Long term test: Pulling the plug on our Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic
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MERCEDES-BENZ EQC 400 4MATIC
- Awesome power delivery
- Range potential over 400km
- Depth of personalisation
- Minimal cabin storage
- AC use cuts range 10 per cent
- We can’t keep it forever
Time is so relative: every second and minute seems to take an age in the moment, but in a blink of an eye, six months has passed.
That’s what it’s been like with the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic. When we locked in a long-term test with Mercedes New Zealand, we were rather excited. Not just that it’s the 2020 NZ Car of the Year, the super practical C-class medium SUV is also fully electric – our first BEV long-termer. And that’s partly the point: it’s a Mercedes-Benz first, an EV second. Third even, behind an SUV.
So what did we learn? Firstly, the easy part. Yes, living with a $150k Mercedes SUV for six months and 9500km is as fantastic as you’d think… well, apart from half of it being in lockdown.
From the smartphone app that allows cabin/seat pre-conditioning – handy both in winter and summer – to the jam-packed luxuries, heated and cooled leather seats (used every day), to the auto parking (used just once), the radar cruise control (the most used driving aid) and the very impressive MBUX widescreen displays that allows lighting colour and favourite button and instrumentation personalisation - there’s just so much depth that even after six months, there’s still more to learn. And yes, that was a long sentence, to reflect that depth.
The rear seats and side-window sunshades kept 2-3 very under-appreciating and spoiled kids very happy and cooled in the 32 degs of this heatwave summer, and the space offered is very accommodating for a family of five.
The boot could have been larger at times of carting around three kids and bicycles during the holidays, but for the most part, it’s large and very GLC-style. Which is great.
Driver comfort is just exquisite, with materials, first class finish and an overall feeling of quality befitting the badge. We crossed paths with around 10 other EQCs in our time, and with the LED bar spanning the front, and the heatsink turbine-style wheels, it’s a distinctively handsome car, too.
The switchgear and operations all become intuitive, like three ways to adjust the touchscreen (touchpad near shifter, on steering wheel or touching the screen itself). Lowlights: not many, but the piano black does show dust and scratches after a few months of wiping/cleaning, even with a microfibre. And storage can be tricky, as your smartphone goes into the deep wireless charger well, and your keys/wallet/etc drop into the cupholder cubby. While there is a big flip-up centre console, I lost count of the times something was forgotten in there (often a mask). Small complaints, nonetheless.
We ran the battery down to 1 per cent and greeted Mr Turtle on the dash with power capped to 25 per cent to get us to a charger. Also, once (and many charges later), the check engine light came on and power dropped to one-third. Like most computer tech problems, an off-on reset cured the ill.
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So to the charged topic: living with an EV. In short, it’s easy, with times of consideration… depending on a number of factors. For the most part, shorter drives and around the city and public charges while supermarket shopping or watching movies made ownership and charging a breeze, as did the allocated EV parking. With few days over 100km travel, we didn’t even bother using the home ChargeMaster wallbox for weeks at a time. And keeping it around the 30-80 per cent charged rate became quite normal and easy.
However, a big trip to Taupo required mental planning a few days out, ensuring any adhoc use would allow time for top-up, with a final overnight-before charge ensuring maximum range: up to 417km of non-AC driving.
Like many EVs, using AC/HVAC cuts around 10-15 per cent of the range with the flick of a switch, not an option on 30 deg days. But around 350km of range was still plenty enough for our use, including many Hamilton-Auckland round trips – and we regularly beat the 336km claim.
Though this did indeed require the use of our home wallbox, bumping charge from 20 to 100 per cent. This, and the weekend fast charges certainly justified the home cost and convenience of the wallbox, as did the EQC’s ability to pre-condition the climate control for a set departure time while still connected, meaning a “conditioned” cabin in a hot garage and 100 per cent battery upon departure.
Once the lockdown freed up again in mid-Dec, another phenomenon happened with all the EVs emerging. Through either poor coincidence or just bad luck, seven public fast charging stations in a row were visited and all were occupied, two cars frustratingly plugging in seconds before my arrival.
This isn’t a problem with petrol, given the “standard” fill times, but with EV charging, it’s somewhat of a lottery to know how long the other car will charge/park for, and it feels intrusive to ask.
The home wallbox was therefore even more important, and when using it every few nights, each month it seemed to add around $30-$40 to the “fuel” bill, still less than a comparable petrol bill.
Six months and 9500km down, the EQC proved itself as a Car of the Year in many ways than just being an electric car of the future. Conventional styling with Mercedes design accents, comfortable, luxurious, fast and efficient. Loosely labelled by Mercedes as the GLC for the future, we can certainly see the benefits of commuting.
For its all-around abilities, the EQC sets a standard that others need to match. We’re sad to see it go.
MERCEDES-BENZ EQC 400 4MATIC
ENGINE: 80kWh lithium-ion battery with dual electric motors
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, AWD
POWER CONSUMPTION: 28.6kWh/100km, range 336km