties, taking into account the soft suspension and curb weight of 5400 pounds. You are always aware of the car’s mass, but the rear axle steering helps it to drive less than it really is. The Michelin tires also provided decent grip, despite having a lower resistance mix to maximize range.
Ceramic brakes are an interesting suggestion for a vehicle like this, one that probably won’t see a track as often – if ever. With regeneration activated, the car physically moved the brake pedal forward, even though my foot did not touch it. This phantom movement during deceleration felt strange and made it more difficult to measure the pedal when needed. With the rain turned off, everything went back to normal and I could rely entirely on the ceramics. But deactivating the function of an electric car for natural braking feel is a bad trade-off.
The new AMG
This is the first all-electric AMG I have driven, and I did come up with it with expectations that are more in line with internal combustion vehicles. EQE AMG is a very skilled performer, but it lacks some of the edge that is historically synonymous with so many fast Mercedes products. Instead of that sharpness is a more comfortable, more luxurious car that can still get a smile on its face.
As an electric vehicle, the EQE-AMG is fantastic with solid range, good acceleration and a technologically indulgent cabin. It would be a great daily driver and still get the job done on a weekend trip. But as an AMG flag bearer, EQE is resetting the bar to what we should expect from the brand going forward.