IN A NUTSHELL: Mercedes-Benz has become the latest premium brand to enjoy the electric vehicle market. The EQC borrows elements from the existing internal combustion-powered GLC but features a unique powertrain that takes the German giant into new territory.

What is the Mercedes-Benz EQC?

The electric revolution is upon us. Once the domain of start-ups like Tesla, these days every car company with a vision for the future is introducing battery powered models. And that list now includes the inventor of the car itself, Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes-Benz EQC rear side

The German giant is taking on the likes of the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace (as well as the impending Audi e-tron) with the EQC, a GLC-sized SUV powered by a pair of electric motors.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz EQC cost and what do you get?

With supply limited around the world there is only one specification EQC available at present, the EQC 400 4Matic. Because of the limited supply, Mercedes-Benz Australia has decided to take this opportunity to experiment with online sales.

The basic plan calls for Mercedes to control all stock in the country and keep an online inventory, accessible to the public. There are nine selected dealers (spread primarily around the capital cities) where prospective customers will be able to test drive and examine the EQC up close before they decide to buy.

Actually buying the car can only be done via the Mercedes website, where customers will be able to choose the vehicle the best fits their preference or order a specific model (and face a minimum seven month wait). The car is then delivered to the nearest dealer, with the dealership collecting a fee for its services from Mercedes-Benz Australia.

That means the price is set at $137,900 (plus on-road costs) with no room to negotiate or be out-bid at the dealership.

For that money, the EQC 400 4Matic comes well-equipped with 20-inch alloys, AMG Line exterior package, multibeam LED headlights, AMG Line interior, leather upholstery, wireless smartphone charging, a head up display, keyless entry and ignition and a sunroof.

Also included in the price is a five-year subscription to Chargefox and its public network of chargers, which include both 50kW fast chargers and 110kW ultra-rapid chargers.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz EQC interior like?

In a word – electronic. Mercedes took inspiration from computer circuit boards, heat sinks and even copper wiring when designing the cabin. The air-conditioning vents are designed to look like a circuit, while the silver lines that run across the door panels and the top of the dashboard come from heat sinks.

The copper colour that highlights elements of the trim will reportedly be a common styling treatment for all EQ models as a way to differentiate them from the rest of the Mercedes range.

But there’s more, with Mercedes keen to emphasis sustainability it has tried to use as many recycled materials as possible, including a wetsuit-like material that covers the top part of the dashboard.

While there are certain similarities between the EQC and the GLC (the two share compontery and are built on the same production line) the dashboard is unique to the EQC and it gives it an obvious point of difference.

How much space is there in the Mercedes-Benz EQC?

Sharing the same wheelbase with the GLC means there’s very similar cabin space in the EQC. In fact, despite the batteries being mounted flat and underneath the floor there’s still the same transmission tunnel you’ll find in the GLC; that impacts on space upfront and in the back.

The front chairs are comfortable but it lacks the more open feel you find in, say, the Model X which has no transmission tunnel.

Rear space is very similar to the GLC, although there is slightly less headroom as the roofline is lower for improved aerodynamics. In fact, the rear seats are so similar to the GLC that if you don’t look at the dashboard there’s nothing obvious to let you know you’re in a different SUV.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz EQC infotainment like?

Like all new Mercedes vehicles, the EQC gets the brand’s MBUX infotainment system, that features on a huge, plank-like screen that also acts as a digital instrument panel.

MBUX allows you to not only control all the usual functions – navigation, Bluetooth, audio, etc – but you can do even more using more voice control. But it’s not traditional voice commands, instead it’s more like your smartphone assistant, so you can use more casual language such as “Hey Mercedes, navigate to home” and it will act accordingly.

Paired with a nice 13-speaker Burmester sound system the EQC is suitable well equipped for a luxury SUV.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz EQC electric motor like?

Pop the bonnet and instead of an engine you’ll find one of the two electric motors; the other one is in the rear, mounted under the boot floor. Together the motors combine to produce 300kW of power and 760Nm of torque.

That’s a seriously impressive amount of pulling power. In fact, it’s more than an AMG GLC63S and it’s enough to pull the 2400kg EQC from zero to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds. While not as quick as the Tesla, that’s still fast for a five-seat SUV and should be more than quick enough for most EV buyers looking for a luxury, family-friendly model.

Each motor sends power to an axle so it has all-wheel drive traction, and hence the 4Matic name, so it never feels unruly. On the contrary, it has the easy-going, almost silent nature we’ve come to expect from EVs – plus there’s always that instant burst of torque available to you when you put your foot down.

The battery is an 80kWh lithium-ion type which Mercedes claims provides a range of 354km on the WLTP cycle. While our test drive included a lot of open road driving which reduced the projected range, around town where you’d harvest more energy from the regenerative braking 300km+ seems realistic.

What’s the Mercedes-Benz EQC like to drive?

One thing the EQC can’t hide is its weight, tipping the scales at 2420kg it’s more than 600kg heavier than a petrol-powered GLC. While most of the extra mass is the battery pack and it’s mounted as low as possible it still has an impact on the way the EQC rides and handles.

Turn into a corner with gusto and you’ll feel that weight as the car tends to react more slowly than a GLC would. While clearly the EQC isn’t designed for corner-carving it’s impossible to escape the compromises heavy batteries force on EVs.

That’s manifested mostly in an inconsistent ride on poor roads. That’s largely due to Mercedes’ decision to fit steel springs at the front and air suspension at the rear, so the two ends feel like they react differently to bumps rather than working together. The result is a busy and fussy ride on uneven surfaces.

The low speed urban ride is better, and given that it’s the city the EQC is really built for, it’s hard to mark it down too much.

One nice feature that the EQC has that neither Tesla nor Jaguar have (although in fairness the Hyundai Kona Electric beat Mercedes to the idea and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has had for years) are steering wheel-mounted paddles to adjust the regen braking on the move. There are four levels of regen D+, D, D-, D– which alters the level of deceleration when you lift your foot off the accelerator. In the D+ it rolls along much like a regular combustion car, but in D– there’s very obvious slowing as soon as you lift off, enough to almost stop the car completely.

While the Tesla and Jaguar have similar functionality, it’s only accessible via the infotainment screen, which is too distracting and time-consuming when you’re on the move. By having the adjustment on the back of the wheel, at your fingertips, you can adjust quickly and easily on the fly as the traffic conditions change.

Overall it’s a pleasant SUV to drive thanks to a combination of a very quiet cabin and turbocharged V8 llevels of torque at your right foot.

How safe is the Mercedes-Benz EQC?

It’s as safe as Mercedes can make it; it literally has more safety equipment in it than the S-Class. It comes standard with the brand’s Driver Assistance Package which includes autonomous emergency braking, active lane keeping assist, active brake assist, active cruise control, active blind spot detection, active parking assist, attention assist and multi-beam LED headlights.

Also standard is what Benz calls an Acoustic Ambient Protection system that emits a subtle sound externally at speeds below 30km/h to warn pedestrians.

It, unsurprisingly, scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating; recording the highest ever result for child occupant protection.

What are the Mercedes-Benz EQC alternatives?

There are two obvious rivals – the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. Both are electric SUVs that perform similar functions to the EQC and are available with multiple variants.

The Model X range begins at $116,500 for the standard range option and stretches to $149,600 for the Ludicrous Performance variant.

The I-Pace S EV400 is priced from $124,100 while the range-topping HSE EV400 starts at $146,000.

Audi will introduce the similar-sized, all-electric e-tron quattro to the Australian market, but it’s been delayed until the second half of 2020.

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC Pricing and Spec

Price From $137,900 plus ORCs Warranty 3 years/unlimited km Engine twin-electric motors Power 300kW Torque 760Nm Transmission Single-speed automatic Drive all-wheel-drive Body 4774mm (l); 1884mm (w); 1622mm (h) Kerb weight 2420kg Seats 5 Thirst 21.4kWh/100km Range 354km (WLTP) Spare Repair kit



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