New Mercedes EQC 2019 review
The new all-electric Mercedes EQC SUV has arrived in the UK, but is it a match for the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X?
Sensible is how you’d describe the new Mercedes EQC, given only a word to do so; it’s a Mercedes first and an electric vehicle second. So while it’s an EV current Mercedes owners will fall into with ease, it might not wow those captivated by the thought of electric car ownership. It’s still got heaps of performance, quality and comfort, though, and a very commendable real world range. It should be on your radar.
Mercedes has set aside 10 billion Euros (£9.2bn) for a plug-in vehicle push that will lead into the mid 2020s, and it’s promised that this cash will result in 10 all-electric Mercedes and Smart models hitting the road before the end of 2022.
Key to this will be a brand-new, purpose made all-electric platform being built in a brand-new factory. But before that happens, the firm’s first pure battery-powered effort to take its place in the newly minted ‘EQ’ sub-brand of electrified Mercedes is this: the EQC. It’s in UK dealerships now.
The new design language sets the tone for EQ cars to come, but squint a little and it resembles the GLC – and for good reason. The EQC uses a highly modified version of that car’s conventional platform rather than something new and unique. So while the Tesla Model X and the Jaguar I-Pace have been developed totally from scratch, the EQC mirrors the Audi e-tron, by attempting to be a thoroughly convincing, upmarket, long range electric SUV underpinned by a known quantity.
The platform has been adapted to house an 80kWh battery, while one electric motor drives the front axle, and another the rear. Total system power stands at 403bhp, with torque measuring a colossal 760Nm, accessed the moment you hit the pedal.
However, that’s a defining characteristic of anything large, powerful, expensive and electric. What’s immediately apparent about the EQC the moment you climb aboard is a feeling of familiarity. You’re greeted by the usual dual-display infotainment and digital dial setup lifted from cars using Merc’s latest MBUX infotainment system, while the centre console and switchgear you’ll find on it is identical to the latest GLC. As ever, the infotainment presents a bit of a missed opportunity. The MBUX system is pinpoint sharp, feature packed and loads rapidly, but it’s a complex system to navigate – you may find yourself relying on the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control functions more often than you’d imagine.
The cabin feels a bit more traditional than some of the competition, and is only differentiated from other Mercs by some new vents, copper accents, and a large, sweeping panel of lines running from the doors and around the back of the dashboard.
Quality is typically Mercedes, but it isn’t the most spacious car in this segment – and some of the synthetic materials on show won’t impress brand connoisseurs. The centre console is quite fat and eats into the front footwells, while sitting in the back reveals headroom is at a premium, nipped away by the EQC’s aerodynamically friendly low roofline.
From the driver’s seat, visibility could be better, too. The rear window is slim and raked, and the side windows aren’t the biggest either. Boot space sizes up at 500 litres - not the largest in the segment, but enough for most family needs.
Driving the EQC is much like any other electric car this powerful and ultimately, this heavy. It tips the scales at 2,495kg, but hit the throttle hard from standstill in Sport mode and you’ll still find that trademark all-electric hit of hard, instant acceleration that you’ll come back to time and time again.
It’s simply impossible to ignore the sheer mass under the bodywork though. It’s a much heavier car than a Jaguar I-Pace, and while the steering is direct enough, the weight of the EQC quickly becomes unmissable and unnerving if you begin to push in corners. It’s not the fastest to come to a stop either. Jaguar’s EV is almost 400kg lighter, and is a much better car in this regard.
But, the EQC possesses a different breadth of ability and excels as a cruiser. All electric cars are quiet, but the Mercedes is quieter still, the smooth shape slinking through the air with little fuss, the road noise and motor whine well isolated. It rides very well too, soaking up the biggest bumps and potholes with ease. The only thing you’ll notice is a little body movement and wobble on undulating surfaces, which can be put down to the sheer sprung mass.
Another trump card – and it’s an important one – is real world range. Depending on specification, Mercedes quotes a range of between 232 and 259 miles on a single charge, recorded under the latest WLTP test regime. On a full battery, our range topping test car said it could handle 240 miles, and we reckon that’s a figure you’ll get close to in normal driving. We achieved strong efficiency of 2.8 mi/kWh on a mixed run, constantly cycling through the various drive modes. It’s a figure we think will be very competitive when we bring the EQC together alongside its chief rivals.
One quirk of the EQC is the Maximum Range mode, which makes use of the navigation system and on-board cameras to read the road ahead and provide assistance to any driver trying to wring the most out of the 80kWh battery pack. It’s a mode many owners will grow tired of quickly though, as the endless interventions don’t seem like a worthwhile trade off for a slight increase in range. The Eco and Comfort modes are this car’s bread and butter, and for the most part, the EQC will run on the front axle’s electric motor only.
As for charging, The EQC isn’t quite as technologically advanced as the Audi e-tron, which can support 150kW charging if you can find a station capable of that output. Nor will it match a Tesla Model X plugged into a Supercharger. At a 110kW charger, Mercedes claims a respectable 10 to 80 per cent recharge time of 40 minutes.
In the UK, a year’s subscription to the currently slim IONTY network of 350kW chargers is included with all versions, as is a CCS-2 connector and a type 2 charging cable for 7kW wallbox and public charging stations, on which a full recharge will take around 11 hours. Charging network BP Chargemaster is one of Mercedes UK’s partners, and offers installation of a 7kW home wallbox for £854 from launch.