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Road Testing The EQE Sport Sedan And EQS Sport-Limo

Mercedes-AMG’s EQE and EQS are battery-electric luxury 4-door fastbacks that deliver instant-on acceleration capable of leaving all but the most radical supercars in their whispering wakes. Both cars illustrate the inherent value of companies the Silicon Valley fanboys love to call “legacy” automakers, and in this case the value of the company that founded the auto industry.

EQE is the more aggressive of these fraternal twins, a sport sedan with acceleration and handling that just might surpass the super-sedan threshold. The longer, larger EQS is a battery-electric sport-limo. In urban and suburban settings, both will out-perform comparably sized gasoline-powered luxury sedans, both in sheer performance and the luxury of silent isolation from the oftentimes ugly world beyond the side glass.

Mercedes-AMG’s standard of excellence is obvious in the esthetics, materials and assembly of the interior, the exceptional body architecture, and the excellent human interface. Both cars are derived from the mainstream Mercedes EQ architecture, with considerable AMG noodling. The subframe and motor mountings in the AMG EQE and AMG EQS are unique to AMG to handle the larger and more potent motors. Both benefit from AMG RIDE CONTROL+ air suspension, suspension links, stiffer rear axle carrier bearings and stabilizer bars, and more. Both adhere to the established battery-electric norms: motors mounted on front and rear axle lines, torque vectoring (distribution of power) side to side to extract the utmost from tall four of those big, gummy Michelins, and batteries slung under the passenger cabin to ensure a low center of gravity.

It’s a familiar battery-electric layout, a two-motor “skateboard.” The longer, larger, and heavier EQS also has a larger battery pack, 108.4 kWh compared to the EQE’s 90.6 kWh. But first and foremost, these are Mercedes 4-doors with roomy interiors and a thoughtful compromise between plush ride and handling capability. The battery-electric powertrain is a sub-plot to a defined Mercedes narrative.

EQE is within a few millimeters of the overall length of an AMG E-class, yet its wheelbase is within a mere inches of the S-class, providing a comfortable rear seat. EQS is eight longer, with an additional four inches in the wheelbase, equaling the internal combustion S-class. In classic German fashion, the EQ was developed as an engineering “toolkit,” and thus it was easy to offer a longer wheelbase, and there are obviously two versions of that beautifully arched roofline. EQE is most significant to AMG’s electric future, as it pulls forward systems like AMG-specific motors. In this regard, EQE is a little like a Ferrari Pista or a McLaren Longtail, introducing new technologies and sub-systems, laying the groundwork for a standalone AMG electric vehicle architecture that will follow in the not-too-distant future.

EQE does not qualify as an all-out blindingly quick hyper-sedan—other much more extreme and less practical German battery-electric 4-doors can reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, even less. But EQE is a wieldy craft, and proved a delight coming down my mountain test route after photos were finished. Inputs at the steering wheel were in perfect harmony with the roll and response of the suspension in medium-speed left-right-left sequences and big bowled 180-degree corners taken at fairly high speed. Institutional knowledge is the calling card of established carmakers, and that element shines brightly in both vehicles. And with 701 lb.-ft. of electric torque spooling to all four wheels when exiting corners, EQE leaps onto straights—Mercedes-AMG knows how to put power to the ground, whether it’s from a twin-turbo V8 or two electric “pumpkins.”

“Normal” regeneration setting is best for charging on the mountain, blending smoothly with mechanical brake effort. The stronger regenerative braking proved best in the easy flow of suburban boulevards and lightly trafficked neighborhood 2-lanes, but less advantageous in unpredictable downtown traffic. The stronger regen setting is just that, mighty strong, and in many cases there’s no need to touch the brake pedal unless coming to a complete stop. Skillfully employing strong regen with the “wah-wah” throttle pedal requires a learning curve.

Sport and Sport+ settings are best for everyday run-and-gun driving in the traffic of my native Los Angeles. However, AMG has provided a sort of “overboost” function in the RACE START calibration setting with the electric equivalent of 677 horsepower for a few brief moments, allowing EQE to hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds when an owner wants a mentally refreshing rush up an onramp. It’s intense, straining the neck and squishing eyeballs. To put that bolt of speed in perspective, EQE’s time equals a top-spec Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. It’s also at least a tenth quicker than a Ferrari Roma, and only three-tenths adrift every pro soccer player’s favorite signing bonus exotic supercar, the Lamborghini Huracán. RACE START allows your Inner Hooligan a few moments of playtime in this luxurious and very practical 4-door.

The superior response rate of an instant-on 100-percent torque electric vehicle is palpable, visceral. EQE simply jumps. In Sport and Sport+, this is go-fast made easy with all 617 electric-equivalent horsepower and 701 lb.-ft. of torque flowing. In EQE, tramp the accelerator from standstill or squeeze it deeply exiting a tight low-speed mountain corner and response is immediate, enough to give a surprising thrill. Any time you need a naughty chuckle, EQE delivers.

In RACE START mode, EQS has 751 electric horsepower and more importantly, 752 lb.-ft. of torque. EQS brings a new definition to sport-limo, managing 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, about equal to the aforementioned Ferrari Roma. Blast away with a couple of tykes in the rear booster seats and you’ll hear squeals of delight.

Electric motors ringing, AMG sound system providing a bass-baritone woofle to tickle the eardrums, EQE puts power down smoothly, no sense of being on the edge. Here, you’re Jean-Luc Picard stating “Engage.” In EQE whiplash acceleration just…happens, without much sound but considerable fury. That’s not hyperbole, not really. This is a primary reason battery-electric should continue to gain favor among luxury/high-performance buyers though it will probably not gain such popularity in more pedestrian mainstream vehicles or big work trucks.

Other proven subsystems from the Mercedes Mother Ship include the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) which is logical and easy to navigate, with excellent graphics. Switchgear and airflow vents, LED interior lighting, seating structures, and assembly procedures are all directly adopted from mainstream Mercedes or benefit from institutional knowledge. Even the grumpiest of all my grumpy engineer friends and former colleagues will be forced to admit these cars are impressive.

Body architecture is a key Mercedes differentiator. Both cars are slab-sided, like Mercedes of the 1960s, which means the door frames are tall and wide. Climbing in and out of the rear seat is easy, an act of physical grace, with ample headroom and legroom. No need to crane the neck, twist the spine or study yoga to reach the back seats as in other German battery-electrics. The EQS, with four more inches of wheelbase, was nickname “The Princess Carriage,” as children appreciated the broad, flat floor that eased clambering in and out of booster chairs.

Caveats? Negatives? If you’re highly sensitive to reflected light, the 3-panel “Hyperscreen” as seen in the EQS test car can flash occasionally in bright California sunshinea, but it’s not really an issue. The answer is to opt for the standard dash seen in the EQE test car with 12.8-in. center display and pebbly, corrugated, and non-reflective Linden wood. Both designs are carefully thought out and impressive. I’d have a hard time deciding.

If you’re a mutterer like me, driving along complaining about the low quality of drivers here in California, the sensitivity of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) must be dialed back. Have the dealership’s delivery specialist set the MBUX sensitivities. Not a negative, but a caveat.

If you have a LEV2 home charging system, exit your gates each morning with 100 percent, and spend most of your day in sophisticated urban/suburban “happy bubbles” like the better parts of coastal California, there is no reason to hesitate so long as you have a hybrid or gasoline second vehicle for long-distance interstate trips. If the office parking garage has chargers, use them. Using a rapid charger, EQS can pick up 186 miles of range (300km) in just 19 minutes, more than enough to get back to the barn if a client meeting takes you far from home.

Mercedes is building 10,000 high-powered rapid charger stations around the world with partners like MN8 Energy and ChargePoint. North America is the initial focus. Also, Mercedes ownership includes access to VW’s Diesel Penance program, Electrify America. Mercedes is posing the Field of Dreams argument: If we build it, perhaps, maybe battery-electric converts will come. The real key is a home charger and access to chargers in the safe locations that fill your day.

If frequent long-distance trips of 300 to 500 miles are part of life, these cars become less attractive. LA to Los Gatos or Palo Alto? Plan on a leisurely lunch and charge session at Harris Ranch, the only civilized oasis in California’s Central Valley, right off the 5 Interstate, and map out other spots to potentially stop for a quick rapid charge session. Both cars can do it.

Impromptu ventures from LA to more remote places like, say, Sedona for a weekend mental refresher with the Energy Vortex? Take the gasoline SUV. Vegas? With a full charge in EQS and a light foot, I could reach Bellagio with 20 miles of range to spare, but remember there’s not much civilization between Claremont and Vegas, no appealing, guaranteed safe places to stop for a 20-minute rapid charge. Venturing long-range in a battery-electric requires planning with the charger app. Battery-electric works well in urban/suburban environments, and for certain day trips on civilized corridors, like LA to San Francisco. Both cars will manage my weekend forays to the wine country in Santa Barbara or SLO, even Carmel, or a trip to the San Diego Zoo.

Could I live with this car? Absolutely. In fact, both cars fit my life perfectly. If I venture beyond San Diego or Carmel, I hop a plane. Most of my life is spent in Greater Los Angeles, which includes Orange County and the Inland Empire. But I’d still want at least one 4-door gasoline vehicle in the family fleet.

At the Gold Line light rail station in South Pasadena, one sees herds of battery-electric cars parked during the day, owners riding the rail into downtown. The cars are used as suburban shuttles. The Gold Line station’s chargers allow EV ownership in multi-unit condos and townhouses.

With the new SL as proof of concept, AMG can develop and build entire vehicles from the tire treads up, adopting Mercedes subsystems where needed but with unique AMG body architecture. That’s no small accomplishment as it includes crash safety structure. AMG also has a tidy business providing powertrains to several niche carmakers. Though I’m wandering afield, it’s thrilling to think about expanded Lead/Sign-Off development programs with AMG powertrain clients Pagani and Aston Martin. What would a Pagani electric 2+2 GT look like if developed with AMG? Could AMG collaborate with this tiny Italian niche supercar brand considering the added complication of Pagani’s carbon-fiber body architectures? And how might Aston Martin define the Lead/Sign-Off process to create a battery-electric Lagonda sport-limo based on a future AMG-specific architecture? Such projects would fully exercise and expand established relations, push client companies to truly up their game, the next logical step to total collaboration. Very exciting.

For a long-time devotee of internal combustion, someone who dreamed of supercars as a child and teenager, it’s hard to admit that a battery-electric 4-door can match or surpass the luxury-performance experience of V8 and V12 cars, but this pair proves the point, and they’re not even the hottest AMG will develop in the next few years. I had an impulse to chase off the delivery drivers with a 9 iron and keep the EQS forever.

Because they are first and foremost Mercedes and AMG with the electric powertrain as a sub-plot, the ad agencies can leave behind the tiresome techno-geekdom and virtue signaling that has defined battery-electric marketing and defined the place of EVs in popular culture. There’s no need to understand the kWh ratings of the batteries. EQE and EQS are quite simply luxury 4-doors to be measured against any other comparable luxury sedans, electric or internal combustion. If you live in a “Mercedes” neighborhood, a happy bubble, Mercedes-AMG EQE and EQS will deliver.

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