/ 2 December 2023

Merc’s AMG EQE 43: A new chapter in the EV narrative

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The streamlined EQE 43 is one of the better EVs in terms of range. Photo: Justin Leighton

As much as we love the V8 AMGs of yesteryear, with their unforgettable soundtracks and playful characters, the Mercedes-AMG narrative, like that of most original equipment manufacturer (OEM) performance arms, is changing. 

Affalterbach’s latest creations make use of electrification within the powertrain equation, either as performance hybrids or as full-blown electric sports cars.

Right now, Mercedes retails four ranges of fully electrified products, with more on the way and, yes, some of these are AMG products, which form part of the performance repertoire alongside such names as the A45 S and the GLC63 S.

The EQE 43 we tested is based on the EQE range, Merc’s mid-size luxury saloon that sits on its own platform, much like the larger and more expensive EQS range. Its profile is relatively new to Merc pundits but as an all-new e-product. 

Where the GLA and GLB are pretty much the same car with different powertrains, the EQE is nowhere near the design of the E-Class. That is partly to do with aerodynamics, with flush door handles and a pointed design. It’s not offensive as such, but there are some oddities, especially with the rear proportions.

That said, the EQE 43 is the less powerful of the two AMG options available in South Africa. 

With a healthy 350kW and 858Nm of torque, the EQE is yet another powered-up four-door with immediately accessible power on tap. 

The power delivery isn’t as scary as an e-Tron GT or a Taycan Turbo S, and that makes the EQE more approachable and easier to drive. 

Dial it up to Sport+ and the full suite of electronic dials switches to a stream of psychedelic colours and graphics, paired with the most Star Trek soundtrack I’ve ever heard. Launch control is like being in the Kirk chair at warp one. It’s interesting to experience but annoying after a while. It’s a great trick to show your mates but the novelty soon wears off.

That’s the problem with electric cars — differentiating their characters needs to be done with sound  and OEMs are still experimenting with what works. 

I assume that the soundtrack isn’t necessarily going to roll out across all AMG models, and I hope for more options in the future, or better yet, the ability to just turn it off.

Do not let that detract from the rest of the experience. The EQE is impressive in most other areas. 

The cabin is sumptuously put together with comfortable pews, and an impeccably built dash. It is packed with cutting-edge technology, including crisp OLED screens and a customisable central display. 

Beam me up: The interior of the Mercedes-AMG EQE 43 is luxurious and comfortable with the only drawbacks being the soundtrack and excess of flashing lights. Photo: Justin Leighton

The AMG line multifunction sport steering adds to the usability options. 

However, the abundance of cabin lighting and screens can become overwhelming at night, leading to sensory overload. I found myself turning off the central display screen as a means to rest my eyes and focus on enjoying the drive. That’s really where the point of quality and luxury is driven home …

The silence of the electric motor heightens the experience, and with Merc’s Arithmetic suspension, the ride is supple and comfortable but also agile when the need arises. 

There is some weight to the car, which you’ll only feel when it is pushed to the edge. 

There’s nary any playfulness or rear tail-happiness, which is a shame in a sense. That’s not the AMG we grew to love all those years ago, but as mentioned before, times are changing and ranges are being differentiated to suit particular tastes.

If you buy a EQE, you’ll receive a wall-box charger for your home that can charge the vehicle at 22kW off three-phase power. This is decent enough, but many homes are wired as single-phase units. 

I would advise you to invest in three-phase power if you intend to embark on an electric car journey. It makes life a lot more “normal” —unless your routine allows you to use the few fast chargers close to home or work. 

In terms of real-world driving range, our best efforts got us to 433km with a balanced mix of city driving and then a 344km jaunt to Bela-Bela and back, leaving Johannesburg with 96% battery power. The EQE is certainly one of the better cars in terms of range, with a 90.5kWh battery capacity.

Besides the excessive graphics and colour overload, the only other negative from our test of the EQE 43 was the rear quarters. 

The expectation was that the EQE would exhibit the same sort of legroom and headroom as, say, the E-Class. That’s not the case. 

Sure, the E-Class is 129mm longer than the EQE but it’s the headroom that is noticeably different, and this is mainly due to its sloping roofline, which was made to favour aerodynamic efficiency. 

The boot space, too, is compromised in the EQE, which is almost 110 litres smaller than the E-Class saloon.

The EQE 43 is a hugely progressive and accomplished product, a good story in the electric car narrative. 

At its price, however, it is in the territory of quite a few equally impressive, and even more exciting, options. 

One continues to hope for more government support regarding electric car imports so you and I get improved access to them. Either way, the EQE 43 is definitely worth considering, if you have the outlay.