Mercedes-Benz EQC is where EV crossovers are headed
5 September 2018 - Autoblog
The first member of the EQ sub-brand is revealed
Mercedes-Benz introduced its EQ sub-brand today with the EQC 400, an electric crossover with a 4.9-second 0-60 time, in Stockholm. It wears unique styling, but its overall dimensions are roughly equivalent to the GLC-Class crossover. The design shares a strong resemblance to other Mercedes products, but there's enough unique language — especially in the front end — to create some distance between the fully-electric and internal-combustion Mercedes families.
First, let's talk about the EQC's range. We started the day reporting Mercedes' stated range would be around 200 miles, but the automaker walked that figure back a few hours later, saying, "Our colleagues in Stuttgart have advised us that the preliminary estimated range figure for the EQC of 200 miles for the U.S. market is incorrect. For now, we ask that you please use the 450 km NEDC figure (approximately 279 miles). The official U.S. range will be communicated closer to market launch."
However, the NEDC test cycle is known for not accurately reflecting real-life driving — which is why Europe is switching to the more rigorous WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure). For example, the NEDC range rating for a 2017 Nissan Leaf was 155 miles, but the U.S. EPA rated it at 107.
It's not unusual for numbers to be very preliminary at this point, so Mercedes' hedging on its initial figure is not entirely surprising. What it means is we'll be eagerly awaiting the EPA test results.
Nor are there many surprises inside or underneath the EQC, shown here in EQC 400 trim, but taken as a whole it seems like a solid offering in what's going to be a crowded field in the very near future. For one, it doesn't stray too far from Mercedes' strengths. The EQC is instantly recognizable as a Mercedes, and has a safe and shapely crossover form factor. In particular, the interior exaggerates many of the distinctive contemporary Mercedes tropes, like the dual rectangular 10.25-inch media displays found in other cars, but floats them over the dashboard in a massive tablet-like panorama. Behind them are louvers, which Mercedes says are influenced by the heatsinks in high-end stereo amplifiers. The audiophile and technophile spaces share a lot of aesthetic overlap, so it's good combination without being nearly as radical as the Tesla Model 3's central display and otherwise minimalist dash.
Look more closely at the interior and you'll see rose gold accents on the dash vents and in other places. Rose gold seems to be having a bit of a moment as a metallic finish of choice, and if you choose the Electric Art trim level, that's what you'll get. It's warm, and provides some contrast to the predominantly blue accent lighting that has come to communicate to buyers that they're driving an EV.
The Mercedes MBUX infotainment system incorporates a number of EQ-specific features that are located in an EQ menu area. This includes a navigation system that optimizes routes for maximum range, routes you to a charger when needed, that sort of thing. Furthermore, in a nod to the smartphone market's leadership in voice control interfaces, you can now access voice control by saying "Hey Mercedes" in the EQC. Mercedes says it'll respond to natural speech. If you say, "Hey Mercedes, I'm cold", it'll apparently raise the temperature a degree. Interestingly, this isn't a system that is purely server-based. Both the car's onboard computer and a remote server interpret driver inputs, but if no internet connection is available, the onboard computer will do its best – whether this means it defaults back to requiring specific commands or uses its history of server interpretations stored locally to approximate a response is unclear. This is a feature we're looking forward to trying, with and without a server connection.
Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, (BR N293) / Hightechsilber / Interior: Electric Art / Der neue Mercedes-Benz EQC - der erste Mercedes-Benz der Produkt- und Technologiemarke EQ. Mit seinem nahtlosen klaren Design ist der EQC ein Vorreiter einer avantgardistischen Elektro-Ãsthetik mit wegweisenden Designdetails und markentypischen Farbakzenten auÃen wie innen. / Der EQC erhÃ¤lt das wegweisende Multimediasystem MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience, ergÃ¤nzt um zahlreiche EQ spezifische Inhalte wie beispielsweise die Anzeige von Reichweite, Ladezustand und Energiefluss. EQÂ optimierte Navigation, Fahrprogramme, Ladestrom und Abfahrtszeit lassen sich ebenfalls Ã¼ber MBUX bedienen und einstellen. // Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, (BR N293) / hightech silver / Interior: Electric Art / The new Mercedes-Benz EQC - the first Mercedes-Benz under the product and technology brand EQ. With its seamless, clear design, the EQC is a pioneer for an avant-garde electric look with trailblazing design details and colour highlights typical of the brand both inside and out. / The EQC features the innovative multimedia system MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience - which has numerous EQ-specific functions such as the display of range, charge status and energy flow. EQ-optimised navigation, driving modes, charging current and departure time can also be controlled and set via MBUX.
Outside, there are massive Mercedes tri-star logos (which light up in certain markets) and a distinctive headlight design that look like an arc has been taken out of a regular GLC headlight. From that concavity, a band of piano black-finished material (presumably plastic) arcs underneath the grille to link the two headlights. Above (again, in some markets) a band of LEDs in the upper grille nearly links the boomerang-shaped LED running lights. Between trims (Electric Art and AMG Line have been announced), there are some differences in the upper and lower grille areas – either a series of lateral, metallic slats fill the spaces, or just two in the upper and an extra band of chrome outlining the lower grille (giving the effect of a fancy curled mustache).
Mechanically, things are pretty straightforward, as they are with most EVs. This is a dual-motor vehicle. The front motor, the individual output of which isn't given, is set up for economy. Under low loads or when cruising, it's primarily responsible for motivating the EQC. The rear motor is set up to provide performance, and presumably is of higher output. Total available system power is 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes says the EQC blends power continually to match desired performance and efficiency, and we'd guess power is also shifted between axles to maximize traction in inclement conditions.
The lithium-ion battery pack is modular. Two modules contain 48 cells, the other four have 72 cells, for a total of 384 cells and 80 kWh capacity. That puts it mid-pack among its competitors. The Audi e-tron SUV will have 95 kWh, the Jaguar i-Pace has 90 kWh, and the BMW iX3 will have "over 70 kWh". Both the battery pack and the EQC will be built in Germany.
Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, (BR N293) / Hightechsilber / Interior: Electric Art / Der neue Mercedes-Benz EQC - der erste Mercedes-Benz der Produkt- und Technologiemarke EQ. Mit seinem nahtlosen klaren Design ist der EQC ein Vorreiter einer avantgardistischen Elektro-Ãsthetik mit wegweisenden Designdetails und markentypischen Farbakzenten auÃen wie innen. // Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, (BR N293) / hightech silver / Interior: Electric Art / The new Mercedes-Benz EQC - the first Mercedes-Benz under the product and technology brand EQ. With its seamless, clear design, the EQC is a pioneer for an avant-garde electric look with trailblazing design details and colour highlights typical of the brand both inside and out.
There are several driving modes, and most are familiar to Mercedes owners. The two specific EQ modes are Eco (maximizes economy) and Max Range (no explanation needed). The car also has a system called ECO Assist, which uses information from the route guidance, sign recognition, and speed limit data to suggest when the vehicle can coast to improve efficiency. The coasting cue is provided by a prompt on screen and a little diagram explaining why, indicating something like an upcoming intersection or hill. The accelerator has haptic feedback to keep you from jackrabbiting away from stops unnecessarily.
Of course, Mercedes also provides the EQC will a full suite of active safety features: Active Distance Assist Distronic, traffic jam following, Active Brake Assist, and an available Driver Assistance Package with improved brake assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Pre-Safe Plus, and Exit Warning Assist.
The EQC models (likely in EQC 400 guise, as there don't seem to be any other variants on offer) will reach U.S. dealers in 2020. Pricing and finalized range numbers will be announced closer to the on-sale date.