Skip to main content

The EQC is Mercedes-Benz's first electric vehicle.

Handout

Ola Kallenius is tall, handsome and surprisingly young to be the next chairman of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz cars. He is also surprisingly here, in Oslo, making an unpreviewed appearance at the press-preview drive of the Mercedes EQC.

Such events don’t usually merit the presence of auto companies’ senior-most executives, but there’s a lot of synchronicity at play here. Norway has the highest electric-vehicle market share in the world. The car we’re here to drive is the first electric car from Mercedes-Benz. And the launch coincides with the reveal of Ambition2039, the company’s new strategy for achieving a carbon-neutral fleet within 20 years.

The EQC looks and drives like you'd expect a luxury SUV to.

Ambition39 is a story in itself – and the EQC is its opening chapter, according to Kallenius. Speaking on the car, he says “the biggest surprise is that it’s no surprise.“ At one level, that statement is itself a surprise, at least when you consider the EQC’s timing: Among its luxury-brand rivals, the Tesla Model S launched in 2012, Jaguar’s award-magnet i-Pace arrived in Canada last fall and the Audi e-tron is due this summer. The EQC won’t reach Canada until early 2020.

Story continues below advertisement

Tardiness aside, it enters the luxury market’s mainstream segment looking and driving much like you’d expect a luxury SUV would. There’s no contrived stylistic weirdness. The EQC presents as a regular luxury SUV that just happens to be electric. Even the charge port is positioned on its right rear haunch, just like on oil-fuelled Mercedes SUV.

With the port on the side, the EQC even resembles a gas-powered vehicle when charging.

Mercedes says the EQC “sits between an SUV and an SUV coupe” in appearance. It also straddles two SUV size categories. Its 4,761-millimetre overall length sits midway between typical compact and mid-size SUVs. It’s bigger than an i-Pace, smaller than an e-Tron.

Two electric motors, one for each axle, produce a combined 300 kW and 765 Nm of torque. The 80-kWh battery pack lies flat under the floor and can be DC fast-charged at up to 110 kW, which can replenish the state of charge (SoC) from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in about 40 minutes.

The battery capacity is a little less than some key rivals’, but Mercedes adopted strategies to maximize range. The front motor is optimized for efficiency in the low- to medium-load range, while the rear motor “determines dynamism,” the automaker says. There are Eco and Max Range drive modes, with a haptic accelerator pedal that “pushes back” against watts-wasting driving habits; Eco Assist uses navigation date and traffic-sign recognition to prompt the driver when to coast, or to use the regen braking paddles – for example, when approaching a lower speed-limit zone.

A variety of technologies help boost the EQC's range to compensate for a battery pack that is smaller than that of its rivals.

North American EPA range figures aren’t available yet, but we’re guessing around 350 kilometres based on the 450-plus in notoriously optimistic European NEDC testing. With the i-Pace claiming 377 km EPA and some Teslas up to 500 km, we suspect efforts to boost the EQC’s range may explain its slow road to market.

Meanwhile, we picked up our EQC test car at Oslo airport with a planned 160-km drive ahead of us … and less than 80 km of range showing on the car’s display.

No worries. Nineteen kilometres down the road, the Navi brought us to a DC fast-charge station, where 27 minutes of charging at 100 kW replenished the SoC to 69 per cent from 19 per cent, and the range to 214 km from a remaining 57.

Story continues below advertisement

The rest of the drive was characterized more by range complacency than range anxiety. On slow rural or urban roads, and making ample use of the Max Range mode, 145 km of driving delivered us to the hotel with 153 km of range still showing on the display.

The EQC's pricing, as well as its range in Canadian winter weather, is still unknown.

That’s really impressive, but mild, mid-teens temperatures and low speeds helped. Returning to the airport the next morning, we used 94 km of indicated range over 83 km of actual driving.

So, real-world all-season range in Canada remains to be seen.

Likewise the pricing. Jaguar and Audi both ask $90,000 for their rivals, but the EQC is a size class smaller than the Audi and packs less battery capacity than either.

What we can say for now is that the EQC is a quick, quiet, practical and comfortable SUV that also happens to be electric – and has the cachet of a Mercedes star in its grille. As Kallenius says, no surprise.

Tech specs

  • Price: TBA
  • Engine: Dual electric motors, 300 kW
  • Transmission/drive: 1-speed/AWD
  • Fuel consumption (L/100 km): TBD
  • Alternatives: Audi e-Tron, Jaguar i-Pace, Tesla Model X

Looks

Nothing about the EQC's styling screams 'look at me, I'm electric!"

Handout

We see just another coupe-ish SUV. Although the grille treatment is distinct from other Mercedes models, it still has a “face” (a lit-at-night Mercedes star set against a black-panel background) and doesn’t scream “look at me, I’m weird, I’m electric!”

Story continues below advertisement

Interior

The cockpit's single 22-inch-wide screen carries over from several established Mercedes models.

Ironically, the most unconventional aspect of the cabin is already familiar from several established oil-fired Mercedes models – i.e., the single five-inch high, 22-inch-wide screen that sweeps across the dashboard, with configurable digital gauges in front of the driver and the Navi/MBUX multimedia display on the right. One EQC touch, however, is the rose-gold-coloured air-vent louvres. Comfort at the wheel is satisfactory; rear-seat space is adequate, but hardly generous for the size of vehicle.

Performance

Like most electrics, the EQC seems to moderate the electric motors’ instant-on torque on initial launch to preserve occupants’ necks. After a slight softness in the first second or so, the electric motors silently surge it to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. More dramatic is the rolling acceleration, for example, the step-function response when you floor it to pass a car doing 80 or 100 km/h. Dynamically, this is no Jaguar i-Pace: Up to a point there’s a pleasing feel of light, easy-handling agility, but pushed harder, it feels clumsy and heavy.

Technology

As you’d expect, the EQC will be rich in today’s must-have technologies. Besides the “hey Mercedes” MBUX conversational interface, there’s Interior Assist, a form of gesture control, and Augmented Navi projects a live video image of where to turn as you approach the next intersection. A new facet on the semi-autonomous driving side is lane guidance that, in heavy traffic, automatically keeps the EQC off-centre to leave room for coming-through emergency vehicles.

Cargo

The EQC's cargo volume is relatively limited.

The hold is functional, with 40/20/40 split seats that fold flat and flush, but the 500-litre volume is at the low end of the spectrum.

The verdict: 8.0

A low-profile EV for those who don’t need the whole world to know they drive an EV.

The I-Pace may have an odd name, but Matt Bubbers says the electric SUV from Jaguar offers more value than the Tesla Model X, and is overall better at "car stuff" like ride and interior quality.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Story continues below advertisement

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies