Mercedes' performance division enters a new era of pure electrification with a 677bhp saloon

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The Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 is Stuttgart's second proper stab at an electric AMG production car, after the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53.

E-Class-based cars have always been the archetypal AMGs, so does that apply in the electric era, with the equivalently sized Mercedes EQE?

The 328V battery supports AC charging at rates of up to 22kW and DC charging at a searing 170kW if you can hook it to a sufficiently potent device. That will give up to 112 miles of range in just 15 minutes.

AMG certainly got into electric performance cars very early. The pioneering Mercedes-AMG SLS Electric Drive was launched in 2014, when its 738bhp peak output was deeply impressive and its claimed 120-mile range was pretty respectable for an off-the-shelf EV. It also cost £355,000, so unsurprisingly AMG produced only a handful of them.

Eight years later, AMG has launched another EV, the EQE 53, which makes 617bhp in standard form and up to 677bhp (briefly) when equipped with the AMG Dynamic Plus Package, has a range of up to 321 miles and comes with the extra practicality of four seats and luggage space. UK pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but we’re told to expect it to be around £115,000 – less than a third of the cost of that SLS.


But the EQE 53's arrival raises another question. How, beyond raw performance – of which this car and its bigger sibling, the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53, have a super-abundance – will the tuning division distinguish its EVs from the regular Mercedes versions on which they're based?

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There's certainly no shortage of power. The EQE 53 uses the same 90.6kWh battery as the regular Mercedes-Benz EQE 350+ but gets two more powerful AMG-specific electric motors featuring new windings and the ability to handle more current. AMG claims a 3.4sec 0-60mph time for the regular EQE 53 and 3.2sec when the car is fitted with the Dynamic Plus Package, which adds launch control – figures that, if delivered, will make this sizeable saloon one of the fastest-accelerating models that the Mercedes clan has ever produced.


mercedes eqe 53 review 2023 07 dash

Inside, the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 is very familiar from the standard EQE. You will need to be a keen spotter to distinguish it from a standard AMG Line car, since the only real difference is the AMG badges on the seats.

In the UK, the seats are upholstered in either black or brown leather and get the full gamut of adjustment as standard. They're very comfortable over long distances and offer decent lateral support.

Depending on whether you choose the Night Edition or the Touring, the interior will have a slightly different ambience. The former gets a grained wood dashboard, while the latter gets the sort of wood that you might find on the deck of an expensive yacht. Both options are quite appealing, if slightly incongruous in a performance saloon.

For an extra £7000 or so, you can replace the lot with the Hyperscreen, which effectively adds an extra screen in front of the passenger. As in the EQS, we're not convinced that it adds all that much, since the standard MBUX multimedia system has all the functionality you could wish for and works really rather well for an all-touchscreen system.

All the tech does appear to have come at the expense of at least some of the material quality that Mercedes has used to traditionally distinguish its cars. The EQE’s fixtures and fittings feel a little plasticky and cheap in places, even if in others its standard on material fit and finish is higher.

Outright interior space is unchanged from any other EQE, which means it's roomy enough for four adults but lacks the ultimate spaciousness, airiness and hatchback boot of the Tesla Model S.


mercedes eqe 53 review 2023 10 dynamic

On many levels, the EQE 53 is deeply impressive. Its performance feels every bit as serious as the numbers suggest: it can deliver the sort of forces that relocate internal organs and cause passengers to squeal involuntarily.

Peak power is restricted in less aggressive dynamic modes, to 308bhp in Slippery, 493bhp in Comfort and 555bhp in Sport. The full 617bhp is available only in Sport+, with the overboost to 677bhp coming only when using the Race Start launch function. But across the board, it feels hugely fast.

As with other potent EVs, performance is about response as well as pure power. The EQE 53’s accelerator is better regarded as a fader switch for longitudinal g-force than a conventional throttle, because there's no gap between adding pressure and feeling the response. If anything, the EQE 53 makes a point of giving you that 617bhp instantly.

Then again, haven’t we seen all of this before? The Porsche Taycan Turbo did it three years ago and the 1020bhp Tesla Model S Plaid has just rendered any other claims of head-scrambling performance moot.

And unlike with traditional AMGs, there's no V8 engine noise to keep you entertained. The engineers must have felt the EQE needed something, because they seemed proudest of the sound symposer system that plays a generated noise both internally and externally through speakers, the sound altering in volume and pitch according to the car's speed and the position of the accelerator. It even plays an idlelike throb when the car is stationary.

The sound isn’t trying to replicate an engine but has various futuristic elements instead. I reckon I heard both lightsabers and jet engines at different stages. The problem for me is that it just doesn't really work. As with other artificial symposers, it feels like a gimmick, obviously fake.


mercedes eqe 53 review 2023 03 panning rear

So, where the EQE 53 needs to shine is with its chassis. Given the Model S Plaid is rather unsophisticated in this respect, there are places to be made up here.

Standard-fit four-wheel steering makes this relatively large car fairly wieldy, and despite the EQE's porky kerb weight of 2600kg, its equally standard air suspension maintains impressively good body control over everything from a gentle schlep to being thrown along a mountain road. The ride stays composed when the chassis is asked to deal with big vertical movements. However, while we found the ride to be excellent when we drove the AMG EQE in Germany, rougher UK roads uncovered a fair bit of thumpiness.

Much of the mass is in the low-mounted battery pack, and the low centre of gravity can certainly be felt in the way the EQE 53 turns and changes direction. There is a small amount of discernible lean under harder progress, but AMG engineers say there isn’t an active anti-roll system because there's no need for one.

When you have the space, the stability control’s more permissive Sport mode gives an obvious rearward bias to the four-wheel drive system’s torque delivery and helps wake up the chassis. When you get 2.6 tonnes of Mercedes sliding, though, it feels rather clumsy and tokenistic. On narrower roads, the EQE's mass and size can always be felt, and the steering feels leaden compared to the Taycan's much more natural helm.

AMG’s decision to offer carbon-ceramic brakes as an option might seem like overkill, given the car can harvest up to 260kW of regenerative energy, the speeds that the EQE 53 can register on even the smallest straight made me glad of their presence. While their power is awesome, the pedal feel leaves much to be desired.


mercedes eqe 53 review 2023 01 cornering front

As with most Mercedes in the UK, the pricing for the AMG EQE is exceedingly simple but always expensive. The lower-powered EQE 43 isn't offered here, just the EQE 53 in either Night Edition or Touring form.

Both cost £114,750, and the only optional extras are a range of premium paints and the Hyperscreen.

The car has 90.6kWh of usable battery capacity, which is good for 280 miles of range on the WLTP cycle. However, on our test drive, the economy hovered around 2.4mpkWh, which translates to 217 miles. That's a long way off the 3.3mpkWh and 301 miles we saw when we road tested the Model S Plaid.


mercedes eqe 53 review 2023 12 static rear

The standard Mercedes EQE, in single-motor 300 and 350 form, has a clear mission: to cut through the air with minimal drag in order to be a comfortable, efficient, long-distance EV. Given that all UK-market EQEs are on air suspension, it does this really rather well, even if it is overpriced compared with rivals.

Adding another motor, oodles of power and a sportier suspension tune erodes these strengths, and while the EQE 53 impresses as a piece of engineering, it can't match its rivals’ claims to fame or generate the kind of  visceral emotion that normally comes with AMG branding.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester
As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.