The Mercedes-Benz EQC would be the first electric luxury car in India. Initially showcased as the Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ Concept back in 2016, the EQC is the electric equivalent of the popular GLC-Class. With the EQC, Mercedes-Benz has also introduced a new EQ sub-brand. Here, we have driven the EQC 400 in a special Edition 1886 guise.
Measuring 4,761x1,884x1,624mm (roughly the same as GLC), the EQC has a strong presence in metal. What catches attention at first is the imposing grille with a large three-pointed star leading the way. Surrounding it is a glossy black insert and the integrated headlamps in the console look great. We particularly loved the sleek LED day-time-running light strips which also runs across the top of the grille. At the back, the stout tailgate also has an LED bar running across the tailgate.
A subtle hint of chrome at the bottom and the small rear windscreen make the EQC look rather attractive. There’s black cladding both on the front and rear bumper and side-step on either side. Also, we can see the ‘1886’ badging on the side highlighting that it’s rather a special edition. Rest of the design is minimalistic sans any drama. So if you love an upmarket and futuristic looking SUV which has great presence yet looks understated, the EQC ticks all the right boxes.
Now getting inside the EQC isn’t the most graceful process. Owing to the battery pack positioned between the two axles, the floor is pretty high. Therefore climbing onto the side step and then getting in is the right way to do it. Otherwise, those steps become a hindrance while both getting in and out of the car. But once inside it instantly feels like you are teleported a few years into the future.
Part of Mercedes’ new MBUX system is the single-piece widescreen panel stacked on the dashboard. It works as both the instrument cluster and infotainment system, the touchscreen panel being the latter. There are a plethora of things controllable through the touchscreen while the driver’s display gives out more information than one would require. There’s a special leather-Alcantara combination upholstery, with a dash of high-quality plastic, brushed metal inserts and piano-black materials all around the cabin. But our favourite is the Rose Gold surround on the four aircon vents and same colour used as contrast stitching on the blue upholstery.
The steering wheel is familiar since it’s used elsewhere in the Merc-line-up and so are the electric seat adjustment controls on the door. Talking about the seats, there are multiple adjustments available but getting that ideal driving position seems to be a task. There’s also good visibility on offer thanks to the high seating. And although the EQC looks big on the outside, the cabin just wraps around the occupants. That said, there’s sufficient headroom on offer in the front seats. Moving to the back, the bench-type seat here is primarily for two occupants owing to the intrusive centre tunnel. We found the seatback to be too upright to be comfortable. And these seats aren’t adjustable either but they offer good under-thigh support. On the upside, the boot is large and accommodating. But it’s got a tall and narrow loading lip. And the 40:20:40 seats almost fold flat.
In terms of features and equipment, the EQC offers some of the best-in-class elements borrowed from the flagship S-Class. Apart from that, our car also came with something called the ‘Energizing Coach’. It altered the cabin ambience depending on the mood selected by altering the lighting, music, seat massage and fragrance and air ionisation. It uses data from traffic conditions, weather, journey length and occupant’s heart pulse through a connected smartwatch.
Positioned on each axle of the EQC is an electric motor, so this makes it an AWD. Mercedes says the front motor is optimised for efficiency under low load, while the rear one is for performance. So the combined output of the two motors is 300kW (approx. 403bhp) and a maximum torque of 765Nm. It is fed by a high-voltage 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack sitting below the floor. This huge battery pack translates into a claimed range of 450 kilometres under the NEDC cycle.
Getting off the line is easy. Lift off the brake pedal and the EQC starts to creep forward without any assist from the accelerator. Dab on the throttle and it moves forward in a quick and progressive manner. Although it weighs close to 2.5 tonnes, it doesn’t feel like a heavy car. The controls are light and easy and the EQC is easy to manoeuvre even in tight traffic. Since it’s electric with high-levels of NVH protection, there’s absolutely no outside noise filtering into the cabin. Even on highway speeds, there’s just a hushed whine of the electric motors and tyre noise audible on the inside.
There are four driving modes to choose from – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. Each mode controls throttle response, steering, and ESP with the last one configurable. Let’s start with Eco mode. As you’d expect, the throttle response is subdued to extract maximum range from the batteries. The steering is light in this mode. And even with pedal to the floor, the car moves forward in a restrained manner. So this mode is best suited for city commutes. Switch to Comfort and there’s a noticeable change in the throttle and steering response. In this mode, the EQC reacts well to the inputs and offers the best balance of power and economy. Lastly, switching to Sport is similar to activating the ‘beast mode’ of the EQC. Even slightest input from the right foot catapults this 2.5 tonne SUV forward instantly. Stay on the throttle and you are pinned to the seat as all of the 765Nm of twisting force is available at your disposal. No wonder Mercedes claims a 0-100kmph time of supercar-rivalling 5.5 seconds.
Coming to the brake energy recuperation, there are five levels to choose from. But they are weirdly selected through paddle shifters. While 'D Auto' is intelligent enough to take care of the recuperation itself, the D+ helps when coasting. But if the driver wants to take control, there’s D, D - and D - - with the last one offering the highest level of recuperation. In D - -, the moment the accelerator is depressed, the recuperation kicks like the vehicle has applied brakes on its own. Although it's a bit intrusive, using this model in the city helps boost up range by a great extent.
Charging-wise, the EQC takes 10 hours for a full charge on a 7.4kWh capacity unit. The slower wall mount would take 21 hours with its 3.4kWh capacity. But the 50kWh DC fast charger is good enough to supply 10-100 per cent charge for the EQC in just 90 minutes. Luckily, Mercedes promises to have a DC charger at all its dealerships soon.
As you’d expect from a Mercedes, the ride quality of the EQC is soft and well absorbent. With air suspensions at the back, the EV flattens out each and everything you throw its way and even the sharpest of bumps and irregularities are absorbed with poise. And there aren’t any up and down movements on larger undulations either. That said, the EQC does roll when showed some corners. On the downside, the low ground clearance gives you heebie-jeebies every time you approach a speed breaker.
‘Electric, now has Mercedes’ is a bold statement to promote the EQC. But the EQC is everything you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz. It is refined and opulent, plush and comfortable, loaded with equipment, and is easy to drive too. And with the large battery pack, quick charging and effective recuperation it isn’t the one to give you range anxiety either. Prices are expected to be over one crore. So for now it will be an emotional buy and more of a lifestyle choice than an environmentally cautious decision. So for someone who wants a luxury EV in their driveway and make a statement while at it, there’s no better recommendation than the Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Pictures by Kapil Angane