Mercedes-Benz EQC Test Drive Review
We do an in-depth review of the Mercedes EQC 400.
Car Tested: Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC+; Road Test No. 1212; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 1.5 crores (est.)
Mercedes’ first electric car is tech-laden, quick enough to excite you & looks the part too, but is that enough to convince buyers to go green?
Cars are going electric. There will be a time in the future when vehicles will be devoid of engine noises, vibrations, exhaust sounds and gases and so on. Mercedes-Benz, a company that has been one of the leaders in the luxury space has come out with their first electric car too. We’ve seen so many luxurious sedans, brute SUVs and fast AMGs from the German automaker’s stable and it is now time to drive, experience and see what their first EV is like. Yes, I’m talking about a car that will be the first proper EV in the premium vehicle market in India when it is launched a few weeks down the line – the EQC 400.
Exteriors – The Mercedes EQC is based on the GLC but of course, the automaker has made tons of changes to the vehicle. Still, it does share many of its structural components with its IC sibling. The EQC is slightly longer and wider than the GLC but both these vehicles have the same wheelbase. The EQC’s face is bold and grabs attention with its HUGE grille flanked by the Multi-Beam headlamps and a DRL strip that runs across the length of the grille. While the grille itself is huge, there’s also a thick black-coloured slab below it, joining both the headlamps. There are no separate fog lamps but the LED headlights are bright enough to light up the roads on the darkest of nights.
The EQC looks beautiful and gets some EV-specific elements too
The EQC has a clean profile, you won’t find any unnecessary creases or cuts here. The curvy design works well and has a smooth flow. The India-spec model gets 20-inch wheels as standard. These wheels look striking and you’ll notice some blue inserts here. In fact, the vehicle gets blue inserts in the headlamps as well and these signify the electrified nature of the vehicle. The rear is again as clean as the front and side. The slick-looking tail lamps cover the entire width of the car at the rear. The rear bumper is quite flabby and Mercedes has used a generous dollop of black cladding in a bid to shed some of the excess flab. EV means this car has no exhaust pipes sticking out but you do get some standard chrome inserts there. The Mercedes EQC looks unique on our roads and it grabs a lot of attention especially in the dark when all the lights are lit up. Mercedes will offer three colour options in India – High-Tech Silver (test car), Graphite Grey and Polar White while internationally you get some more colour choices too.
Interiors – The cabin of the Mercedes EQC doesn’t miss a chance to leave you impressed. As is usual Mercedes fare, the dashboard gets very rich materials and the attention-to-detail all around is too good. The dashboard follows an asymmetrical design and I particularly like the design of the AC vents which not only look unique but also get a nice bronze shade. The ergonomics are nicely laid out, the seat adjustment controls are familiarly placed on the door pads and the steering wheel is similar to some other Mercedes models.
Being a Mercedes-Benz, quality of materials used and the attention to detail all around is outstanding giving you an extremely premium feel
You get dual screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for the MBUX infotainment (10.25-inch each). The instrument cluster is crisp and the displays can be toggled between Sport, Classic and Progressive. The dial on the left shows the speed while the one on the right shows how much % of the total power is being consumed. You also get to see the range and how much percentage of the battery charge is still left.
The EQC gets a vast list of features and one day with the car was just not enough to check out each and everything. Standard fare includes an interior lighting package where you get to choose from 64 ambient light options, seat comfort package which basically lets you adjust the backrest, height, lumbar support and cushion angle, massage and heating functions for the front seats, and a lot more. The MBUX infotainment system is mated to a Burmester audio system with 9 speakers and the sound quality is crisp, even at high volumes. You get two colour theme options for the cabin upholstery – black/beige and black/indigo blue and our test vehicle had the latter. The vehicle also gets a Park Assist function with 360-degree cameras and I found this feature to be very useful while driving or parking the car in tight spots but on our roads, it has a tendency to sound the warning beeps almost all the time since we have people, vehicles, animals, all of them jostling for space on the roads.
The EQC gets a ton of equipment and the infotainment system also has a lot of interesting stuff that you can check out
The driving position is very good in the EQC 400 and the seat can be adjusted in a lot of ways to suit you. Frontward visibility is quite good but since the car is a bit wide, you need to be mindful while driving in heavy traffic. The leather + fabric upholstery on the seats actually felt nice and the front seats are extremely well-shaped, offering good bolstering too. At the rear, space is decent but not that great and it is somewhat similar to the GLC. Leg space is fine but some additional under-thigh support would have been welcome here. The backrest of the rear seat also felt a bit upright. Headroom is decent too but because the EQC gets a regular sunroof and not a dual-pane or panoramic unit, the cabin feels a bit dark at the rear, more so with the black-coloured roof liner.
Also, the floor tunnel makes its presence felt and that limits the leg space for the middle passenger. The boot has a generous capacity of 500-litres and the rear seat gets a 40:20:40 split feature. Mercedes has optimised the cabin nicely to offer more than enough cubbyholes and storage spaces. You get large bottle holders in every door apart from all the storage bins. The 3-zone Thermotronic climate control works fine and cools the cabin quick enough.
Performance – We won’t be talking about cylinders, RPMs or gearshifts but the focus will be on the motors, battery and charging time! The Mercedes EQC 400 4MATIC gets two asynchronous motors, one on each axle. The front motor works on optimising the energy consumption and improving the efficiency. The rear motor works on offering performance whenever you want it. For sedate driving, the EQC works in FWD mode and when you apply some extra pressure on the throttle, the rear motor kicks in, the car goes into AWD and all the power is delivered without any loss of traction. The EQC generates 408 HP and 760 Nm which are very serious numbers. 0-100 km/hr comes up in 5.1 seconds while the top speed is limited to 180 km/hr.
Thanks to the AWD system, the rear motor can assist the front motor to deliver a 0-100 km/hr time of just 5.1 seconds!
Being an EV, the torque delivery is instantaneous and this car pleasantly surprises you when you pin the accelerator pedal. The way it accelerates leaves you grinning or probably shocked, more so for the unsuspecting passengers in the car especially those who think EVs are boring. Yes, EVs, in general, lack the character of IC cars (we love noises, exhaust sounds, even vibrations!) but that doesn’t mean EVs are slow and people are slowly warming up to the idea of these cars. The EQC has a claimed range of about 450 kms (20 kWh per 100 kms) under the NEDC cycle but you can expect a realistic figure of around 350 kms on a full charge. Just to give you an idea, we drove the car for around 180 kms and it still showed a range of 142 kms when we returned it, with approx. 40% of battery charge remaining. The driving conditions were a mix of spirited driving in bursts, cruising on the expressway and a couple of hours in really heavy traffic.
The EQC gets an 80 kWh battery and it takes around 21 hours to charge it using a standard 3.4 kWh home socket. Mercedes will install a 7.4 kWh wall box charger in your parking and with that, it takes around 10 hours for a full charge. With a 50 kWh DC fast charger, the EQC’s battery can go from 10-80% in 40 mins while a full charge takes 90 mins. The EV gets driving modes like Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual which alter the way the power is delivered. For regular driving, the Eco and Comfort modes work really well.
Expect a range of around 350 kms on a full charge with regular commuting and highway driving
The Mercedes EQC 400 also gets regenerative braking with 5 levels of recuperation. You can use the steering-mounted paddles to switch between D Auto, D+, D, D- and D– modes. D Auto, well, automatically chooses the kind of recuperation that is needed while D+ is to be used on highways (useful while coasting). D stands for mild recuperation, D- stands for medium recuperation and D–means strong recuperation. These modes are meant for city driving and you can decelerate pretty well by using these modes correctly. Suppose you’re driving at 40-50 km/hr in D–and you lift off the throttle, the car will come to an almost full standstill without you even using the brake pedal!
Driving Dynamics – The EQC has a soft suspension setup which results in a very comfortable ride. The ride does feel a bit jarring on sharp undulations and there’s some vertical movement at high speeds but you travel pretty comfortably for the most part. The ground clearance of the vehicle is quite low for an SUV (142 mm unladen) which means it scrapes its underbelly on poorly-designed speed-breakers. This happens a bit frequently on our roads so it could be a bit bothersome for some people.
The EQC offers a comfy ride and drives well on the highways but there is some body roll if you push it hard around corners
The steering is quite precise on this car and is decently light too. The EQC weighs almost 2500 kgs but you do not feel the weight while driving the car. On the highways, the steering gets some nice weight to it but it doesn’t score very high in terms of feedback. Now the EQC isn’t meant for going fast around the corners. It is big, heavy and has some body-roll but the Cd value is quite good at 0.27 which makes it more aerodynamic than the GLC.
Safety and After Sales Service – The Mercedes EQC is loaded to the gill with safety features like 7 airbags, ABS, ISOFIX child seat mounts, Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist, PRE-SAFE, ESP, Active Brake Assist and so on. The German automaker has a well spread out service network across the country and EQ-specific technicians will be appointed too. The EQC has also got a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.
Verdict – Mercedes will launch the EQC 400 later this month or in early October and it is expected to be priced in the whereabouts of Rs. 1.50 crore. Yes, it does sound expensive when we compare it to other IC SUVs which offer cabins the size of football stadiums and equally powerful petrol/diesel engine options at this price but the EQC does offer tons of exclusivity, lots of tech and of course a hell lot of attention. It is quick off the line too! If you have a crore and a half to spend on a new SUV and you don’t mind going green, the EQC is the one to consider.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – None
Further Reading –