Comparison: BMW i5 eDrive40 – Mercedes EQE 350
The new upper class duel
For decades, the Mercedes E-Class competed against its long-term rival, the BMW 5 Series. Until Mercedes gradually abandons its EQ nomenclature, it will now be Mercedes EQE versus BMW i5. A duel in the electric upper class at eye level – with which winner?
There are also entry-level models in the chic business league. Although these have sufficient power, they usually do not have an all-wheel drive option and, despite moderate comfort equipment, still quickly cost well over 75,000 euros. And if there are currently two hot luxury sedans with electric drives, then they are the new BMW i5 eDrive40 and the still young Mercedes EQE 350, which compete against each other in this competition. Visually, both follow the design language of their respective brands, with the i5 showing the typical profile of a three-part sedan with its vertical radiator grille and higher front section, while the competitor relies on the widely discussed arched line, which was adopted from the larger EQS.
Externally, the BMW i5, which costs at least 72,000 euros, is twelve centimeters longer, while the Mercedes (from 69,210 euros) exceeds the Bavarian in width by six centimeters with the same height. The 13 centimeters more wheelbase of the EQE is positively noticeable in the interior, where the i5 offers more headroom, while the Swabian scores with more room for the legs. When it comes to storage space for luggage, the BMW i5 is ahead because it holds 60 liters more (490 versus 430 liters) and has a larger loading opening. In both competitors, the rear seats can be folded down completely or partially behind the electric tailgate, which significantly increases the loading space with an almost flat floor. The BMW offers two horizontal screens with 12.3 and 14.9 inches; The Mercedes presents its information on a 12.3-inch screen in landscape format and a 12.9-inch display in portrait format and, if desired, there is a contemporary passenger display. The operation of both is no longer as intuitive as it was years ago, because the multitude of functions requires different display levels, so that many things are easiest with the respective voice control in addition to head-up display. The material quality of both models is convincing, although the BMW loses out in some aspects. The rubber coating on the front door pockets or pockets on the back of the front seats is missing.
The basic version of both vehicles has an electric motor on the rear axle and is only optionally available as an all-wheel drive in more powerful versions. The BMW i5 eDrive40 delivers 250 kW / 340 HP / 430 Nm, while the Mercedes EQE 350 has to make do with 215 kW / 292 HP, but offers an impressive 565 Nm maximum torque and thus additional thrust. Correspondingly, both sprinted from a standstill to 100 km/h in 6.0 and 6.4 seconds. However, the BMW i5 makes an embarrassing mistake at top speed as it is already closed at 193 km/h, while the EQE 350 at least 210 km /h can run fast. Considering that the performances of the two models are almost equal, it is ultimately the weight difference between the two competitors (the BMW i5 weighs 150 kilos less) that allows the Bavarian car to prevail in every sprint.
Both models show the biggest differences in driving behavior. When braking, the BMW clearly has the edge, as the left pedal responds immediately and more linearly, while the first quarter of the pedal travel in the EQE hardly causes any delays. On the other hand, the BMW chassis gives the driver a feeling of being more connected to the road, thanks to a more direct front axle and better control of body movements. The BMW steering is more communicative, although the Mercedes steering is more direct. The BMW i5 also has air suspension on the rear axle as standard, which the EQE only offers as an option. The BMW rear axle turns the wheels up to 2.5 degrees at low speeds to promote maneuverability or stability at high speeds, which is a better compromise than the 4.5 to 10 degrees offered by the EQE rear axle adapts to the driver’s turning wishes. Although the star variant provides more maneuverability, the linearity of the driving behavior is impaired.
Given that the 5.06 meter long BMW is the more dynamic of the two German electric sedans, it’s surprising that the Bavarian engineers decided against paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to control energy recovery. This is available in the 4.95 meter long Mercedes. In both models there are three controllable deceleration levels plus an adaptive mode and the i5 switches to so-called one-pedal driving mode in B mode, which makes the brake pedal almost unusable.
The Mercedes EQE 350 uses the larger battery (90 usable kWh versus 81.2 kWh in the i5) and has a longer factory warranty (ten years/250,000 km versus eight years/160,000 km), which is one of the main factors in the Swabian car’s greater range is: according to factory specifications 567 to 654 km compared to 499 to 585 km for the Bavarian competitor. In practice, a significantly lower range can be expected in both vehicles, even if the range for longer journeys in the city center is close to the official figures. With a mixed driving style (city, country road and highway), average ranges of around 420 kilometers for the EQE 350 and 350 kilometers for the i5 eDrive40 can be expected, which means an average consumption of around 22 kWh/100 km and 25 kWh/100 km respectively . When the batteries are exhausted, they are recharged and here too, the BMW i5 can assert itself in another category as it can be charged with up to 205 kilowatts, while the Mercedes EQE only offers 170 kW. Things look different on the wallbox, because here the Swabian offers 22 kW, while the BMW currently only has eleven kilowatts.
The bottom line is that this first comparison offers a straight draw, because the BMW i5 eDrive40, which is inherently sportier, has to rank behind the Mercedes EQE 350 in terms of performance and consumption despite its better handling. The seating comfort in the Bavarian is also better, but the Swabian compensates for this with more space and better displays (also for the front passenger). Since the prices are also on par when adjusted for equipment, it is a matter of taste which of the two competitors you choose.