Mercedes-Benz EQC Review
Mercedes is renowned for developing SUVs that are practical but still deliver on the performance front. Now the all-new EQC brings electric power to the mix.
- Blisteringly fast with a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.1 seconds and great range too
- Incredibly refined and packed with technology
- Those stunning alloy wheels
- It’s a pricey choice
- Being criticised as an electrified variation of the GLC rather than a completely new model
- Stiff opposition from the likes of Jaguar, Audi and Tesla
The Mercedes EQC is a pure battery-powered luxury SUV that is built on the same platform as the GLC model with an aim to challenge the likes of the Audi e-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace.
It’s a weighty unit but boasts excellent handling and is packed with all the elegant and innovative technology associated with the German manufacturer.
It offers five-seat practicality, four-wheel drive and a choice of well-equipped trim levels. But the headline news is the EV range of up to 259 miles between charges which dispels any range anxiety fears.
On the Road
Mercedes has joined the race in the premium EV-powered SUV sector with the launch of its EQC model. Based on the same platform as the GLC, this model is available in four main trim levels called Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. There are also two limited run versions called Edition 1 and Edition 1886.
We opted for the EQS in high-end AMG Line Premium Plus and it came with all the bells and whistles imaginable all neatly packaged in a classy, elegant car that is very easy on the eye.
The EQC features an 80kWh lithium-ion battery with a range of 259 miles (WLTP). There is a compact electric drivetrain on each axle with a combined output of 408hp and 765Nm of torque. And those figures mean the EQC can blast its way to 62mph from a standing start in just 5.1 seconds, and onto a top speed of 111mph.
The acceleration is instant and there is a constant stream of power which makes overtaking slower vehicles effortless. There is lots of data to digest, but much of this is relating to charge levels etc. However, with a range of up to 259 miles, range-anxiety shouldn’t be an issue. Getting used to hitting such high speeds in virtual silence does take some getting used to though.
There is a single speed automatic transmission system so don’t get confused by the steering wheel-mounted paddles. They are there to adapt how hard the car works to regenerate the battery charge with five settings available.
The EQC has five driving programmes that introduce different characteristics to the car. These are called Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport and Individual.
While the Comfort mode will be just fine for most day-to-day driving, it’s worth experimenting with the Sport setting which livens up the responses considerably.
This is a car that’s happy pottering around town or on the school run, can clock up the motorway miles with ease, or be unleashed for some real fun on the quieter B roads. Quite the accomplished all-rounder in fact.
The ride is nicely balanced and although it’s not as dynamic as some rival models out there, it can match most SUVs for speed and offers impressive handling across poor road surfaces.
Good steering feel gives you the confidence to attack bends at pace and the 4MOTION electronic four-wheel-drive system delivers excellent grip in both wet and dry driving conditions.
The EQC measures 4.7 metres in length and is almost 1.9 metres wide, but it feels agile and easy to manoeuvre in congested traffic with an impressive 11.8 metres turning circle. The Parking Package with Active Parking Assist and a 360-degree camera also makes squeezing into a very tight parking space a complete doddle.
Refinement is an area where the EQC really excels. This is a car that turns heads thanks to its dynamic styling, boasts an interior that’s world-class and delivers on every aspect when it comes to comfort.
Viewed from any angle, the EQC looks athletic. Although it is very much based on the design of the GLC, there is a brand new grille that seems to smile right back at you. The rear lights are also new, as is the tapered roofline and the car features lots of blue accents as an indication that it is electrically-powered, along with some bespoke EQC badging. But for me, it was the stunning multi-spoke alloys that really set the car apart – they are pure quality.
Move inside and the EQC oozes class with its widescreen cockpit, ambient lighting, sliding sunroof and EQC-specific trim. There are soft-touch surfaces, fine leather upholstery and metal pedals as a gentle reminder that this is a Mercedes after all.
The car starts up in complete silence and the engineers have worked tirelessly to ensure that the cabin remains protected from any noise intrusion at higher speeds, but you can expect to hear a little wind and road surface sound. There is, however, heat and noise-insulating glass that contributes to the refinement within this car.
And it’s worth noting that even on our pitted roads, the suspension on the EQC did a worthy job of smoothing out all but the harshest of road surfaces.
In the car
Finding the perfect driving position in the EQC takes a matter of seconds thanks to the fully powered seats complete with memory settings and a fully power-adjustable steering wheel. The seats can be heated to fend off the winter chill and the driver is treated to excellent all-round visibility along with one of the most elegant infotainment systems in the business.
There is a 10.25 MBUX multi-media touchscreen that flows beautifully into the instrument cluster behind the wheel. MBUX is the company’s innovative multi-media set-up and on this particular car offers all manner of data regarding range, charge status and energy flow. There is also the ‘Hey Mercedes’ virtual assistant that is voice-activated and can help with a number of requests, including adjusting the temperature, finding a particular radio station, accessing the phone book and much, much more. This system is brought to life by simply uttering the magic words: “Hey Mercedes”.
On board technology is comprehensive on the AMG Line Premium Plus car with full smartphone integration, a navigation system, a Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers, wireless phone charging and a head-up display.
The interior of the EQC is truly exquisite with the finest leather upholstery, soft-touch dashboard, copper coloured air vents, plus ambient lighting with 64 colours. And all occupants are treated to a bright, welcoming cabin with light flooding in through the sunroof.
The Mercedes EQC has some stiff and accomplished competition from rivals in the premium SUV sector so needs to tick all the boxes when it comes to practicality. Space within the cabin is good and there is ample room for a trio of passengers to sit in the back without too much of a squeeze.
The boot has a powered tailgate and a capacity that ranges from 500 to 1,060 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down. The rear seats can easily be lowered by pressing a button in the boot, plus there are nets and hooks to prevent items rolling around.
In addition, there is a number of convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the car. These include deep door pockets with space for a drinks bottle, a central cubby, front cup holders and trays. Back seat passengers have their own door pockets, nets in the seatbacks and a fold-down armrest with pop-out cup holders and a covered tray.
The wide-opening doors and elevated seating makes the car ideal for anyone who needs to access child seats.
When it comes to the practicalities of running the EQC, it can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 40 minutes with a standard DC charger.
The Mercedes EQC is a premium SUV so it will come as little surprise that it carries a premium price-tag. Starting from £65,640 for the entry-level EQC Sport the cost rises through the trim levels to £79,260 for the limited-run Edition 1886 version.
Our test car was priced at £74,530, excluding the Government plug-in grant. But as is the way with high-end car makers, the vehicle’s final cost crept up to £77,120 thanks to a number of optional extras.
As the battery-powered EQC emits no CO2 during driving, it qualifies to be exempt from any Vehicle Excise Duty charges but buyers will have to pay £320 per year for the first five years as the car costs more than £40,000.
The insurance group rating for the test car is 50.
Mercedes has an enviable reputation for developing cars that survive the test of time and the EQC should prove just as reliable.
In fact, prior to its launch, 200 prototypes and pre-production models took place in tests covering several million miles across four continents to check their ability in demanding conditions. So the final road cars shouldn’t cause any concerns to owners.
On the test car, the leather upholstery looked plush but also felt well-structured and the whole cabin, with its sophisticated instrumentation and switchgear, had a real sense of quality about it.
I liked the black upholstery too. Although lighter colour shades often look smarter and give the car a brighter feel, black is by far the most practical.
Accessing the many on-board systems is via the touchpad, controller or voice command, so there’s no messy smudges on the screen which is another plus factor. But you will want to avoid any high kerbs with a fear of scratching those gorgeous 21-inch multi-spoke alloys with their high sheen finish.
The car comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus four years’ Mercedes Mobile pan-European Roadside assistance. There is an eight-year, 100,000-mile battery warranty too.
The Mercedes EQC has secured a maximum five-star safety rating after undergoing Euro NCAP tests.
The car boasts a broad list of safety features and driver aids, such as lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, anti-lock brakes, Isofix child seat anchors and a full suite of airbags.
An optional Driving Assistance Plus package was added to our EQC at a cost of £1,695 and this introduced Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Steering Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Pedestrian warning function near pedestrian crossings and Pre-Safe Plus.
And the EQC also features Mercedes acclaimed 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system to keep you on the move in more severe or challenging driving conditions.