Electrification is thy name of the game! And most luxury carmakers are taking this game very seriously! Enter Mercedes-Benz EQC, the first ever fully electric model from the company. And we drove it at length last year in Norway. Back then, the EQC impressed us with its range and performance and now, we had the chance to test it on home turf. Will there be range anxiety? Will the EQC be able to take on Indian roads? We spent some time with the car in the Delhi NCR region and tried to answer these questions.
What is the EQC?
The Mercedes-Benz EQC could very well be the first luxury electric SUV to be launched in India. Globally, Mercedes has been quite late to the electric party whereas its rivals already had models doing well. Audi had the e-tron, Jaguar had the i-Pace and Tesla had the model X. The Audi e-tron was revealed in India about a year ago, but hasn't been launched yet, while the EQC, sources tell us, is likely to be launched in October 2020.
One must mention that the EQC is loosely based on the GLC and that is evident in the fact that both cars share the same platform and similar design too. Plus, it made sense to adapt an existing car platform in order to keep costs to a minimum and reduce R&D budget too. But, the EQC will come to India as a completely built unit and well, we expect the pricing to reflect that!
Motors and Battery
The EQC gets two asynchronous motors, one at each axle and the combined power output is 402 bhp. Mercedes claims a 0-100 kmph sprint time of just 5.1 seconds. The front motor is tuned for providing optimum, efficient performance while the rear motor is employed to offer a more dynamic feel when driving. Talking about the battery, the EQC gets an 80 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which weighs 652 kg and is mounted on the floor. It packs in 384 individual cells and is of course, water and dust resistant Mercedes-Benz offers a warranty of 8 years for battery, which is an industry first.
The first thing that you notice when you are driving the EQC is the refinement. It is a really refined car and more so because there is no noise of the engine and rustle of the tyres and the hum of the motors barely filters through to the cabin. So the refinement levels are really, really good. And apart from that, as is the case with all electric cars, particularly, the EQC, the throttle response rather is absolutely sharp. All the power and all the torque is literally at your footstep.
The mash of the throttle and all 760 newton metres of peak torque is available from the word go! That means overtaking is absolutely delightful. And if you are talking about the range, it is about 450 kilometres and then some more, according to the WLTP cycle. The low placement of the battery means that the centre of gravity is low and that in turn means the car is stable at high speeds, be it going straight or around a corner. Plus, to accommodate the weight, the chassis has been made stiffer as well.
So if we were to talk about the ride quality of the EQC, I would say that it is still very European, in a sense that when you drive this SUV on Indian roads, the ride quality is slightly bouncy. The suspension does not quite iron out all the undulations on the road. Potholes, bumps and so on and so forth! Even the steering, the feedback from the steering is not that great.
The silhouette of the EQC is that of a typical SUV crossover and so is the stance. More sporty than muscular! The front end of the EQC is bound to draw attention, purely because of the design. It is immediately recognisable as a Mercedes SUV and yet, very different from the familial design that all Mercedes SUVs get.
The big grille with thick chrome surround and the pistol-shaped LED headlights look cool and so do the blue alloy wheels. The rear design is very uninspiring though. Nothing that stands out, except for the rear LED taillights being connected by an LED strip. Overall then it's not exceptional but there's a sense of modernity.
The modernity seeps into the cabin as well and it's every bit premium. The dashboard gets a minimalist design, with the dual 12.3-inch screens angled towards the driver. What really caught our eye were the neat bronze-coloured elements on the AC vents which looks very elegant. The overall layout is similar to that of the other Merc SUVs. The quality of upholstery, the seats themselves feel plush and inviting.
Like any other Mercedes-Benz SUV, the EQC is loaded with technology. Up first is the latest version of MBUX, which makes the SUV connected. We tried connecting our smartphone to the car via the Mercedes Me app and all the functions such as locking-unlocking the car, opening the sunroof and the windows and even checking the charge left in the battery, they work as advertised. Though, there is a slight delay from the time you enter the command on the app, till the time the command is actually executed.
Plus you have the usual list of features such as front seat massagers, a premium Burmester audio system and smartphone connectivity in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While the front seats are well-bolstered, the rear seats are not exactly comfortable and could have offered little more space. In terms of safety, the EQC gets 7 airbags as standard along with a bunch of active and passive driver assistance systems.
The best way to charge the EQC is to plug it in at a public DC fast charger, which gives the car 80 per cent charge in about an hour and full charge takes a little less than two hours. If you were to use a wall-box charger, the EQC takes around 10-11 hours to charge fully.
An electric luxury SUV, like the Mercedes-Benz EQC is going to be a good option for the rich and the wealthy. The EQC offers very refined driving experience, had solid performance and although the design could have been a little better and the ride quality as well. But all things considered, this is a very good SUV be it driving dynamics or comfort for that matter. And Mercedes-Benz is trying its best to get a good first mover advantage in such a niche segment.
Funnily enough, now Indian SUV enthusiasts have an electric SUV to choose from in almost every segment. Starting with the Tata Nexon EV in the subcompact SUV space, then you have the Hyundai Kona and the MG ZS EV in the compact SUV segment and finally, the EQC, which is a luxury electric SUV. The good news is that the smaller EVs have been received very well and it won't be a surprise if we see the Mercedes-Benz EQC on Indian roads every now and then.