Kashmir is all that you imagine it to be: serene, splendid and surreal. Driving in the Buta Pathri district around Gulmarg is like being in heaven. The sky is a brilliant blue, with pine trees reaching high into the sky. The ample green fields and quiet surroundings have an instant calming effect on you. I can enjoy the surroundings more because I am driving something green, something silent—the latest EV from Mercedes-Benz, the EQE 500 4 Matic.
This is the electric equivalent of the GLE but looks vastly different. No more upright styling; it has more curves and smooth surfaces to ensure that it cuts smoothly through the air without affecting the range. This means it doesn’t have a butch SUV appearance nor is it very tall. The front has a smooth, glossy cover spangled with stars, where there would typically be a grille, and it is flanked by two hi-tech LED headlamps connected by an LED bar. The surfaces are clean, and the smart 20” alloys are aerodynamic around the side as well. There is a sidestep that illuminates at night to give you a boost up into the car. Honestly, it is not needed but adds to the SUV styling. Around the rear is a distinctive set of LED lamps with a helix design. While overall this may not have the typical SUV rugged appeal, the EQE is a smart-looking EV.
Mercedes has decided to bring in the top-of-the-line variant with a load of bells and whistles. This EQE is the all-wheel drive variant, with air suspension, ADAS features, massage and ventilated seats, 4 Zone climate control, ambient lighting, the 3D Burmester sound system with 15 speakers, and a stunning 56” hyper screen that stretches across the dashboard. It creates the wow factor on the interior, housing a passenger screen, an infotainment display and an instrument cluster for the driver. The infotainment system is intuitive and uses AI technology to make a lot of your regularly used functions appear on the main screen. While I prefer manual controls for essential functions like the AC and volume controls, everything inside this cabin is operated electronically.
Most Mercedes owners will be chauffeured, and for that back-seat comfort is of paramount importance. With the biggest wheelbase among its competitors, the EQE offers ample space in the rear and ample room for tall people to stretch their legs. The massive panoramic sunroof stretching above the rear passenger’s head makes it feel even more spacious, and a third passenger can fit in with the floorboard being flat. However, that floorboard is higher up with the battery sitting underneath, and with a short seat base, it means these rear seats are not as comfortable as the GLE. Also there are no sun blinds for rear passengers.
To check the details, I had taken the EQE off-road on to a grassy, uneven knoll with many rocks strewn around. The EQE features a transparent bonnet feature, allowing a camera view of what is under the bonnet and around the front wheels, making it easy to go off-road without worry. There is ample ground clearance, and with the added 25 mm of height adjust, you can safely go off the beaten path without fear. With the all-wheel drive, the EQE can do a fair bit of off-road driving easily.
The EQE comes with twin electric motors at each axle, producing 408hp and a stonking 858Nm of torque. It makes driving this SUV a lot of fun. Gentle dabs on the accelerator bring up strong acceleration. The winding, empty roads around Buta Pathri are a good playground, and the EQE surprises me with how it carves out the corners. The steering feels meaty, and the SUV always feels sure-footed.
Stamp on the pedal, and you get a massive shove back into your seat as the car propels you to 100 in just 4.9 seconds. The EQE is swift and fun to drive. The calm and serene cabin minus any engine sounds means you don’t realise how quickly you surpass speed limits. Since this is an import, there is no speed limit warning. While acceleration is strong, it builds up in a refined manner that will never unsettle rear-seat passengers, and the entire feeling in the cabin is of supreme luxury.
There are drive modes to toggle through: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. While Sport was perfect for the winding section of the road, I dialled back to Comfort for the drive back. This softens the ride too, which at low speeds is plush enough, and city commutes will be comfortable. It is when you pick up the pace, the EQE can thud through the bigger potholes and with the soft suspension, at higher speeds, it also moves around a fair bit on undulating roads. Drive it in a relaxed manner and it feels more settled.
The EQE SUV is an import, which means it comes with a higher price tag. At ₹1.39 crore, it is pricey, but you get a feature-rich, tech-laden SUV with solid performance, that’s driving you into the new era of EVs in the lap of luxury.
Renuka Kirpalani is consulting editor, Autocar India.
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