Mercedes Benz EQC 2020 launch review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 18 January 2020

Tim Nicholson plugs in with Mercedes Benz’s first battery-electric vehicle, the EQC.

Mercedes-Benz may have invented the motor car, but the German brand has trailled some of its rivals when it comes to rolling out battery-electric vehicles.

Rival BMW launched its i3 city car several years ago, Jaguar launched its I-Pace EV last year and Tesla beat all comers to market. But Benz says it has the most complete EV package yet with the EQC. Mercedes’ first EV is similar in size to the GLC medium SUV, but the two models only share steering and suspension components. The EQC has proven popular even before it launched. The initial Australian allocation has sold out and if you order one now it won’t arrive until late 2020. But there are more all-electric Benz EQ models, as well as more hybrids and plug-in hybrids, on the way.  

Blue Mercedes Benz EQC plug in electric vehicle

What do you get for the price?

The EQC is offered in just one highly specified variant – the EQC 400 4Matic. Pricing for the EQC is $137,900 before on-road costs, which is comparable to equivalent variants of electric SUV rivals like the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace. Mercedes is rolling out a new sales model for the EQC. The vehicle will be sold directly from Mercedes-Benz Australia to the customer, even though buyers can still go to one of nine selected dealers around the country to make their purchase. You can also buy it online. Benz says there will be no discounting and that the price is fixed across the country.

You get a lot of car for the money – as you should for a circa-$140k vehicle. All the latest Benz tech gadgets are included, including the MBUX operating system that allows users to use the “Hey, Mercedes” voice command to change the in-cabin temperature, find a charging station or a nearby restaurant. 

Highlighting Benz’s focus on sustainability, the EQC incorporates about 100 recycled parts. The car-maker is also planning for all its manufacturing plants to be carbon neutral by 2022.

How safe is it?

ANCAP awarded the EQC a five-star crash safety rating. The safety watchdog noted that the EQC received the highest-ever adult-occupant score for an electric vehicle and the equal highest-ever child-occupant score of any car. The EQC comes standard with nine airbags and the Driving Assistance Plus package that includes Active Distance Distronic, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Braking Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Pre-Safe System and Attention Assist.

Interior shot of Mercedes Benz EQC plug in electric vehicle
Blue Mercedes Benz EQC plug in electric vehicle charging at station

What is it like inside?

The cabin is typically modern Mercedes-Benz, but with some interesting materials, some of them recycled. The dash is covered in a material that feels like stretched wetsuit fabric, but it looks great. The seats are super supportive and you can opt for Artico man-made ‘leather’ instead of real leather as a no-cost option.

The instrument cluster is housed in one of two connected 10.25-inch display screens as seen on other Benz products, such as the A-Class. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard, as is ambient lighting with 64 colours, heated front seats, digital radio and a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system. While the “Hey, Mercedes” command is a neat trick, it didn’t understand a couple of our quite basic requests. BMW’s similar system has the edge at the moment.

Second-row occupants have plenty of space and the boot is only marginally smaller than the GLC, with 500 litres of space. Rear visibility is impacted by the small rear windscreen, but the EQC has cameras and sensors to help with reversing and parking manoeuvres.

What's under the bonnet?  

The all-electric EQC has two 150kW electric motors – one at each axle – producing a total of 300kW of power and 760Nm of torque. The powerplant also consists of a 405-volt, 80kWh lithium-ion battery. The big Benz – it weighs in at a hefty 2425 kilograms – drives all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

Is it efficient?

The EQC has a driving range of 353 kilometres on the globally recognised WLTP (Worldwide Light Vehicle Test Procedure) standard. After a fairly full day of driving in urban areas and on some twisty country roads between Melbourne’s CBD and RACV Torquay Resort, via Bacchus Marsh and Bannockburn, we were left with 76 kilometres of range at our destination. Benz says the power consumption of the EQC is 22.2kWh/100km, but after our stint behind the wheel engaging in a mix of driving styles, we recorded a thirstier figure of 28.2kWh/100km. The EQC produces no CO2 emissions.

In terms of public charging, you can add 220 kilometres of range in 30 minutes using an ultra-rapid charger. Mercedes-Benz Australia has partnered with national EV charging network Chargefox. If you’d rather charge your EQC at home, Mercedes is offering a wallbox for $1250, which does not include installation. At 7.4kW, it can add about 15 kilometres of range in 30 minutes, but charging via a regular 240-volt domestic outlet adds just four kilometres in the same amount of time. The EQC uses the Type 2 CCS standard charging plug and has an eight-metre cable for charging at home.

How does it drive?

As with many EVs, the EQC’s acceleration from a standing start is brisk. It picks up speed at a rapid pace, thanks to the instant torque. At nearly 2.5 tonnes it’s a heavy car and it feels it on the road. It’s not a nimble car. The ride quality is mostly comfortable on smooth road surfaces, but it gets a bit crashy over potholes and big speed bumps. 

At speeds under 30kmh the EQC emits a noise to ensure it can be heard by pedestrians and cyclists. Obviously there is no engine noise but cabin insulation keeps out wind and road noise.  

Should I buy one?

The EQC is an exciting car to drive and it feels properly premium. Range-wise it trails the I-Pace and the Model X, but there’s a lot to like in this high-end offering and Benz fans who have been waiting for a true eco car will love it.