Mercedes-Benz EQC marks a clever, future-forward start for electric EQ platform
Another day, another premium luxury electric SUV. In this case, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the first production vehicle to take advantage of its €10-billion EQ platform, a chassis built from the ground up to provide the underpinnings of an entire family of fully electric Mercs in the coming years. The 2020 EQC features a 300-kW (402-hp) intelligent 4WD electric powertrain with a 450-km (280-mi) range from its fast-charging 80-kWh battery.
The EQC – full name EQC 400 4MATIC – is a four-door crossover SUV whose looks seem rather conservative from the front, with the exception of a small LED strip passing between the hood and grille that connects the daytime running lights.
From the sides, there are a few more hints that you're looking at something out of the ordinary, such as the illuminated EQC logo and spunky silver and blue alternating spokes in the rims.
The rear end is sharp, slick and clean, with a slash of tail-light and a glimpse at the smooth black underbody. The overall look steps a touch toward the futuristic but keeps things classy as befits a car like this. We're looking forward to seeing what the designers can do with the platform in a more sporty configuration.
The EQC is underpinned by a twin-motor setup, one at each axle, generating a combined 300 kW (402 hp) and 564 lb-ft (765 Nm) of torque. In regular driving, most of the work will be done by the front motor, which is tuned for maximal efficiency under low to moderate loads. When you plant your right foot, the rear motor will contribute more, adding a sporty and dynamic feeling of acceleration.
The 0-60 mph (96.6 km/h) sprint will be dispatched in 4.9 seconds, making it a few tenths slower than Tesla's Model X 75D, and a full two seconds slower than the mighty Model X P100D. That doesn't make it slow, though, by any means. It'll still feel quite sprightly in acceleration while moving toward a limited top speed of 180 km/h (112 mph).
The battery on launch will be a 350-volt, 218-Ah, 80-kWh lithium-ion unit comprising 384 cells built into the vehicle's floor. Regular wall socket charging will use a 7.4-kW onboard charger, but the EQC is configured to handle as much as 110 kW during DC fast charging, just a touch behind the Tesla's 120-kW Superchargers.
The battery is liquid-cooled, and also features a built-in battery heater to allow consistent performance without damage in sub-zero driving conditions.
Estimated range is up to 450 km (280 mi), which should cover the lion's share of use cases for most drivers, particularly given that fast charging can bring the car from 0-80 percent charge in around 40 minutes.
The EQC features a number of clever touches to make life easier, more comfortable and less stressful. These include things like the ability to pre-heat or cool the car before you get in through a smartphone app, and a navigation system that can calculate shortest-time routes taking into account how fast the charge stations are along your way. That feature comes complete with pop-up notifications on your phone when you've got enough juice for the next leg of your trip.
The MBUX multimedia system features voice control and natural language recognition, letting you tell it things like "I'm a bit hot," or "where's the nearest charging station," using both on-board computers and cloud-based intelligence to decipher and answer your question.
It looks pretty natty, too, with multiple different display modes to create different moods in the interior. It'll also do its best to learn your behaviours, guessing where you're headed based on past driving and popping up suggested actions and traffic warnings you might find relevant.
MBUX will go as far as taking note of regular phone calls you make, or radio stations you like to switch to at a particular time, and will help out by popping up prompts like "would you like to call your mum now?"
There are a number of different drive modes available, altering the balance of performance and efficiency, but one touch we like is a little set of paddles behind the steering wheel you can use to raise and lower the degree of regenerative braking. You can leave the car to decide what to do, turn it off altogether, or ramp it right up to the point where you can drive the car with just one pedal in the vast majority of situations, using strong regen instead of brake pads to do your stopping. That'll be an interesting experience.
Then there's Eco-assist, which sounds fun. If the vehicle detects that you're driving down a hill and there's an uphill section coming up, it'll tell you to take your foot off the e-gas, so it can coast down, skimming regenerative braking to maintain the speed limit and gathering as much momentum as possible for the hill climb ahead.
Likewise, it'll tell you exactly where to lift off the gas when a new speed limit, roundabout, tight corner or slow-moving traffic is going to require you to slow down – all in the name of squeezing maximum miles out of the battery.
There are plenty of other driver assist goodies too, including the obligatory automatic emergency braking (which is able to detect pedestrians and cyclists as well as other vehicles), adaptive cruise and lane keeping assist.
The EQC will go on sale mid-next year as a 2020 model, for an as-yet undisclosed price. Check out the full video from the EQC launch in Sweden below.
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