On the outside, this looks like any other Mercedes-Benz you’ll see on the road or in the showrooms, but underneath it’s something completely new and from where I sit, it’s clear to me Mercedes have nailed their first fully electric car the EQC.
Mercedes approach to electric power is range-wide, every Mercedes will have electric power within 10 years, but that isn’t all about EVs. Mercedes will have full EV cars (BEV), Plug-in Hybrid Electric Cars (PHEV) and what they call EQ Boost which is a 48V Battery aided traditional combustion engine.
When it comes to actual EVs, there’s big plans, with seven fully electric cars to be announced by the end of 2023.
The demand for the EQC means Mercedes will fulfil their pre-orders first starting in early 2020, with new customers unlikely to see a vehicle in their driveway until late 2020. That’s encouraging for Mercedes as they enter a brave new world.
Price-wise, the EQC sits just under $140,000 starting price before on-roads. Built at the same factory as the GLC and similarly sized (the EQC is slightly narrower, shorter but longer than the GLC) it’s hard to truly compare prices. You can get a GLC from around $70,000, but in reality, the EQC is by default a premium fit and finish and a high-performance vehicle, so given the GLC goes up to the C63 S variant at just under $140,000 that’s a more likely comparison.
Regardless, there’s still a decent premium to be paid for Electric power that’s for sure.
The style of this car is a well-rounded smoothing of the GLC style with a brand new approach to the front and rear with a signature look for the EQ range going forward.
You’ll know it’s an EQC coming up behind you by the front lighting and likewise the rear lighting screams EQC also.
But in reality if you didn’t know about Mercedes going electric, you’d just assume this was any other Mercedes-Benz.
Inside though, it’s something really special. Mercedes have taken their modern interior and added some tech-tweaks. There is a grill that runs from the front edge of the door trim all around the dash – that thin grill-like trim is a nod to the cooling fins on a computer processor or similar parts.
The cooling vents have a copper look trim around a design that draws inspiration from circuit boards. They are subtle things, but they give the car a unique look inside that doesn’t stray too far from the standard Mercedes styling.
All the materials feel high quality and on the open road and even some b-road driving there wasn’t a rattle or hum to be found.
Mercedes dual-screen approach to the instrument cluster and infotainment is starting to look better as it evolves, it now looks less like two screens jammed together and more like a single seamless dashboard.
Apple CarPlay is enormous on the infotainment system and would be my preference for users, over Mercedes advanced MBUX infotainment software. MBUX is amazing, advanced, and well crafted, but it’s also too complex, full of too many features which makes it a nightmare to navigate for a newbie. I’m sure it’s fantastic once you really get to know it, but I for one opt for the simplicity of a smartphone’s in-built entertainment options.
There’s too much power. You see the funny thing is that because Tesla spend so much effort hyping about their off the line acceleration numbers you expect that punch when you drive one – you show off with that punch whenever possible.
However, I didn’t feel like I was driving an electric car, so when I felt the need to squirt the pedal out of a roundabout I was a touch overwhelmed by the power.
You’re looking at something like 5.1 seconds 0-100km/h, several seconds faster than a GLC for example. Power is delivered smooth and fast based entirely on your right foot, once you adapt to that you use it wisely and it’s a real nice-to-have.
When you leave your car space it’s a gentle and quiet experience, and it’s really only that moment, as well as those times when you punch the right foot to overtake or leave a corner that you remember you’re driving an electric car.
I say that because the ride and handling are exceptional. They’re exactly what you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz – a smooth ride, direct steering, and when you find your favourite drive mode it’s up to you if you want to smooth out those bumps with comfort mode, or tighten things up and get a better feel for the corners by choosing sport mode.
Out on the open road, the road-noise is minimal, probably EV class-leading in terms of quiet.
There’s no question I could benefit from a full week behind the wheel of this car, a few hours on the road isn’t enough to truly evaluate all the ins and outs – however, it’s far more than you would get if you had the cash and were taking one for a test drive.
I can’t imagine someone complaining about the ride or handling of the EQC – and I certainly don’t think you’ll find a car of any kind that is as quiet inside when out on the open road.
Using the Mercedes MBUX system you can see on a map quite clearly the range available. A green line outlines the places you could go to on your existing charge.
Range should be 360km, or more based on your driving – but I can’t speak to that myself as I didn’t push it past that limit at all.
We stopped off at the RACV Resort near Geelong where ChargeFox have several charging stations.
While they say they are 50Kw and 350Kw chargers, from what I can see those numbers are split in two – for each of the outlet cables.
So plugging two EQC’s into the 350Kw charger delivers a maximum of 175 on each – not relevant in the case of the EQC as it can only handle 110Kw anyway, but important to note as we get more advanced, and vehicles like the Porshe Taycan which can take 270Kw.
I used the Chargefox app and plugged my EQC into the slower 50Kw charger. This delivered an 11Kw charge to the car, which estimated a charging time of just over 4 hours from the 26% battery it had.
After around 40 minutes charging, 11% was added to the battery, and it cost me just over $4.
I really need to take one of these onto the highway and get a real sense of the cost of charging, because that intrigues me, but won’t bother an EQC owner who will receive five years of free charging on the Chargefox network.
That free charging isn’t great until the Chargefox network is expanded, and while it’s only really in key capital cities now – their progress on the highways is fast, so we’ll blink and their network will rival what Tesla has done with Superchargers, only the Chargefox network works for everyone with an Electric car.
Interestingly, not a moment of range anxiety. I think partially that’s because the battery level was as discretely placed as the fuel level normally is. If you highlight that battery – you’re going to think about it more, so hey – there’s something to be learned there.
Why Mercedes engineered the chassis here to have all the components and motor sitting upright above the front-drive mechanism I don’t know, but it means no Frunk.
That front boot is very cool, and very handy on a Tesla – I think not having it is a missed opportunity, however, I speculated back in Sweden at the World Premiere that this might be to do with designing the car for crash testing and road safety – and I think I was right.
The EQC 400 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating. This included a 96 per cent score for adult occupant protection and 92 per cent for child occupant protection. That Adult occupant score is the highest ever rating for an electric car, and the child rating is the equal highest score of any car. Impressive stuff.
So, what’s missing? Not much at all.
Should you buy one?
Hell yes. This is the most impressive electric car I’ve ever driven. It drives just like it’s siblings in the Mercedes Benz range no matter what their choice of power. It’s exceptionally quiet on the road, and that makes for a comfortable and enjoyable drive.
The range is more than adequate for 99% of drivers. No, those who drive bush regularly won’t find this to their liking, but I doubt you’re taking an EQC bush regularly if at all.
Average commute distances in Australia are under 40km a day, making this capable of being charged easily at home while parked in the garage. When you need it there’s fast charging available and much more coming.
There’s definitely an Electric Premium on this price tag, but I can’t be 100% sure just how high that is, I’ll leave it to the more experienced motoring writers to compare.
However, when you consider the price is competitive if not better than the SUV electric competition of the Jaguar iPace and Tesla Model X – there’s simply no question in my mind that I’d take the Mercedes-Benz EQC over both of them any day of the week.
It’s a stunner. And for a first attempt should make the next range of EQ models very interesting.