Move over, GLE 63 S: this is the fastest-accelerating AMG SUV model yet

The Mercedes-AMG EQE 53 SUV is the firm's latest performance model and it's aimed at the BMW iX M60 and Audi SQ8 E-tron.

Unlike the lesser EQE 43, which uses an upgraded version of the EQE 350's drivetrain, this fast SUV is powered by AMG's largely bespoke 400V electric drivetrain, with specially developed motors front and rear.

The AMG-specific motors are combined with a 90.6kWh lithium ion battery, which can be charged at up to 170kW. Together, they provide a combined 617bhp and 701lb ft of torque as standard, with 677bhp and 738lb ft available in combination with an optional AMG Dynamic Plus package, which was fitted to our test car.

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The front-mounted motor can be disengaged on light throttle loads for added energy saving and reduced mechanical drive losses. Further energy-saving measures include a new heat pump that requires less electrical energy than the more conventional compressor used by the EQE 53 and EQS 53 saloons.

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This car might tip the scales at 2615kg, but it certainly has no lack of power. In any of its five driving modes, the EQE 53 feels wonderfully determined. The power is restricted in all modes apart from Sport Plus, where the headlining 677bhp becomes available. So configured, Mercedes-AMG claims a 0-62mph time of just 3.5sec. For comparison, the EQE’s petrol sibling, the 604bhp Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S, requires 3.9sec.

With two electric motors and all that torque, there are explosive replies to big throttle inputs here and the four-wheel drive system places the EQE 53 SUV's reserves to the road with stunning effect. There is plenty of feel and immediate response from the brakes too, which have been upgraded with a new electromechanical booster together with 415mm front and 378mm rear steel discs (or optional 440mm carbon-ceramic front discs).

The driver can alter the drivetrain’s energy regeneration calibration in three stages via paddles on the steering wheel, with maximum regeneration reaching up to 260kW. A digital sound symposer, called the AMG Sound Experience, can also be engaged to play a variety of different synthetic soundtracks, some of which give the impression you're aboard a spaceship rather than a five-seat SUV.

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Dial the performance back in Comfort mode and there are also very agreeable qualities to the drivetrain at urban speeds. Smooth and refined, it makes for surprisingly relaxing driving when you want it to. The overall range is a claimed 292 miles in combination with 21in wheels (and 22in wheels are optional).

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During cornering, the car’s kerb weight is always a factor but its overall agility is very impressive indeed. There is heightened alertness to the steering, which, while fairly lifeless, offers substantial weight and striking directness. With a rear-wheel steer function providing up to 9deg of rear steering angle, the EQE 53 SUV turns in to corners eagerly and with progressive load change thanks to a relatively low centre of gravity.

Larger body movements are kept well in control by AMG’s active anti-roll system. There is also plenty of grip from the specially developed 275/40-profile Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres, which allow you to carry substantial speed through corners without a loss of purchase triggering the electronic stability control system. There are limits to the handling, of course, but they are remarkably high.

A specially tuned version of Mercedes-AMG's active air suspension provides excellent shock absorption and isolation from road noise. There is a firmness to the car’s adaptively damped ride, as you'd expect in a car wearing the AMG badge. However, it’s generally well controlled and never harsh.

The EQE 53 SUV is fast and, by electric car standards, very capable over challenging roads. However, it lacks the drama and sense of occasion of Mercedes-AMG's combustion models. There is great efficiency in the way it performs on any given road. But despite this, it doesn't get under your skin the same way that other Mercedes-AMG models do.

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