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Future Forward: Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 Review

Gulmarg, renowned for its beauty and rugged terrain, becomes the stage for Mercedes-Benz's latest electric vehicle, the EQE SUV, blending innovation and luxury for India's evolving EV market

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Introduction

Winter in Gulmarg heralds a season of dramatic transformation, where the first snowfall dresses the landscape in pristine white, setting a serene stage unlike any in the bustling urban settings of Mumbai or Pune. It’s here, amidst the silent meadows and the towering pines, that the Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV is introduced, offering a stark contrast to the tranquil surroundings with its promise of advanced electric mobility.

Gulmarg, known for its scenic beauty and challenging terrains, serves as an ideal backdrop for the EQE SUV, Mercedes-Benz’s latest foray into the electric vehicle market. This vehicle, built on the brand’s dedicated electric architecture, which it shares with the flagship EQS, presents itself as a blend of innovation and luxury, tailored for a country that’s rapidly warming up to the idea of electric vehicles.

In India, the appeal of an SUV cannot be overstated. The EQE SUV, with its emphasis on versatility and performance, is poised to address the unique challenges of Indian roads—be it navigating through the notorious speed-breakers, tackling potholes, or adapting to unexpected roadworks. This makes the EQE SUV not just a testament to Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to electric mobility but also an acknowledgment of the Indian consumer’s preference for vehicles that offer both luxury and practicality.

As the chill of Gulmarg welcomes us, the EQE SUV stands ready for evaluation. Its design, while inheriting elements from the aerodynamically sleek EQS, promises an experience suited for the diverse Indian landscape. This introduction aims to explore how the EQE SUV positions itself in the Indian market, highlighting its design, features, and suitability for the Indian roads, amidst the captivating beauty of Gulmarg.

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Exterior

The Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 has an aerodynamic shape with smooth, curved lines that help it cut through the air efficiently. This aids with maximizing driving range. Upfront is a large closed-off grille with the Mercedes three-pointed star logo prominently in the center, surrounded by over 270 smaller star logos. The sleek LED headlamps are connected by a continuous light bar.

From the side, the flush door handles and 20-inch alloy wheels complement the wedge-like silhouette. Subtle “EQE” badging by the windows identifies this as an electric vehicle. At the rear, the tail lamps stretch across the entire tailgate in one unified LED strip. The rear bumper has fake vents at the edges for aesthetic effect. These details add character but the overall shape leans more towards a curved crossover style rather than a traditional boxy SUV.

While the exterior design is futuristic and smooth, it lacks some of the commanding road presence and imposing stance expected from a luxury Mercedes SUV at this price point. The focus has clearly been on achieving exceptional aerodynamic efficiency through the flowing shapes rather than highlighting its performance capabilities. This refined styling will appeal more to buyers who prioritize the luxurious, high-tech and eco-friendly attributes of the EQE over sheer visual road presence.

Interiors

Step inside the EQE cabin and you are met with trademark Mercedes richness. High-grade leather, wood panels and aluminum finishes create a plush atmosphere. I particularly liked the open-pore wood trim slathered with Mercedes logos on the central tunnel. The layout is classic Mercedes – wraparound dashboard housing intricate air vents, quilted seat textures and ambient lighting mingling beautifully. Most surfaces feel built to last though some plastic elements fall slightly short.

Space and practicality are reasonable but not exceptional for an SUV in this price bracket. Four adults can travel comfortably and there’s good headroom thanks to the large panoramic sunroof. However, in my opinion the rear seat lacks underthigh support and should have more features for passengers. Boot space is decent at 520 liters but a chunk gets taken up by the full-size spare wheel. As a luxury family vehicle, the EQE fulfills needs but doesn’t go over and above.

Of course the highlight is the stunning 56-inch Hyperscreen spanning the full dashboard width. It combines three seamless displays for instrumentation, infotainment and passenger entertainment. I’m blown away by the crisp brilliant graphics and intuitive customizable interfaces. For me this showpiece screen alone provides that wow factor boosting the EQE’s luxury quotient over traditional Mercedes models. It points firmly towards the all-electric future while retaining trademark extravagance expected from the three-pointed star.

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Performance

You would be forgiven for mistaking the EQE500 as a car more focused on efficiency than performance if you judged it only by the sleek, curved exterior shape. But make no mistake – under that aerodynamic shell lies some seriously potent electric motivation.

Power comes from a 90.5kWh lithium-ion battery, nearly double what you find in more mainstream EVs. The juice flows to a pair of efficient electric motors, one powering each axle to enable 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Total output is a meaty 408hp and a truck-like 858Nm of torque from zero rpm. That’s enough grunt for the 2,480kg EQE to sprint from 0-100kmph in just 4.9 seconds – hot hatch territory! Top speed is electronically limited to 210kmph but the EQE feels comfortably stable at extra-legal highway cruising speeds.

Delivering the power is a single-speed direct drive transmission. Without any gears, acceleration is extraordinarily linear. Put your foot down and the EQE simply surges forwards on an endless wave of torque. The cabin remains library quiet too – no engine roar or gear changes to distract from the zen-like tranquility of this luxury shuttle.

Variable Driving Modes + Futuristic Sounds

You can tailor the performance through multiple drive modes. Eco mode dulls throttle sensitivity for maximum efficiency. Comfort mode offers a good blend of responsiveness while preserving energy. Sport mode speeds up drivetrain responses and firms up the adjustable air suspension for tauter handling at the expense of range.

Within Sport mode I also played around with the synthetic sound generator – choosing between “Silver Waves”, “Roaring Pulse” and “Vivid Flux”. The first emulates a silky inline-6, the second is more muscle car inspired, while the last has Tron-like techno tones. They are gimmicky for sure but do succeed in adding a layer of excitement that’s otherwise missing. At least you can better judge speeds through audible cues. Purists would prefer to leave the futuristic sounds off and enjoy the inherent serenity.

All About The Range

Speaking of efficiency, Mercedes claims a maximum range approaching 550km. However my spirited test loop saw the estimate quickly drop by over 25% after just 100km. Real world economy is likely 20% shy of those lab figures, but even at a projected 400km the EQE meets daily driving needs with juice to spare. Harvest energy through smart regenerative braking to further maximize distance traveled between charging stops.

With a 170kW DC fast charging port as standard, the batteries can be replenished from near-flat to 80% in around 30 minutes. That’s among the fastest charging capabilities in the luxury EV sphere. Overnight top-ups using more common 22kW AC home wall box chargers take about twice as long from 10-100%. Mercedes is bullish on infrastructure having already installed 180kW connectors at dealerships in major metros.

Focused Yet Flexible Handling

Ride quality is distinctly Mercedes – cosseting yet not wallowy. Much of the credit goes to Mercedes’ adaptive air suspension that auto-adjusts damping based on occupancy and load. Small cracks and bumps are brushed over, larger ones only partially muted. Uneven surfaces do lead to slight side-to-side rocking owing to the mass of batteries concentrated low down. However its no deal breaker – if you prioritize comfort over sportiness, the standard settings ably iron out imperfections.

Switch to Sport mode and the air springs lower for a tauter, more planted feel through corners. The lowered center of gravity from that battery pack keeps body movements relatively flat. Direct, well-weighted steering allows placing this near 5-metre behemoth with precision. Understeer is there if you push unreasonably hard but overall the EQE feels responsive and stable. Not as engaging as internal combustion-engined Mercedes AMG models of course but no slouch either.

Balance the blistering acceleration and handling competence with the practicality of 400+ kms between charging stops and all-wheel drive traction and the EQE500 strikes a great balance for the well-heeled patron. It’s a high-tech showcase of Mercedes innovation, draped in a cleaner yet no less luxurious package.

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Verdict

There is no escaping the hard truth that the Mercedes-Benz EQE500 commands a steep price – Rs 1.39 crores to be precise, and that’s before options.

In terms of sheer interior room, more affordable three-row options like the Mercedes GLS and even the GLE provide greater spacing and seating flexibility. However, the EQE justifies its premium by packing a electronics showcase worth of next-gen technology in a carbon neutral package.

The feathers in its cap include the visually stunning Hyperscreen, remarkably quick charging, augmented audible character, and an underlying athletics belying the graceful exterior. Plus it gives the owner bragging rights to being an early adopter of cutting-edge EV tech while making a statement towards sustainable luxury.

When viewed as a technology leader and a rolling testimony to Mercedes-Benz’s innovation capabilities, the EQE seems more appropriately positioned. Factor in the marque’s unmatched reputation for luxury, safety and reliability attributes, and the steep ask seems a small price to pay for early access to the future.

Sure there are more affordable electric SUV options, but none encapsulate the blend of avantgarde technologies and uncompromising premium furnishings like the trailblazing EQE500. Think of it more as investing in a advanced prototype showcasing the shape of things to come, rather than old-fashioned transportation. Much like those who spent small fortunes on one of the first flatscreen TVs, early EQE adopters will derive satisfaction and status that more than offsets the financial premium.

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