- Quality interior
- Good balance of controls
- Great acceleration
- Excessive weight affects range
- Overly complex dashboard
- Standard seat isn’t fully electric – so no memory
Range (WLTP): 244-255 miles Top Speed: 112 mph 0 to 62: 5.1 sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 4.6p
Given that the average selling price of a car in the UK is around £35,000, any car with a near-£70,000 price tag like the Mercedes EQC has to be considered a luxury product and judged as such. At first glance, it ticks quite a few of the necessary boxes to warrant this status. On the plus side, the interior is very comfortable and the performance away from the lights means you’ll beat a Porsche Boxster. The WLTP rating means you will go almost 50 miles further than your Audi e-tron-owning friends. The cabin space is comparable to the e-tron, but the shape of the boot makes it feel more useable than Audi’s.
However, lots of features that are standard in other cars from less premium brands are optional extras with the EQC, including electrically adjustable seats with memory. So you will need to spend a lot to get the full package, with the top trim adding nearly £9,000. Is the price of luxury worth it?
Price and Options
Mercedes’ own web site said the EQC has an on-the-road price of £70,665 in one place – and £65,720 on another. When we contacted the sales team, they said that the EQC Sport was £65,720 and the AMG Line starts at £67,715. Confusing. There’s a little irony in the fact that the AMG Line looks different from the front because of the radiator grille – given that there’s no fossil fuel motor to cool. Note that all models are too expensive to benefit from the £3,000 government plug-in grant.
The default colour is white, with most paint options coming in between £685 and £895. You can have a trailer port for £750 and, if you would like the very modern feature of ‘being able to connect your car to your smartphone’, then there is another £299 upgrade for that pleasure. The top AMG Line Premium Plus is a princely £74,610, adding a bundle of luxury and functionality features, including memory seats. You get 19in wheels with the Sport, 20in wheels with the AMG Line, and 21in wheels with the Premium and Premium Plus.
This plethora of high charges for features that most electric vehicles have as standard, alongside the high initial purchase cost and limited range, damages any sense of value for money with the EQC. The last thing to bear in mind is that not all upgrades may be available on every model so if you wanted to buy an EQC ‘fully loaded’, then you can’t start with the entry level Sport at £65,720. The Premium and Premium Plus packages are only available with the AMG Line.
The 85kWh battery is a monster, but the 2,495Kg unladen weight of the car means that the mass is constantly fighting with the force provided by the 408hp dual motors. We’d anticipate a significant increase in range on the ‘designed from the ground up as electric’ Mercedes models that could start to arrive around the end of 2022.
Mercedes is the master of making a car look and feel as though you have bought something truly worthwhile. This is mostly true of the EQC, except for a handful of mistakes that were either too blinged-out in the grille area or borrowed too heavily from the Mondeo school of rounding out the design. The EQC isn’t dramatic but has good looks and the kind of exterior lines that every Tesla goes to bed at night dreaming about.
That said, there are issues. The door lip is high when you get in, so drivers that are less than average height will need to think carefully about how they enter the car. Raising the seat high enough to give shorter drivers a good position will almost certainly create a head-thumping situation when someone taller in the family wants to drive. There’s a fundamental issue here that Mercedes needs to sort out on the next version. Sure, it’s a bulky car, but we drove it down some very narrow roads and it went through fine. So Mercedes is to be commended for making the EQC generally not appear as big as it actually is.
As you would expect from a Mercedes, the front seats are comfortable, and the driving position is excellent. Head and leg room will be no issue for driver or front passenger. However, if you want complete electronic adjustment of the seats with memory function, this does not come as standard. You will need the £74,610 AMG Line Premium Plus version of the car. It’s incredible that you have to spend so much for seating position memory.
The top of the dashboard is a bit of a disaster, though. The pattern of holes constantly reflects on the windscreen. When driving, you want a clear view of the road. Whichever design team sat in Stuttgart and thought, “Yes, our customers will want to see the road overlayed with a pattern of holes the whole time” needs to rethink their career. It’s so off-putting that we recommend you consider this reflection issue carefully before making any purchasing decision. Visibility of the road ahead must be the number one design point for any car.
You get a couple of cupholders and a cubby with wireless phone charging in the central console, with a USB-C port for wired devices. The wireless charging is only available on the Premium and Premium Plus, however. Further along the central console is another, larger cubby. There’s a reasonably sized glove box but some of the space is taken up by a reservoir for a fragrance delivery system, which wafts your choice of scent around the car for a freshened aroma.
The rear seats are as plush as the front ones. However, this is a 4+1 rather than a natural 5-seat vehicle, meaning that you would not want to be sitting in the middle rear seat for any length of time. Assuming there are only two passengers in the rear, however, they will be very comfortable with plenty of head and leg room, and they can fold down the middle seat back to make an arm rest with built-in cubby and two cupholders. Rear passengers have their own USB connections for device charging plus a 12V car power adapter, and their own air condition vents. In fact, the THERMOTRONIC climate control system has three zones – driver and passenger at the front, and a third one for rear passengers. There’s a knob in the rear to make adjustments.
Storage and Load Carrying
The boot will easily take four sets of hand luggage. Only EV-specific designs will maximise use of the vehicle’s internal space. Regular cars that have an electric motor dropped into them will usually suffer when it comes to available loading space – simply because batteries are huge compared to fuel tanks. The next generation of EV from Mercedes may well have even more boot space. There’s also a section under the boot floor with compartments for charging cables and so on.
However, while the boot with the rear seats up is a capacious 500 litres, this only expands to 1,060 litres with the rear seats down. Although you get the added convenience of a 40-20-40 split on the rear seats, the capacity is a lot less than much cheaper, smaller vehicles in the urban SUV / crossover class, such as the Kia e-Niro. Even the Tesla Model 3 has more capacity with no rear passengers. However, the EQC is also rated for towing up to 1,800kg – not as much as a Tesla Model X, but decent nonetheless.
Top end German cars generally look great and the EQC is no exception, but there are caveats here. In stark contrast to a Tesla, the Mercedes EQC dash is overly complicated, with far too many lights and dials vying for your attention. We love cars that include a HUD (Head Up Display) for speed and warnings, which keeps things simple. The Premium and Premium Plus cars at least have this. However, looking down at a kaleidoscopic array of regular dials that have been replicated on an LCD screen adds nothing to the experience of driving. Instead of focusing 100% on the important information you need for the journey ahead, you find your eyes flicking back and forth across the dash, looking for the small, all-important zone that tells you there’s only 40 miles of range left.
The physical controls and knobs are good and familiar to anyone who’s driven a Mercedes, so in that respect, you can operate the essentials without taking your hands off the wheel – which we like. The steering wheel has just the right level of buttons and wheels, and there’s a conventional stalk for the windscreen wipers – are you listening Tesla? We particularly loved the US-style gear change on the dash – which is a far superior design to so many EVs where you have to execute multiple operations to start/move. We’re thinking in particular about all the cars based around the Corsa-e set up. Tesla drivers will also be familiar with this system, too.
There are flappy paddles on the steering wheel for switching between the five levels of regenerative braking, and a stalk for cruise control. A rocker in the central console lets you choose Max Range, Eco, Comfort and Sport drive modes. The reversing camera works well and you’ll feel confident lining up this beast of a car in the local supermarket. Push the right stalk down twice and you’ve moved from drive to reverse. Nice and simple. All cars have a reversing camera, but only the Premium Plus includes a 360-degree view.
The 10.25-in MBUX central display is reasonably well laid out. It offers features like setting a departure time so climate control can get the interior temperature ready. You can adjust charge rate, and you get a nice graphic of energy consumption over time. The sat-nav has live traffic information with a three-year subscription included as standard across all trim levels. You can see your range on the map and charging station locations. The separate air condition controls are standard Mercedes, and exactly the same as the company’s cars have offered for some years.
Performance and Driving
One of the big pleasures of all EVs is the immediate torque and what that makes possible in urban traffic. For example, there’s a 50mph section of the A41 Edgware Way in North London that narrows from three lanes to two at a set of lights. When a red-light stops you in the middle, between a white van and a pick-up truck, you get the urge to pull away quickly when the lights go green, to avoid any part of the ‘sandwich’ that’s about to happen. Selecting Sports mode and ‘giving it the beans’ in the EQC means that you are at 50mph and far away from the road-narrowing, way before it gets dangerous. In other words, this car is decidedly quick, despite its weight.
In fact, the Mercedes EQC’s acceleration will get you to 60mph in close to 5 seconds – only a fraction of a second slower than a Jaguar i-Pace, but almost 2 seconds faster than the Audi e-tron we reviewed. The e-tron (118mph), EQC (112mph) and i-Pace (124mph) all have suitably fast top speeds for UK motorways – so losing your license will be no problem in any of them.
Steering is looser than we would like and the suspension a little softer than we would wish with such a heavy carl, however. It doesn’t corner as well as the Jaguar, but the drive is pretty similar and both are way ahead of the Audi e-tron from a true driver’s perspective. You have to suspect that the reason Jaguar is able to edge ahead of its luxury EV rivals is based, in part, on the fact that it is carrying around 300Kg less body mass. It’s also 6cm shorter. None of these cars have the handling of a Tesla, though.
Range and Charging
This is where things get a little disappointing. The basic Sport has a 255-mile WLTP range, but this drops to 245 miles with the AMG Line and AMG Line Premium, and then 244 miles with the AMG Line Premium Plus. All of these distances better the Audi e-tron but fall behind the Jaguar I-Pace’s 292 miles.
The EQC supports AC charging up to 11kW and DC up to 110kW. It will take 12 hours to charge from zero to 100% on a 7kW home wall box, and 40 minutes to go from 10% to 80% on a DC charger sufficiently powerful enough to deliver 110kW (ie 150kW and above). The Audi e-tron can charge more quickly, with the basic quattro supporting up to 120kW and the 55 quattro 150kW.
Ionity is working hard to create a network of 350kW chargers across Europe, and Mercedes is one of its partners. High end EVs like the EQC need to be equipped to take advantage of that faster charger – especially if they want to get anywhere near Tesla, in terms of practicality for long journeys. The Audi e-tron has an edge in this area. But at least Mercedes throws in a bp pulse home charger with the EQC worth £499, or you can get two years membership of the bp pulse charging network, the most extensive one in the UK after Tesla’s.
No one looking at buying a £70,000 Mercedes EV will be thinking too much about how many pennies it costs to travel a mile, but we have the numbers – just in case. At a standard rate of 14p per kWh for a domestic supply, the refill on an EQC will be close to £12, which means you’re paying around 4.6p per mile. For perspective, the much faster/longer-driving Tesla Model 3 Long Range costs around 3.1p a mile. Over 50,000 miles, the difference in charging costs would be of the order of £700 more for the Mercedes.
The warranty on the EQC is only for 3 years, but it is for unlimited miles, and you get an incredible 30-year anti-corrosion warranty. But the battery has a typical eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty for 162Ah capacity. The nominal capacity when new is 230Ah, so that equates to the usual 70% guaranteed by many manufacturers. This will be an expensive car to insure, though, because it’s in group 50, the top one.
There’s a reasonable level of safety features even in the EQC Sport. Certainly, you will be well-protected by airbags and the superstructure of the EQC should you become involved in a collision, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating. There’s Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Assist as standard across the range.
However, if you want more autonomous help then you will need the Driving Assistance Package Plus for £1,695, which adds active cruise control, active steering assist and an automatic lane-changing system similar to Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot that comes with its FSD package. There a more autonomous emergency braking system with steering assistance included as well.
|Price:||Sport – £65,720; AMG Line – £67,715; AMG Line Premium – £72,360; AMG Line Premium Plus – £74,610|
|Range (WLTP):||Sport – 255 miles; AMD Line and AMG Line Premium – 245 miles; AMD Line Premium Plus – 244 miles|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||12 hours|
|Charge time (50kW, 80%):||70 minutes|
|Charge time (100kW, 80%):||30 minutes|
|Battery:||85kWh (80kWh usable)|
|On Board Charger:||11kW|
|Cost per mile*:||4.6p|
|Cargo:||500 litres / 1,060 litres with rear seats down|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh