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Beauty, the cliche insists, is in the eye of the beholder. And to this beholder, the 2023 Mercedes Benz EQE 350 sedan is indeed beautiful.
Part of that beauty is the riveting paint job of the test car I drove for a week in Northeastern Minnesota’s winter-like chill. It was called “Starling Blue Metallic,” and after seeing a thousand beautiful blue paint jobs on various cars over the years, this is a new shade somewhere between navy and royal that I had never seen before.
The main part of the EQE’s beauty is knowing and appreciating all the technology wrapped up in the mid-size sedan — a pure electric car with a range of more than 275 miles, made more convenient if you can locate a Level 3 rapid charge connection.
Taking the basic E-Class Mercedes sedan and stretching it out a couple of inches in length and more than 7 inches in wheelbase, the EQE seems much more spacious inside, with room for five in full, all-encompassing comfort.
The front end of the car has a closed-in area where the grille would normally be, with a large Mercedes star emblem in the middle, in case someone doubts that your sleek new vehicle is really a Mercedes.
Getting back to that “beholder” cliche, the November Car & Driver magazine does a brief, kiss-off review of the same car, and the reviewer says he found “little to savor in the dumpling-like form,” complaining that it “droops at both ends.”
Welcome to a different perception of aerodynamics. I found the car among the more beautiful vehicles I’ve ever driven.
And driving the EQE is a treat.
Of course, like all electric vehicles, the car is completely silent when you step on the – gas?
The go-pedal flings the car ahead with alarming force, if you’re not prepared for it, and the rate at which the dotted lines of the lane-dividers flash past is the best indicator of how fast you’re going. That is, if you fail to glance at the gauges, which might tip you off that your need to accelerate hard entering the freeway resulted in that “87” on the speedometer.
The car was equipped with the Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which helps the heavy vehicle stay planted and stable no matter how hard you push it.
For being 5,488 pounds, most of which is the battery pack located under the floor, the EQE, the car feels much lighter and more agile than such heft might allow. And you can adjust the driving mode to engage “sport” if you want an even sportier feel to the steering.
The fact that the active steering has 10 degrees of rear-axle steering to complement the front in tighter turns helps the feeling of agility, too. And so does the abundance of power.
Two “permanently excited” synchronous electric motors have a combined 215 kilowatt hours of output, which sends a total of 288 horsepower and an enormous 564 foot-pounds of torque to the four wheels.
After a couple days of driving the EQE several passers-by asked about the car and I told them I guessed that it must cost $120,000 or so.
When I got the information sheet for the car, I was surprised to see that the base price of the car was $78,000, and even loading every safety, comfort and convenience item into it, the sticker was still less than $90,000.
You learn how to drive an electric vehicle much like you can learn to extract maximum range from a hybrid with astute operation. If you start out with the EQE charged to 100 percent, it might indicate an estimate of 276 miles of range.
If you take it easy, stay reasonable with the heater or air-conditioning, and restrain yourself from using the heated seats and steering wheel at maximum, you can watch the range estimate go down at a reasonably slow rate.
If you want to show off that it will go 0-60 mph in 5 seconds, and have the heat, defrost and seat-heaters and steering-wheel heater all turns up, your range will decrease much faster.
We had depleted the range by about 85 percent when I headed down toward Canal Park, where there are a double row of EV chargers lined up, giving EV owners the chance to charge up by using a credit card and plugging in.
At one end of the row there is a double charger, and one of the its nozzles is a Level 3 charger that is free to the public. It was about noon, and there were only a couple of cars plugged in to any of the charge stations, so I pulled up to the proper end nozzle before realizing that only the one on the north side is Level 3.
To make it easier to reach the EQE’s plug-in receptacle, I decided to circle around and back in to that same double charger, and my wife, Joan, was waiting with another vehicle so we could go have lunch while it charged. But in the few seconds it took me to circle, a woman pulled into the slot where I had been in a Chevrolet Bolt. My wife rolled down her window and said, “Hey, we’re using that charger.”
The woman, quite rudely and very aggressively, said, “We all need that charger.”
Luckily, by then I had backed up to the charger, hopped out, and grabbed the nozzle. I told her we’d been waiting 20 minutes figuring out what we needed to do because the EQE wasn’t our car, and it was the first time we were recharging it.
Her attitude softened immediately, and she went over to one of the Level 1 chargers.
When I got plugged in, the car’s instruments told me it would take about an hour and 45 minutes to reach full charge, from the very low 15 percent remaining I had. I told the woman that, and she thanked me and said maybe she’d come back in two hours, because the Level 3 unit would take only about 15 percent of the time of the Level 1.
We had a nice lunch, and when we got back, the gauge in the EQE said we had reached 100 percent of charging capacity, which equated to 276 miles. I figured by judicious driving, I might extend that to 300 miles, if I could resist the urge to show off the car’s capabilities for friends.
Most gasoline-engine cars have a range of about 300 miles on a tankful of gasoline, so the range on an EV of about 300 is more than adequate.
A lot of drivers in the Duluth area figure it will be years before charging stations come to town. If I owned a car like the EQE, I would install a high-speed Level 3 charger at home, but there already are more than 100 charging outlets for EVs in the city of Duluth, as well as positioned at reasonable gaps between the Twin Cities and Duluth so that no EV owner need worry about range.
Next thing we need is for the City of Duluth to replace most of those Level 1 or Level 2 chargers with Level 3s – just so you don’t end up in a tug-of-war with a pushy driver of another EV. Let her go argue with the curmudgeon driving the pure-electric Dumpling.