The Mercedes-Benz EQC is a hugely significant car, although you might not realise it at first glance. It is the first in a dedicated electric ‘EQ’ range from the manufacturer, in which it is investing more than ?10 billion. However, come across it in the car park, and assuming it isn’t plugged into a charger, as long as you didn’t read the badging you would never even know it was electric. 

We have seen carmakers grappling with two distinct approaches to electric car design – edgy and futuristic, or reassuringly similar to petrol and diesel cars – and the EQC falls squarely into the latter category. Even the front grille, often replaced with a smoothed-over design on other EVs, looks like it could come from a petrol or diesel model. Certainly, if you want your organisation’s clients to be immediately bowled over by your fleet’s eco credentials, there are more conspicuous choices than the EQC.

Familiar interior

It is the same story inside as well. The interior’s quality and design is to the usual high Mercedes standard and will be instantly familiar to anyone who has driven any of the firm’s recent internal combustion models, with the twin screens of the MBUX infotainment system dominating the dashboard. Again, you would need to look hard to find anything marking it out as the interior of an EV, at least until the ignition is switched on and battery charge info pops up where a rev counter would otherwise be. 

But is this a bad thing? There is a reason we are seeing more and more of this understated approach to electric car design, and Mercedes is clearly confident that its customers are interested in substance rather than cosmetic flourishes. It is a wise bet too, since the EQC’s drivetrain packs a heavyweight punch, combining two electric motors – one driving each axle – to provide more than 400hp. With the instant response and near-silent operation we are becoming increasingly familiar with as EV proliferation begins to take hold, flooring the accelerator in the EQC is a startling experience, as your head is thrown back against the headrest and this 2.4-tonne SUV catapults itself down the road quicker than most hot hatches, while when driving in a more sedate manner the aforementioned quietness, torque reserves and single-speed drivetrain make a relaxing trip easy. Don’t worry about that weight being a problem in corners either – it is no sports car, but the chassis and four-wheel drive system keep it in check well, giving the driver plenty of confidence. The ride is good too – despite the 20in alloy wheels fitted to our test car and the aforementioned weight, it comfortably deals with most of the ruts and bumps you find on typical British roads.  

Considering rivals

So, what we have here is a stylish, well-appointed, comfortable and very fast Mercedes SUV, that just happens to emit zero CO2 (meaning 0% BIK tax from April), which sounds like a dream ticket. A downside is up-front cost – experts may say EV/internal combustion price parity is approaching, but compared to a similarly sized and powerful
petrol-engined Mercedes-AMG GLC43, the EQC is still nearly £20,000 more expensive on P11D, although that doesn’t include the £3,500 government plug-in car grant. We should also consider that the EQC is far from having the market to itself, with premium SUV rivals such as the similarly understated Audi E-Tron and the more attention-grabbing Jaguar I-Pace in the mix (the Tesla Model X is significantly pricier). 

To summarise, the I-Pace costs slightly more to run than the EQC, but has a longer range, while the E-Tron is cheaper to run – mainly thanks to stronger residual values – but can only do 237 miles between charges. Individual fleet/budget requirements may therefore pull you in one direction or the other, but the EQC is a strong all-round package, with plenty to attract the eco-minded company director. 

Mercedes-Benz EQC AMG Line Premium Plus  

P11D: £74,555

Residual value: 50.6% 

Depreciation: £36,830

Fuel: £2,669

Service, maintenance and repair: £3,680

Cost per mile: 71.96p

Range: 259 miles

CO2 (BIK band): 0g/km (16%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £199/£398

Boot space: 500 litres

Engine size/power: 408hp electric motor