Electrifying start to Mercedes-Benz EV range
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Mercedes-Benz has launched its first all-electric vehicle, the EQC, with the promise of more to come in the next three years.
The prototype was revealed at the 2016 Paris motor show, with the global drive programme currently underway in Oslo, Norway.
The EQC goes on sale in Europe mid-year with it expected to retail in New Zealand early 2020 with the price to be announced closer to the date.
It is the first vehicle to be launched under the EQ brand, which stands for Electric Intelligence.
At the launch in Norway, the brand said that by 2022 it would have 10 all electric vehicles in its fleet, including the already launch Smart ForTwo and ForFour, plus the newly launched EQC.
The incoming global head of Mercedes-Benz, Ola Källenius, would not tell the Australasian media in Oslo what the remaining seven EVs would include in the next three years.
“We’ll have big SUVs and small electric SUVs,” he said.
He did concede that the company still faced the high cost of producing electric vehicles due to the high cost of making batteries, so a cheap EV would be a way off. But Driven expected to see an EQS, EQE and EQA in production in the next 18 months.
For now, the focus for the brand is the EQC.
It is being built at the Bremen, Germany factory alongside the GLC and C-Class range, so if there is a huge demand for the EQC then production at the plant can easily focus on it.
The EQC only carries over the platform and suspension from the GLC with 85 per cent all-new including a coupe-style body and LED outline lights around the front grille and rear boot that give a futuristic look.
The EQC will come as one variant, the 400 4Matic, with AMG-line pack of seats and alloys as extra.
It also has MBUX and “hey Mercedes” systems now found in the A-Class and GLE.
The EQC has two electric motors on the front and rear axles, both producing 150kW of power each, and a maximum torque of 760Nm.
The front engine is optimised for low to medium load range, while the rear one is for dynamic performance.
There are five driving modes: comfort, eco, max range, sport and individual plus 4Matic as standard.
Mercedes says charging at a wall box or AC charging stations is 11 hours while DC quick charge is about 40mins. Most owners will get a wall box and just top up overnight.
Mercedes claims it has a range of between 445- to 471kms but those are ideal conditions whereas every day use – air conditioning, the stereo and comfort driving mode - would see that around the 400km mark.
For example, my test EQC had 69 per cent of battery left with a range of 260km, whereas my colleague in the EQC next to me had 70 per cent battery left and 210km range. Someone before him must have had it in sport mode, heating on full due to snow the previous day, and the stereo blaring.
When it came to the interior, Mercedes has worked on creating a quiet cabin thanks to the two powerpacks being isolated by rubber mounts at two points – where the motors connects to the subframe, and where the subframe connects to the body.
It works remarkable with only wind noise heard at high speed. At low speed in max range mode you could hear the slight, what I like to call sci-fi, whir of the battery.
During my two-day drive programme, the ECQ encountered 80km/h country that I used sport or comfort mode, the low speed Oslo city driving plus small town speed limit of 40km/h plus 0-100km/h testing at a private airfield out of Oslo.
Handling at speed and around the pretty sedate Norway country roads was easy for the EQC, mimicking the GLC when it came to handling, but what I was most impressed with was the regenerative braking system in max range mode.
Using the steering wheel paddles you can activate D- (semi-regenerative) or D- - mode (intensive mode). The latter applies the brake lights to alert the vehicle behind you that are braking hard.
The EQC has a cabin payload of 445kg and has a factory fitted tow bar that allows towing of 1800kg.
This means it’s fit for purpose when it comes to New Zealand.