2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC – Premium + Test Drive Review.
The Mercedes Benz EQC is the company’s first fully electric car, under the new EQ series, taking on the likes of the Audi e-tron Sportback, and Jaguar I-PACE that are also in the region. One thing you need to know is that it shares some parts of the GLC (mainly the platform), and therefore, this is not a purely designed EV. Nonetheless, Mercedes Benz have made a great effort giving us a beautiful luxury cross-over SUV that packs a punch that really sinks you in your seat.
Forgive me if I point out the obvious, but the last time I drove a Mercedes-Benz was in 2003 when I drove my mate’s E320, and the last time I was in a Merc was around 10 years ago in another friend’s G500. So, this review might be useful to the non-traditional MB loyalists.
One beautiful sunny day, I get a call that the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC – Premium + reached my home. When I heard from Mercedes that I was going to get a go at it, I didn’t do any reading or research about it as I wanted other opinions to sway mine.
Let’s talk about the looks
I’m a fan of the overall Mercedes-Benz previous and current design elements, and from the get go, I really like the looks. The one we drove had a matt grey finish, Designo selenite grey magno to be exact. For those that don’t know, the paint used reduces exposure to minor scratches because of the way the light reflects off the finish. Also, it looks less dirty than it actually is.
First look at the front and you can see the difference between the traditional Mercedes GLC and the EQC, with the large black-panel surface enclosing the headlamps and grille. Little accents of the blue stripes on glossy black background, and multibeam lettering also in blue, give it the EQ signature look.
The rear lights are slim and connected from side to side, just looking at the rear you can’t tell that it is an EV – unless you have the EQC badge on it of course.
What does that money get you on the inside?
You get in the EQC what you get with any Mercedes-Benz, a proper interior. Unlike Tesla, you get what you pay for. I’ve mentioned it many times before, when you’re paying top notch for a vehicle you should get that value back in parts, features, and technology.
The AMG Line interior is worth it, as it gives it that sweet sporty look and feel. As with all Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the sports seats boast good lateral support with AMG-specific seat upholstery layout. The driver’s seat can be customized in so many ways that will ensure the best and comfortable drive. I’m 184 cm tall, and when I placed the seat all the way back, I could barely touch the pedals – so it’ll definitely be attractive for the giants. But pushing the seat far back, you cut the legroom short for the person sitting behind you. While we are at the back, there’s the annoying transmission tunnel that is there, even though it practically has no use since there’s no transmission or exhaust pipes. So unlike a true EV, it isn’t flat.
While seated in the driver’s seat, you can tell that everything around you is designed for your convenience. The typical Mercedes-Benz wing profile is asymmetrical, with a “cut-out” in the driver area. This is where one of the visual highlights of the cockpit is located – a high-tech, high gloss cassette housing flat air vents with key-shaped, rosé-gold-colored vents.
What baffled me is the lack of storage space. The EQC does not come with a ‘frunk’ – front trunk. In the back, my test unit came with a few bags already in the trunk. The spare tire took up most of the space – I’m guessing there was no room for that due to the placement of the electric motor. Then there was another big bag with the charging cable. And another bag with the jack. And another bag with tools. The car comes with a lot of baggage. Now depending on where you live, in the UAE for example, you can get rid of the spare tire since there are many car services that will come to you in case of a flat tire.
The infotainment and gadgets
The EQC features the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) which has been customized for their new breed of EVs – like range, charging status, and energy flow.
What is great about this car is you really don’t need a course on how to use it. Everything you need to operate this vehicle under regular circumstances, meaning just get in and go, are all within easy reach or access. If you want to set the temperature or fan speed, there are two conveniently located buttons to do so. Kids late to school, the drive mode selector is close by and you can kick it into sport within two taps. This is pretty much the same for other various functions and features that you may most likely use frequently.
The infotainment screen is as with any other new Mercedes-Benz vehicles, as well as the steering wheel functions and look. The infotainment is exactly what you would expect from any Mercedes-Benz.
The driver can either highlight the crucial information on the screens or go deep into the nitty gritty details. One really cool feature is you can see how the car consumes and distributes energy LIVE.
The 360-degree view on the car is a bit more refined than other vehicles – the sensors also are less sensitive than Audi’s e-tron Sportback, which is a good thing!
In the glove compartment, and for a hint of Mercedes luxury, there is the AIR BALANCE package. This added feature freshens up the air inside the car. The only issue with that is, well in the car we tested, it never stayed in place. No matter when I opened the glove box, it was always out.
There were many other features of the vehicle that we didn’t have time to experience fully. I would have loved to try out the MercedesMe Connect App to see the vehicle finder, and status monitor (brakes, battery, range, tires, services, etc.) among others.
The drive experience
This car is fast. Though it is heavier than its direct competitors like the Jaguar I-PACE and Audi e-tron Sportback, it can surely move thanks to the max output of 408 HP. On paper it can hit 0 to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. Even in the regular driving mode, you can feel the car take off when you gun it. Switch it to the sport mode and it will smack you back while it gives off that gentle sweet electric whine. The steering and handling are good. You feel in control, across bends at higher speeds. The steering wheel tightens as you go faster and there isn’t much drag when you cut corners and turns fast. You may read other reviews that say it is too heavy and that it doesn’t handle well at high speeds, etc. Well of course, if you roll the hell out of it will sway and almost lose control, but who drives like that anyway? You’re not buying this car to slalom between cars or through roundabouts.
I’m not sure if it was the car I drove (due to it being the test mule), but I did feel that I had to put my foot almost through the manifold to get it to stop. It might be due to its weight or worn-out brakes. If you’re driving within speed limits, this won’t be an issue, but for testing purposes I did floor it and slammed the brakes hard. But again, you wont be accelerating and decelerating so extremely will you?
On the highway, I didn’t get many looks or stops as I did with the Audi e-tron (I’m now sure the lack of mirrors in that one was the ice breaker). But I felt comfortable and safe driving it. It handles really well in cruise, and really you don’t need to drive it except in eco mode. You get the nice drive while using less juice.
The steering-wheel paddles give you the choice of five various regeneration modes. Tap to the right and the car cruises longer when you lift your foot off the pedal. If you’re driving in traffic, then you can pretty much drive the car with just accelerator pedal. A tap or two to the left pedal can give you a maximum 75 percent of the maximum possible regeneration when you remove your foot meaning the car feels like it is braking, almost hard. One other setting here is while it is in ‘auto’ the car utilizes every part of the driving technology to help you achieve the most efficient drive. Heads-up display will let you know when it’s time to coast.
The EQC is equipped with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz driving assistance systems. In the Driving Assistance package, these include new functions such as predictive speed adjustment when approaching the end of a tailback: when a tailback is detected, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC reduces the speed to around 100 km/h as a precaution. In a tailback on the motorway, the lane guidance system keeps the vehicle off-centre to leave space for the emergency services.
Charging and Range
As it was only a short test drive, we had the car for two days, I didn’t need to charge it even though I used it fully. I took the EQC to Sustainability City to check out the easy process of hooking it up to pump juice into it. Unlike the Audi e-tron Sportback, charging can only be done from one side of the car. Also, unlike the e-tron, it was the push to open. There are two ports for you to use, one for the public stations, and the other for the direct plug in to your home socket. I think the next big money maker for EVs is coming up with a better way to charge the cars. Cables are heavy and annoying to unpack and pack. Surely someone is coming out with a wireless option or retractable built-in cable?
One thing I couldn’t figure out was how to plug in the car and turn on the A/C. Not sure if I was doing something wrong, or if it isn’t an option, but again, I didn’t have much time with the car nor the patience to sit there in the heat to figure it out.
When it comes to charging time, as with other EVs you will need to purchase and install a WallBox if the primary source of charging is at home. Going from 10% to 80% can take around 10 hours through the normal charging. Plug it into a fast charger and you can whip up from 10% to 80% within 40 minutes!
With the EQC you get an 80 kWh battery, though smaller than rivals, it still can take you a long way. Again, if driving in the most absolute driving mode efficiencies, you can get a max range of around 450 km. So realistically, you could average between 350 and 420 km with everyday use. If Mercedes went with the full potential of the battery (I believe it has a capacity of 90 kWh) they could have squeezed a lot more than Audi that comes with the similar battery in the e-tron Sportback 55 Quattro. The point here is even though it is smaller, the battery is nothing to be concerned about with the EQC. All EVs range depend on how you drive (or punish it) daily.
Warranty and Service
Though I couldn’t verify on the Middle East website, I believe its pretty standard at 8 years or 160,000km, whichever occurs first. This will change if we hear back from the Mercedes Benz team.
All in all, it is a really good car. It looks good, the interior is great, and the drive is amazing. I doubt the families will rush to this one, maybe a small family or if you’re a power exec wanting to switch to a zero-emission vehicle, then this is for you.
The Mercedes-Benz EQC starts at AED 290,311 ($79,537) inclusive of 5% VAT. The vehicle I drove, the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC – Premium +, is priced at AED 346,317 ($94,881) inclusive of VAT.
You can download the specifications for this test unit here
What I loved
The looks, the acceleration, and the comfort
Little Annoying Things
Not much storage space (as is), there’s no ‘frunk’
The Transmission tunnel. It shouldn’t be there if it isn’t necessary
The wiper control button on the tip of the indicator. Sometimes when indicating it activates