Mercedes-Benz EQC SUV (2019 - ) review
The Mercedes EQC is a electric, five-seat SUV targeting other premium electric vehicles, including the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace.
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How good does it look?
To help it cut through the air cleanly, the Mercedes EQC is pretty curvy-looking for an SUV. It doesn’t get roof rails either, so it can look a little like an elevated estate at times. It’s undoubtedly a Mercedes though, as evidenced by the large three-pointed star badges front and rear. The ‘face’ of the EQC is particularly distinctive thanks to the large expanse of grille and integrated headlights. The latter look highly technical and they’re advanced LED units. The grille itself comes in standard and AMG Line styles, depending on model, and the AMG Line versions also get a more aggressive front bumper and running boards down the sides that make the EQC look more like an SUV. Slender rear lights use LED technology, too, and they’re joined by a red LED strip. The smallest wheels fitted are a 19-inch design, though all the AMG Line versions get sportier 20-inch alloys.
What's the interior like?
The interior of the EQC borrows heavily from other cars in the Mercedes line-up, but that’s no bad thing, as it’s made of high-quality materials, except perhaps for the shiny black plastic that covers most of the centre console. Nonetheless, the buttons and switches are pleasant to touch and use, and it all looks modern without resorting to design gimmicks.
The all-digital dashboard is highly customisable in appearance and works particularly well with the touch-sensitive thumbpads on the steering wheel. The main display is a touchscreen, too, though the driver can use voice control and the large touchpad in the middle of the car to work it all just as intuitively. Mercedes has given the EQC a few unique bits and bobs, such as the slatted door trim detailing and copper-coloured vents. The basics in terms of visibility and seat adjustability are spot-on as well.
How practical is it?
The Mercedes EQC is reasonably practical, but hardly class-leading in that regard. Neither is it as roomy as diesel and petrol-powered equivalents in the Mercedes range. The door openings are noticeably small, too, which may put taller drivers off, though the front seats offer plenty of space. In the back, there’s acceptable rather than impressive space for passengers, and the middle rear seat occupant has to put up with a raised centre section in the floor. The boot holds 500 litres, which is a decent volume for carrying larger loads, though the floor is quite high up for getting heavy things into. And, while the rear seat backs split and fold to create one long flat surface, it’s at quite an elevated level, so the overall maximum capacity of 1,060 litres isn’t particularly huge.
What's it like to drive?
Like all its electric premium SUV rivals, the Mercedes EQC is a heavy car, which has a direct influence on how it drives. This is disguised somewhat by the suspension, which majors on comfort but also manages to keep unwanted body movements when cornering, braking and accelerating to a minimum. The steering doesn’t give the driver much feedback in terms of grip levels, but the EQC has a noticeably good turning circle, making it a cinch to manoeuvre in tight car parks.
With an electric motor on each axle, there’s four-wheel drive, so the EQC feels sure-footed no matter what the road conditions, though it’s not the sort of SUV you’d take off-road. Instead, the EQC has been developed to prioritise on-road comfort and refinement, which works well with the already quiet operation. The EQC sits between the sportier handling of the Jaguar I-Pace and the comfort-oriented Audi E-Tron, offering a good compromise.
How powerful is it?
Despite the EQC’s weight, its two electric motors give it remarkable acceleration, especially from a standstill. That’s thanks to the fact that electric motors always deliver maximum pulling power from the first instant they start to turn. When they’re both delivering full power, there’s just over 400 horsepower on tap, and the performance the EQC delivers leaves you in no doubt about that figure. Like its electric SUV rivals, the EQC accelerates away from standstill as quick as many high-performance sports cars. The effect is amplified by the lack of engine noise and the seamless power delivery, as there are no gear changes, making the EQC rather good fun to drive.
The electric motors are very quiet in operation and the driver can choose between various modes of operation to prioritise response or range between charges. Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you to adjust how much energy is recuperated during braking.
How much will it cost me?
Like all electric cars, the EQC is cheap to run in comparison to a petrol or diesel equivalent, though of course how much cheaper it is will depend on where you charge it up. As standard, that’s quite flexible, allowing owners to use slower AC chargers when necessary, the optional Mercedes-Benz home charger for quicker charging at home or faster-again DC chargers on the public network, where available. Officially – and this depends on the precise specification of the car bought – the EQC can travel up to about 260 miles on a full charge.
Priced on a par with other five-seat electric SUVs from premium brands (i.e. it’s expensive to buy), the EQC is expected to retain its value well, reducing the cost of depreciation and making it good value to buy using PCP finance, for example. The ‘Mercedes me charge’ package is free for three years, simplifying charging up across the UK and Europe.
How reliable is it?
While there is little historical data as yet on the reliability of the Mercedes EQC, electric cars in general tend to be very reliable as they have fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel cars.
Mercedes has had a decent reputation for reliability in recent years. JD Power’s 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study placed Mercedes 14th of all manufacturers, but the company dropped down the order in the 2019 study. It was still rated as one of the best premium car makers, but had a score below average for the whole industry.
As with other Mercedes models, the EQC comes with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty for mechanical or manufacturing issues and up to 30 years for corrosion. On top of that, the EQC’s battery has an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
How safe is it?
While the standard Mercedes EQC should be a very safe vehicle, going by the company’s excellent record in this regard, it’s disappointing that the most advanced active safety systems are not included as standard. Sure, it has useful blind spot monitoring and parking assistance systems, along with curtain airbags down the sides, front and side airbags for the front-seat occupants and a knee bag for the driver, but buyers need to pay more for the Driving Assistance Package Plus. This features a host of potentially life-saving active functions that work with and without the active cruise control to warn the driver and/or brake and steer the EQC in emergency situations to help avoid a collision. It’s money well spent.
How much equipment do I get?
Mercedes offers quite a few versions of the EQC, all using the same electric motors and battery pack. The entry-level Sport model stands alone on 19-inch alloy wheels, but is well-equipped by any measure. Highlights include an active parking system with rear camera, heated front seats, ambient lighting and the large touchscreen infotainment system. Above that are three trim levels based on the sportier looks of the AMG Line model, which all, at a minimum, get an AMG makeover outside and in, including leather upholstery and 20-inch alloy wheels. The AMG Line Premium cars additionally feature an electric sliding roof, an upgraded sound system, smartphone integration and wireless charging, while the Premium Plus variant adds head-up display, memory seats and an even more advanced parking package.
The premium electric SUV class is made up of a bunch of polished cars and the Mercedes EQC is among the best of the lot. If you’ve decided that you’re ready for electric power, then it’s well worth checking out. What’s more, in a bid to provide a decent electric range, Mercedes hasn’t compromised on its core values, so the EQC is a high-quality product that isn’t at all unusual to drive. The EQC majors on quiet, comfortable transport that won’t cost very much to run.