The start point for the best source of fleet information
The Mercedes-Benz EQC is the marque's first serious EV, a rival to Jaguar's I-Pace and Audi's E-Tron, and the start of a whole electric EQ sub-brand. I.e. It's a big deal.
19in alloy wheels, 10.25in touchscreen media display and instrument cluster, active parking assist with reversing camera, blind-spot assist, keyless go, LED headlights, heated and electrically adjusted front seats, ambient lighting
Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus, Edition 1, Edition 1886
The medium SUV called EQC isn't Mercedes' first EV. Its parent firm Daimler has explored the technology before, including most recently a smattering of fully electric B-Classes and city cars from sister brand Smart - but all were limited in scope (and arguably ambition).
By comparison, the EQC will be produced in the same German factory as 'regular' combustion-engined cars like the GLC and C-Class, with a good supply of batteries produced nearby. So if demand dictates, Mercedes reckons it can adjust production upward, although it is remaining coy about sales and how many might go to fleets.
Mercedes wants to make EV life as 'premium' as regular customers of its brand expect. The EQC employs two electric motors, one on each axle for all-wheel drive, with a combined output of 408hp, offering a 5.1-second 0-62mph and a top speed of 111mph. Its 80kWh battery is good for a 259-mile range and can re-charge from 10 to 80% from a DC charger in 40 minutes. The company is also offering an AC wall-box for £279 (including installation and OLEV grant) to return a full battery in 11 hours.
Mercedes drivers will increasingly be able to tap into the Ionity network too, a joint venture with BMW, Ford and VW Group that plans to install 400 fast-charging stations Europe-wide by 2020. And if a driver ever gets caught without power, Mercedes' roadside assistance partner (RAC) can take the car and driver to the nearest charge point.
The EQC's exterior is conventionally smart, but still reminiscent of the GLC, despite only sharing door handles and wing mirrors. The interior is better differentiated with bespoke materials including a cut-away dashboard for the 10.25in touchscreen (and the MBUX operating system from the A-Class). It has EV-specific features, including the ability to schedule a whole week's charging in advance, and a Mercedes Me app, but it does not obviously offer anything above existing EV apps from Nissan or BMW i.
A matter of compromise
Space in the EQC is fine upfront and in the back, but legroom is nowhere near as good as in the I-Pace, nor is luggage capacity (the EQC offers 500-1,060 litres versus the I-Pace's 656-1,453 litres). This is partly due to the packaging compromises of building on a platform that also needs to fit internal combustion engines, unlike the EV-only I-Pace.
Still, driving the EQC is fun and easy. Instant linear acceleration makes overtaking a breeze, steering is confidence-inspiring, and the suspension is smooth and comfortable for on-road driving. The EQC offers various levels of regenerative braking via steering wheel paddles, with the most pronounced level enough to all but avoid the brake pedal completely for 'one-pedal' ease. Or you can allow the car to work out how much energy to recoup itself for the journey plumbed into the nav. In 'D Auto' mode it will network navigation data, traffic sign recognition, safety information from radar and cameras, and even gradients, number of bends, junctions and roundabouts en route to max-out battery life.
How well that battery keeps its charge was hard to evaluate during our test as Mercedes kept the EQCs topped up, but the company claims 259 miles on the WLTP testing cycle, broadly in line with the I-Pace's 298 miles and the E-Tron's 248.
A sign of things to come
Before the UK Government OLEV £3500 grant, the EQC's range begins at £65,640 for the Sport model, which is close to Jaguar's I-Pace (from £64,495 pre-grant) and considerably less than the slightly longer Audi E-Tron (from £71,520 pre-grant). The predicted bestselling EQC will be AMG Line from £67,635. Compared with these two competitors the EQC is an able contender but doesn't obviously class-lead in any area. With first deliveries in July its biggest relevance is in heralding a wider range of new Merc EVs in more shapes, sizes and price points to come.