Automobiles Behind The Wheel of The Future: The Mercedes AMG EQE 500 EVIn a sea of Teslas, our West Coast correspondent Gary Boulanger tests a veteran auto maker's foray into the future.
- Words Gary J Boulanger
- Images Henri Boulanger
“Wow, I feel like I just sat down behind the wheel of the future,” my soon-to-be-former co-worker Sarah said after sliding into the driver’s seat of the 2023 Mercedes AMG EQE 500 4MATIC sedan. “Tell me everything you know about this EV…”
Having just taken delivery of this vehicle one hour prior, I hadn’t accumulated enough knowledge to offer a reasonable response, quickly deferring to “that’s what the next few days will gain me” because, after nearly four years working for a corporation, it was my last hour of my last day, and I had a lot on my mind.
Imagine putting in your two-week notice, telling anyone who’s interested that the “wild west of freelancing beckoned me back into its everloving arms”, then showing up on the last day of work driving an $86,000 sedan you plan to drive down California’s Central Coast with your wife two days later as part of your new gig? There was a certain Cheshire cat grin on my face at Two Doors where a small group gathered for drinks and appetizers before sending me on my merry way.
Several weeks prior, a handful of co-workers had the chance to drive with me in the Ford F-150 Lightning I got for review, including a few VPs and the President of our power sports division, all truck owners. My plan for the week with the AMG EQE 500 4MATIC was one of discovery, both on the performance and range sides. Drowning in an ever-present sea of Teslas here in Silicon Valley, it was intentional to test something from one of the world’s oldest auto makers.
Introduced in 2016, the Mercedes EQ line of electric vehicles has expanded to include the EQE, introduced in September 2021, with six versions (300, 350, 350+, 500, AMG 43 and AMG 53), based on 90.6 kWh batteries offering a range of 310 – 410 miles depending on the version. From clever magnets to battery software that can update over the air, this is an EV Mercedes refers to as “from and for the future.” The EQE 500 4MATIC I drove sends 402 hp to the rear wheels or all four, according to Mercedes, while electrified 4MATIC all-wheel drive can adapt 10,000 times per minute.
With available 4-wheel steering, the rear wheels can turn up to 10 degrees to tighten low-speed turns by up to six feet. At speed, all the wheels can turn the same way for more stable, swifter lane changes and ‘evasive’ maneuvers. The multi link suspension, invented by Mercedes-Benz, delivers refined agility from all four wheels. Available AIRMATIC® can adapt at each wheel to loads, roads, and drive modes. Speed-based lowering can enhance range and handling.
AMG-specific electric motors at the front and rear axles provide higher engine speeds and even more power, resulting in up to 677 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque (with the AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package).
And, the AMG EQE’s battery uses intelligent recuperation for energy recovery. Plus, a thermal management system promises lightning-quick charge times by heating or cooling the battery while driving. To top it off, the AMG high-performance braking system features an i-Booster brake booster which combines electric recuperation with highly efficient hydraulic braking.
AMG-specific electric motors at the front and rear axles provide higher engine speeds and even more power, resulting in up to 677 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque
For decades all AMG-badged Mercedes vehicles have focused on performance, and the EQE 500 4MATIC’s exterior design features one-bow lines and a cab-forward design. The black panel grille with chrome vertical struts and AMG lettering characterize the front view, while the side panels, rear bumper and spoiler give it a distinctly aerodynamic effect to reduce drag and noise, paramount for an EV sedan boasting more than 300 miles of range.
Inside, cozy AMG seats, an AMG Performance steering wheel, sport pedals, and topstitching throughout welcome driver and passenger. Plus, its Electric Intelligence within the Mercedes-Benz User Experience gets you on the fastest, most convenient route – including charge stops – based on numerous factors, reacting dynamically to traffic jams or a change in driving style.
MBUX Navigation with Electric Intelligence can optimize your route, adapt driving assists, and adjust to traffic on the fly to make your journey faster and easier, including charging stops. It can overlay directions on live video of a turn, or project them via Head-Up Display, which I found to be eerily useful after my brain adjusted to using it.
Mercedes me Charge helps simplify locating, using and paying for charging on all major US networks. Purchasing or leasing a new EQE includes complimentary 30-minute sessions at Electrify America DC fast chargers for two years. Along with up to 300-plus miles of driving range and brisk response, an industry-advancing charging ecosystem offers over 60,000 public charge points nationwide with the assurance of green energy. Intelligent navigation sets a new standard for electric motoring simplicity.
Our experience was one of discovery and patience. First, while the extensive public charge points highlighted on the vehicle’s navigation dash provide an initial peace of mind, finding available fast chargers in EV-friendly California is still a challenge worth noting.
When booking an Airbnb in a 100-year-old converted barn near Templeton – 150 miles south of our home in Mountain View – I asked the owner if they offered EV charging for a non Tesla, which they said they did. Turns out they didn’t (!), so we were left with using the Mercedes-supplied slow wall outlet charger, which gained us a measly 10 percent of range after nine hours of charging. With 44 percent charge, we found a fast charging station at the Bank of America in Paso Robles, 10 miles away.
Relieved to find a solution but concerned that all six stations were occupied when we arrived, we parked the car and asked a woman sitting behind the wheel of her VW ID.4 how long it typically takes to recharge to at least 95 percent or more.
“Normally about 40 minutes,” she replied with a smile after putting down her book, “but it’s getting closer to an hour. Not sure why it’s taking so long…”
As we were making friends on our charging discovery, another ID.4 driver pulled up, offering advice and providing an opportunity to make friends. Fifteen minutes later a spot opened up, and we backed in to begin the fast charging. ID.4 driver number two explained this was somewhat typical of his fast-charging experience, and he lived near Fresno in Clovis, about 120 miles northeast.
A few minutes later another EV owner ambled up to disconnect his Porsche 918 Spyder mid-engine plug-in hybrid, a lovely car I’ve only seen on the highway near my home several years ago on my commute home from San Francisco. He was less chatty when I asked how many other Porsches were in his garage, only replying ‘plenty’ (his limited-edition 918 started at $845,000 in December 2014). ID.4 friend number two took his spot, and 20 minutes later we said our good-byes and pointed the EQE toward Cambria.
After cruising traffic free heading west on CA-46 toward the Pacific Ocean, we stopped in Cambria for lunch. With few if any charging stations ahead on our journey north toward Santa Cruz, we found a standard charging station at the Bluebird Inn on Main Street, where I stayed the previous weekend with pals on a motorcycle trip.
Taking a cue from our new charging station friends back in Paso Robles, we enjoyed a slow-paced lunch, savoring the warm sunshine while the battery received an hour’s worth of juice before enjoying the sapphire blue scenery to our left with 197 miles until home.
Driving a luxury EV from Mercedes was a treat; the challenge is how to maintain comfort, control and speed while enjoying every switchback and s-curve along one of the most beautiful and iconic highways on the planet.
After 20 minutes of experimentation I settled on Intelligence mode, which mixed adaptive cruise control with light restraint; a slight press down on the accelerator was all I needed to keep momentum rolling while Jean napped. I found myself trusting the vehicle more, and was rewarded with extended range due to the undulating climbs and descents along our route (speeds rarely top 55 mph, so not as much of the vehicle’s energy is needed compared to bombing along a major interstate at 80 mph or more). For the remainder of our journey I sat back in comfort and enjoyed the scenery, deftly nudging the wheel and appreciating the performance of the electric motors and quiet hum of the tires on the asphalt born from more than a century of fine automotive craft and refinement.
It’s a strange feeling ‘sharing’ driving duties with a vehicle, but as Sarah mentioned at Two Doors just three days prior, the future has arrived. I’m just happy to experience it behind the wheel of a refined Mercedes AMG, sitting next to my best friend as we head into uncharted waters together.