Escondido, California –
Mercedes is a blue-chip sort of company, be it -Benz, -AMG, or -Maybach. The automaker builds vehicles in dozens of different segments and price points, but despite the diverse lineup, most Mercedes feel as precious as their Silver Arrow nickname would suggest.
The 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV is no exception overall, with the same effortless thrust and bold, futuristic styling that’s become emblematic of the automaker’s electric vehicles. For starters, it’s outrageously powerful, with 617 horsepower in normal driving but 677 hp when launching from a stop using the silly-named AMG Race Start feature. The AMG-ified EQE SUV also boasts some pretty slick in-cabin tech, as well as a good amount of space and a reasonably smooth ride on the freeway. Push it hard and some of the gilded sheen begins to dull, but AMG’s first electric SUV is still pretty darn shiny, all things considered.
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|2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV
|Dual Permanently Excited Synchronous
|677 Horsepower / 738 Pound-Feet
Gallery: 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV First Drive
The EQE SUV’s transition from mild-mannered to wild-haired isn’t hugely obvious, styling-wise, but that’s part of AMG’s appeal. The shape of the front bumper, side skirts, and rear diffuser are largely the same as they are on the EQE500 SUV, although the AMG swaps in gloss black elements on the lower body to set itself apart. The biggest visual indicators are the Panamericana-inspired vertical struts that break up the faux grille on the front end. There are also some AMG-specific wheel designs – no surprise there.
Inside, the AMG EQE SUV (say that five times fast) gets a new steering wheel with a thicker rim and more aggressive spokes, and the seats get model-specific stitched accents – whether you choose the standard MB-Tex/microfiber upholstery or the optional Nappa leather of my tester. The Affalterbach crest appearing on the nose of the car is also embossed into the headrests, with petite AMG badges appearing on the seatbacks. But as on the exterior, the myriad details only avail themselves if you’re looking close. Otherwise, this cabin shares much with its non-AMG sibling, though that’s no bad thing if you find its futurism appealing (which I do).
That subtlety doesn’t mean the spirits of AMG founders Hans Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher have left the EV alone. Underneath the tweaked design, the Mercedes is a much more exciting proposition than its conventional stablemates, starting with the model-specific electric motors that are mounted on each axle. The rear axle’s motor, in particular, receives unique engineering via a six-phase design (two windings on each of three phases) and a pull-in phase on the stator for faster response. But both front and rear units benefit from higher currents and adapted inverters to enable greater motor speed – and therefore more power.
What’s more, Mercedes-AMG gives both motors a so-called “water lance.” This cooling system feature flows liquid through the rotor shaft of both motors, keeping internal temperatures consistent and providing fast acceleration even as battery charge dwindles and ambient temperatures rise. Such cooling tricks are vital for performance EVs, even if Mercedes may start putting air-cooled batteries in its more efficiency-minded models.
The net result of those engineering efforts is the aforementioned 617 hp, as well as 701 pound-feet of torque. And if you’re hare-brained enough to option the AMG Dynamic Plus package, you get 60 more horses and 37 more torques for short periods of time. My tester was so equipped, which also meant there was an AMG Race Start drive mode (that’s Mercedes for “launch control”), and in pursuit of due diligence and nothing more, I gave it a try. I’m glad I sampled it before lunch because of the gut-wrenching acceleration off the line.
The sprint to 60 miles per hour is over in a Mercedes-estimated 3.4 seconds, a quick number by any account and faster than the manufacturer-claimed 3.7 seconds for the BMW iX M60 or the Audi SQ8 E-Tron's 4.5 seconds. All the more impressive is the ferocious, instantaneous lunge forward when you lift off the brake and let all 677 horses out of the corral – some EVs step off gently and then wallop you with power once underway, but the AMG launches like a slingshot. The thrust is addicting, and thanks to that sophisticated cooling system and winding layout, it can happen again and again if you want it to.
Old-School AMG Flavor
With such prodigious thrust available in a relatively sedate-looking offering, it’s possible to consider the flagship EQE SUV a spiritual successor to the subtle, speedy 1995 E500 or 1999 E55 AMG. Unfortunately, the comparison also extends to the EQE SUV’s handling, which pales in comparison to the brilliant straight-line speed. The sporty EV is smooth and polished in relaxed driving, with a hushed cabin and compliant suspension when cruising down the freeway, as any good German luxury car should be.
But on the curvy, undulating roads east of Escondido, California, the Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV frequently introduced my backside to the bottom of its suspension travel, even with the air springs and adaptive dampers set to their stiffest settings. As is the case with so many of us, the problem may lie in excessive weight. At 5,930 pounds, the electric AMG feels heavy and underdamped, with far too much wallowing in fast driving to inspire confidence behind the wheel.
The brakes add to the frustration. As on most other Mercedes-EQ products, the pedal itself moves correspondingly to the amount of electrical regeneration that’s being served up, giving it an inconsistent feel. And when you want to command more stopping power than the admittedly excellent predictive regeneration can serve up, your foot encounters a stiff, rubbery-feeling brake pedal, like there’s a racquetball stuck on the floorboard. There’s a workaround, and that’s to disengage electric regen altogether. But where’s the EV fun in that?
Most frustratingly, the Mercedes seems to always be on the verge of full-panic stability control intervention in sporty driving, an issue I noticed when descending a twisty canyon road. The car would seemingly apply braking on one or two wheels in the middle of a corner – without illuminating any of the electronic nanny lights, mind you – then release them suddenly to remove any trust I had built in the suspension balance until that moment. As with the Mercedes-AMG S63 E Performance I drove recently, easing the pace a bit solved the issue, but it’s frustrating to be admonished in a sporty Benz for having some mostly innocent fun.
Like many of its 1990s and 2000s forebears, the 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV is best suited to high-speed highway running, where its outrageous power output and serene cabin make the miles slip by unnoticed. Interior materials are good, especially with the appealing MB-Tex dashboard and windowsills and standard Nappa leather seating surfaces. Large swaths of the door panel – including the door pull – are done up in cheap-feeling plastic, but overall, the EQE feels appropriately polished.
Seat comfort front and rear is excellent, with an upright seating position and better visibility than one would find in the EQE sedan. That said, at 18.4 cubic feet, cargo capacity is closer to a GLA or GLC crossover than the nominally related GLE. It's also about half the amount of space in the BMW, and unlike the SQ8, there isn't a frunk. Otherwise, this would be a very comfortable place for four adults to whisk off to ports unknown.
Helping them get there is the work of a 90.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that can accept a DC fast charge rate of 170 kilowatts. Although that number is down on the BMW iX M60 (195 kW), it matches the Audi. Mercedes claims a 10-to-80-percent charge time of 31 minutes using a DC charger, with the on-board 9.6-kilowatt charger jolting the battery to 100 percent in less than 10 hours on a 240-volt wallbox.
Official EPA ratings for the AMG-ified EQE SUV are still under wraps, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see 230 miles per charge given the less powerful EQE500’s 262-mile rating. Whether that’s enough for your own lifestyle is between you and your Benz dealer, but the iX M60 can travel 274 miles with 22-inch wheels or 288 miles with 21s.
No Replacement For The Badge
Those rivals – along with the dynamic, but cheaper and less prestigious, Genesis GV60 Performance – are some of the best sporty luxury EVs on the market today, and they’re priced accordingly. The SQ8 should sneak in just under $100,000 when pricing is officially announced, and the iX M60 demands $112,495 for the pleasure. Mercedes-AMG has yet to reveal pricing and availability for its latest EV, but its less powerful sedan equivalent starts at $108,050, so the sport-ute could be a tiny bit cheaper than its Bavarian rival.
The gilded Mercedes finish also starts to flake off when you push the AMG hard on a winding road, making it a tough sell for me personally. Then again, if you believe my colleagues, the hottest Bimmer iX doesn’t feel that much faster or more interesting than its base-model sibling. And while I haven’t driven the Audi SQ8 E-Tron, it’s slower to 60 than our subject by about a second. So while the 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV may not be my choice of precious metal, at least the latest Affalterbach special feels just that – special.
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