A new beginning
The EQ label is not meant as an experiment or to showcase technical marvels. Mercedes-Benz actually wants to switch to electric cars, which is why the first EQ model is a mid-size SUV; the most popular type of car today. Under the skin, the EQC is based on the Mercedes-Benz GLC, which in turn was designed with electric drive in mind.
When it comes to design, the EQC is different from Mercedes-Benz's other models. Its lines are so flowing that this large SUV looks something like a coupé. The style not only gives the EQC a modern look, it also improves its streamline (for lower fuel consumption and driving noise). Mercedes-Benz has not opted for recessed door handles or virtual door mirrors, in that respect the EQC is less progressive.
Space and equipment
Because the EQC was designed as an electric car, the batteries could be built into the floor and interior space is similar to that of a conventional SUV. Space in the front is fine, with a high seat and thus a powerful feel. Rear space is just adequate, thanks in part to the clever shape of the rear of the front seats. Luggage space is average for a car of this size. Unlike other electric cars, the EQC has no storage space ("frunk") under the bonnet.
The atmosphere in the interior is typical Mercedes-Benz: warm, high-quality materials, interspersed with modern technology. Therefore, the EQC certainly does not give the feeling of a vehicle from the future or a computer on wheels. Despite the fact that displays stretch from behind the steering wheel to halfway up the dashboard, the EQC feels as familiar as any other modern Mercedes-Benz.
This is partly due to its intuitive controls. The driver chooses how and where what information is displayed, not the car manufacturer. And the driver chooses to operate the systems with touchpads on the steering wheel, with a touchpad on the centre console or by touching the screens. In addition, the system accepts voice commands, which can be worded entirely freely (example: "where is the nearest charging station?"). Like other Mercedes-Benz models, the EQC can be optionally equipped with an outstanding-sounding audio system from specialist Burmester.
Designing an SUV is tricky enough. Because of its tall build, such a car has a high centre of gravity and therefore poor roadholding. An electric car adds another problem: batteries are heavy and many electric cars therefore also feel heavy. By incorporating the batteries in the floor, the problem of the high centre of gravity is easily solved. However, disguising the weight of an electric car is a lot trickier.
It is precisely at this point that it is noticeable that while this is the first EQ model, it is certainly not the first electric-powered Mercedes-Benz. From the very first moment, the EQC feels nimble, capable and stable. To achieve this, Mercedes-Benz does not fall back on a rock-hard suspension, as the EQC is also an extremely comfortable car. When driven calmly, the EQC is grand, comfortable and as soothing as, say, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. When driven sportily, this 2.4-tonne SUV is surprisingly sharp. Only under heavy braking does the EQC betray its weight. When it comes to the off-road capability of this SUV, Mercedes-Benz has made it easy on itself: the manufacturer does not utter a word about this, nor has it been tested.
Thanks to its harmonious proportions, the EQC hardly shows its true size, but in town and in tight parking spaces, this is a seriously big car. Cameras all around make manoeuvring a lot easier. The A-pillar sits prominently in view and there's little modern electronics can do about that.
An electric motor is inherently superior to an internal combustion engine because the latter only performs optimally at a certain speed, while an electric motor is always strong and smooth. An electric car therefore does not need a gearbox and with software, a car manufacturer determines the character of the electric powertrain. In doing so, the challenge is to find a good balance between performance and range.
Mercedes-Benz does the latter by offering the driver every possible tool to drive economically and even recover energy. When it comes to performance, there is only one limitation: top speed is capped at 180 km/h, but sprint power is at its maximum. With a venom reserved only for electric cars, the EQC therefore gets off to a merciless start (on wet roads, the "4Matic" all-wheel drive has to pull out all the stops to avoid wheel spin). On the contrary, when driven calmly, the EQC spoils with a calmness and refinement that no internal combustion engine can offer. The EQC performs with such ease that 30 km/h takes as much effort as 130 km/h. Climbing a steep hill simply takes no effort at all. Once again, the EQC thus demonstrates a superiority greater than that of Mercedes-Benz's conventionally powered models.
Every electric car recovers energy during braking or throttle release. Using levers behind the steering wheel, the driver of the EQC chooses how much energy is recovered. On the motorway, it is nice to "sail" for a long time, but hardly recover any energy. In the city, one can choose strong restraint and maximum energy recovery. In the latter mode, the EQC decellerates so strongly on throttle release that the brake pedal no longer needs to be used and the EQC can be driven with one pedal. Those who prefer not to bother with energy recovery can leave this to the computer. Using radar, the EQC can measure the distance to other traffic and from data from the navigation system, the computer determines the traffic situation (is there an intersection or a sharp turn coming up?). That data is then used to automatically brake and recover maximum energy.
Range and charging
According to Mercedes-Benz, the EQC can travel 417 km (WLTP standard) on a full battery (80 kWH lithium-ion). The test drive covered 365 km on a full battery. This was on a demanding course, in adverse weather conditions and using energy guzzlers like the climate control system. While driving, the EQC provides clear information about the remaining range. The type of landscape is even taken into account when planning journeys, so a drive through the mountains does not lead to any unpleasant surprises.
The EQC's charging point is in the only right place: on the right rear. That means safe parking (in reverse) to charge. Charging from 10 to 100% using a "wallbox" (7.4 kW with 16A per phase or 32A 1 phase) takes 11 hours. Charging from 10 to 80% on a fast charger takes 40 minutes.
For the test, the latter was attempted. For the arrival of new electric cars, several car manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, are collaborating on a network of superfast chargers called "Ionity". At an Ionity charger, the test car was able to charge at a rate of 102 kW, which is more than enough for the average coffee stop to cover hundreds of kilometres afterwards.
Many car brands are introducing their first electric car. Mercedes-Benz chooses to launch not only new cars, but even a new sub-brand. The "EQC" is the first model of this. While the EQC is the first EQ model, it is certainly not the first electric car from Mercedes-Benz, and that makes a world of difference.
Because Mercedes-Benz already has extensive experience with electric cars, the EQC is free from rookie mistakes that other brands do make. That concerns simple things like the location of the charging socket and the car's deliverability. It also ensures that the EQC goes beyond both its competitors and Mercedes-Benz's traditional models in every respect.
In calm driving, the EQC is even grander and more refined than the most comfortable Mercedes-Benz. At the same time, when driving sportily, the EQC is distinctly sharp and viciously fast. The EQC can be driven traditionally, but it can also be driven single-pedal. Drivers can ignore all technology and drive the EQC like a normal car, or they can choose to employ all aids and get the most out of the car. Then the EQC is a joy to drive, with electric propulsion not challenging but taking the car to the next level in every way. EQ could not have wished for a better start.
- Sharp and viciously fast
- Grand, sophisticated and comfortable
- Modern infotainment and semi-autonomous functions
- A-pillar obstructive in view
- Rear space barely sufficient
- Noticeably heavy when braking