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Mercedes-EQ EQE and EQS SUV launch and first drive

“We have two fantastic products to show you today,” Mercedes-Benz NZ’s GM Joerg Schmit proudly told us at the intimate NZ press launch of the new EQE [5 seater] and EQS [7-seater] SUV’s. “We’re very confident that these two models give us a huge enhancement in their [respective] segments of the market and add further to our comprehensive electric vehicle lineup that we’re able to offer in New Zealand.”

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

Firstly there’s the EQE SUV. It’s the perfect electrical all rounder, this luxury SUV has got a lot of comfort features and individuality for both around the town and for those weekend drives away. It’s based on the EQE sedan platform but offers increased flexibility and spaciousness. 

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

It has all the styling cues of the Mercedes EQ range in particular, the sloping roofline, making the car incredibly aerodynamic, with a low drag coefficient of 0.251 cd. In addition to that the EQE SUV is an incredibly manoeuvrable SUV with a turning circle of 12.3 metres (or down to 10.5 metres if you opt for rear axle steering). What’s more, though the all-electric SUV comes with standard Mercedes suspension, you can also option their air suspension with adaptive damping, which can raise the height of the vehicle by 30mm – or you could go for the EQE53 SUV that has all these options as standard.

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

When it comes to practicality, the EQE SUV also offers a high level of spaciousness, with a rear cargo area of 520l that can be expanded to a total of 1675l with all seats folded down. 

At launch, NZ is offering either the EQE300, with a single rear mounted motor (180kW/550Nm) with a range of 539km, or an EQE 350 4Matic with motors on both the front and rear axles (215kW/765Nm) and zero to 100km/h in 6.3 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz fully designs, develops and manufactures its battery system and the EQE features a 10 cell system with a usable 89kWh. It also cleverly uses the heat generated from the battery to heat the cabin, and thus increase range and charge from 10 to 80% in about 32 minutes. 

The list of features between the 300 and 350 are vast, too many to list, but special mention to the 21-inch wheels, augmented reality navigation system and a Burmester 3D sound system that is standard in all EQE models with 15 High Performance speakers and offers dolby atmos sound when linked to an Apple Music account (and if the song is in the correct format). But for those that want the huge hyperscreen, fork out a mere $6,700 and it’s yours.

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

On the matter of pricing, the EQE 300 SUV is $139,900 while the 350 is $149,900. 

How about the Mercedes-AMG model, the EQE 53 AMG? It’s the third full production AMG EQ model developed by AMG, and is the first AMG SUV model as well. It’s based upon their EVA2 platform, and is really customised by AMG with regard to suspension, braking, the dual motors, and also interior appointments, all woven together to enhance that full driving experience that customers expect from an AMG vehicle. 

From a styling perspective, the AMG 53 has a black panel grille with the vertical struts, 22-inch inch alloy wheels, while inside, you get Nappa leather sport seats with the embossed AMG logo on the headrests. 

Powering this beast are two motors that have been fully developed by AMG, 460kW/950Nm and a zero to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds. Customers can then also opt for a Dynamic+ package which will increase the kilowatts to 505, newtons to 1000 and zero to 100 in just 3.5 seconds. (The 53 comes in at just under $200,000)

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

Then there’s the EQS 450 SUV. The EQS is larger than the EQE, more power (50kW more than the EQE 350), more flexibility and more standard features. NZ is launching with an EQS 450 4Matic and one of the standout features compared to the EQE is that it’s a seven seater as standard. It also has a zero to 100km/h time of 6 seconds and close to 600 kilometres of range.

In terms of luggage space, the EQS offers the versatility of 65l up to 2020l depending on how you arrange the seats and is substantially larger overall with +20mm in wheelbase and +25mm in overall length. More size, more comfort.  

As far as features go, the, if the EQE list is huge, the EQS is ginormous, and yet you can still make it your own with additional ‘options’. And for those that want to know, the EQS 450 will be priced at $196,500. 

With the talk over, (actually there was plenty more) it was time to experience the new electric SUVs.

Our drive route had us heading south to Sunset Beach in Port Waikato, where we would regroup and head in convoy to the Te Karaka Station and Lodge, a brand spanking new retreat that’s as premium as the SUVs we were driving.

For the drive there and back we had the option of the EQE 300 or the EQE 350, (we would be doing a few loops in the EQS while at the lodge), we opted for the ‘base model’ 300 to start.

For the first stint out of Auckland I managed to nab a seat in the rear of the all-electric SUV, a location that to be honest I rarely ever venture but I’m glad I did. The seats were comfortable and the flat floor meant that my little legs had plenty of space. Head room is rarely an issue for me, but I can report that there was again plenty, and thanks to the big rear windows, no hint of claustrophobia – however, it did feel a bit lacking in the likes of things/dials to play with.

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

Things heated up at the driver change in Les Batkin Reserve as I slipped into the driver’s seat. The EQE SUV is both modern and yet familiar, offering a great sense of deja vu for those of us that have driven a Merc, for example the seat adjustment is still on the door, the gear selector is still on the steering column and everything seems to be where it should. However, it’s an all-electric SUV, so there is no ICE roar on startup and the paddles are for regenerative braking levels, not gear shifts.

The 300’s single motor gets the big SUV off the mark at a pleasurable pace and the EV’s wide footprint has it taking corners with aplomb. The cabin is ultra quiet and the steering feedback, although a little muted, is sharp and positive. The braking is firm, but in all honesty, I spent most of the drive using the various regenerative braking levels to scrub off the speed when required. 

The run from the reserve to the coast came with numerous flowing corners that allowed the EQE SUV 300 to stretch its legs but there was also a fair amount of road work happening, (and some dubious overtaking from oncoming bogans) so eye’s needed to be peeled. 

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

As expected, the electric Merc came with more than its fair share of tech, safety and driver’s aids, most of which is not too intrusive (more corrective) and too much to really play with while remaining road vigilant (I did like the traffic light cam though) – but ‘Hey Mercedes’ is there for things like cabin temp, navigation and entertainment.

Another driver swap at Sunset Beach was then followed by a slow meandering drive on unsealed/unkempt roads to Te Karaka. Located about 100km from Auckland, Te Karaka Lodge, a luxurious rural escape into nature, surrounded by breathtaking landscape and part of Te Karaka Station. The farmstay offers the quintessential beauty of rural New Zealand in relaxed comfort and understated luxury. 

Te Karaka Station and Lodge

The ‘farm to table’ lunch was three courses that I can’t tell you about for fear of salivating over the keyboard (lamb was on the menu though), however our resulting full belly’s meant that the loops in the EQS were far more leisurely than our drive there.

The EQS SUV is larger than the EQE SUV, with 7-seats and ultra refined finishes. For example, the headrest cushion swallows up the back of your head and the leather seats are more supportive than my family. 

The loop was short, just a taste to be honest, but the increased power, better suspension, rear-axle steering and overall superior drive somehow felt perfectly at home in the expansive countryside.

Mercedes-EQ EQE and EQS SUV launch and first drive

With the pending rush hour clock ticking, I returned the EQS and swapped for the EQE SUV 350 for the run home. Of course the 350 is very similar in looks to the 300, although as outlined earlier there are unique features, but the biggest difference is the power.

Bigger wheels, more power, more torque and all-wheel drive made the unsealed road drive a real thrill (well for me anyway). The yellow traction light spent a lot of time flashing away, but as a driver, I just felt in control every step of the way (I shudder to think what it would be like with traction control off). 

Getting back to civilization happened in double quick time (along with the heart rate) and I have to say that the 350 is the one to go for – until the AMG model that is.

Mercedes-EQ EQE SUV and EQS SUV launch and first drive

All in all we used up about half a tank of power, which, when you factor in the dual motor’s, enthusiastic drive and unkempt terrain, is pretty darn good – not a hint of range anxiety that’s for sure.

Looking forward to getting more time with these two that’s for sure!

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