We take our first ride in the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Oslo, Norway – We could have been driving around in a Koenigsegg, we probably wouldn’t have gotten as many looks from Norwegian passerby. Electric vehicles are a big deal in Norway, and there are actually more EV sales than traditional combustion vehicle sales.
Granted, the Scandinavian country has made every possible effort to promote and encourage the adoption of electric vehicles like the upcoming 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC. That means that driving a new EV in and around Oslo, especially a luxury EV, is akin to driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini in North America.
People gawk to the point of almost swerving into you, they slow down to snap a picture, they go out of their way to stop and ask questions, and they nod approvingly as you zip by on Olso’s EV express lanes that, incidentally, become exit lanes with little or no warning. That was actually the only nerve-wracking part of our Mercedes-Benz EQC.
An electric S-Class with higher ground clearance and hatch, that’s the best way to describe Mercedes-Benz’ first electric vehicle. It’s also the best way to explain just how comfortable and quiet this new luxury SUV is.
It’s so comfy and smooth, we have to talk about that before even getting into the powertrain. Unlike a Tesla Model X or a Jaguar I-Pace, nothing screams “this is an electric vehicle” about the look of the EQC both inside and out. For some that may be disappointing, but if North America is ever going to really adopt electric vehicles, we’ll need more vehicles like the EQC.
Mercedes-Benz doesn’t make a big deal about the fact that this SUV is electric, both inside and out.
Inside, it feels like an E-Class or recent GLE with the same level of refinement and quality. We get the dual 10.25-inch screens complete with Mercedes-Benz’ hit-or-miss MBUX infotainment system, a clean center console that’s easy to figure out after a few minutes, and a range of ways to access the different functions of the car. The graphics inside the center screen are fantastic and again, we feel like we are in any other mid-range or top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz.
There’s also a considerable amount of space in both the front and back row and very good cargo space. The head room and knee room in the back is actually really quite impressive for an EV. The only fault we can find about the EQC’s practicality is the lack of storage up front for cellphones and wallets and such.
And Now for the Electric Part
It’s been a few weeks since I got behind the wheel of the new EQC, and I’m still impressed by the vehicle’s luxury and refinement. Again, it’s remarkably quiet and poised on the road, but Mercedes-Benz engineers found plenty of ways to use and exploit the unique advantages of a fully electric engine.
The powertrain in question develops 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque which means there’s plenty of power to go around. More so than in an I-Pace or any other EV not called Tesla. It’s not as fast as the Model X P100D we tested, but it doesn’t need to be. No vehicle needs to be that fast. The EQC will spring to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds which is fast enough. Various driving modes mean you get varying levels of performance and driving feel out of your electric Mercedes-Benz.
On a winding road, it feels solid like a bank vault with the agility of a cross between a GLC and a GLE. Handling is fairly soft and light in most settings but dial up the sportier driving modes and things tighten up nicely. 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard.
Like many electric vehicles, braking takes a bit of getting used to at first. What feels like a nudge on the left pedal can result in a head-jerking slam that leaves your passenger wondering what could possibly be wrong with you. Being an EV, you don’t have to use the brake pedal if you don’t want to, however.
Mercedes-Benz gives you the ability to choose just how much stopping power will be applied when you lift your foot off the accelerator, from a slight slowdown to a perfect replica of actually using the brake. There’s even an auto mode that scans the road ahead and determines how much regenerative force should be applied.
What the EQC doesn’t have is a system that gives you the ability to use the steering to slow down by pulling back on a paddle like in a Chevrolet Bolt, for example. It’s a feature we journalists love, but when asked about it a Mercedes-Benz engineer simply replied “but you have a pedal to slow down”. Makes sense, I guess.
In any case, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC drives great. You feel isolated from what’s happening outside, but not from the road.
Mercedes-Benz EQC Range and Charging
The EQC’s electric motor gets its power from an 80-kWh battery that Mercedes-Benz says can do up to 471 kilometers between charges. Now, that’s the Euro testing result which has far more leeway than the standards for North American testing which do a much better job at replicating real-world driving and thus provide more accurate range numbers.
It was hard to determine just how much range the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC actually has because Mercedes-Benz didn’t give us a fully charged test vehicle. Various calculation attempts yielded between 300 and 345 kilometers of total range and we are thinking that’s where the official number will come in.
On our way back to Oslo we stopped at a 150-kW charger where we were able to go from 10 % to 80 % charge in about 40 minutes. A North American Level 2 charger will provide a full charge in 10 to 11 hours.
The Mercedes-Benz EQC is so much more than an electric luxury SUV. It’s a refined vehicle that’s the closest thing to a traditional premium utility vehicle we’ve found in the EV world so far. It’s nicer inside than the Tesla Model X, and more put together than the I-Pace with more space as well. It’s certainly a revolution for Mercedes-Benz, but it doesn’t count on that for its success. Mercedes-Benz built a great vehicle that happens to be electric.
Pricing will be an important variable to the EQC’s success and so will be its North American range. We’re thinking it will start at around $85,000 to undercut the larger Audi e-tron and will beat its Audi rival in range with around 350 kilometers. The 2020 EQC arrives in spring 2020, but you can pre-order it right now.
2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC Images