AS we get further along the electric road, the cars will start to look and drive better. The process has already begun.
From the early days of glorified golf carts posing as ugly smart cars, the designs have improved and range anxiety alleviated as improved batteries and quicker charging options are put into place.
On the tail of the awkward BMW i3 rolled in the sleek, limited BMW i8; an early candidate for its electrifying shape and performance. More recently, the Taycan surfaced, more in keeping with the Porsche family look, and also at quite a steep price. But now with the Audi e-tron GT another sleek sports model wants to light the way, as will many others down the line.
Meanwhile, on the utilitarian front, most brands have an EV on offer, so there’s a lot to choose from.
While electrification may suggest some degree of uniform behaviour in the EV category, it’s proving to be not quite the case. The various brands that want to make a difference are putting in more effort to develop cars that deliver range, connectivity and a unique driving experience.
Coming Round With The Benz
The Mercedes-Benz EQC is the first model under the EQC sub-brand and sends a strong message towards its Ambition2039 goal to have a fully networked and completely carbon neutral fleet in 18 years.
With a total combined output of 300kW and 760Nm of torque available, this crossover SUV sports a healthy 420km range for a full charge, which can take from 7.5 hours if you’re using the 11kW AC charger to 40 minutes with the 110kW DC charger.
New Design Language
The all-new design language in use for the EQ series still comes across as a toned down take on current family lines of the three-point star. The front features a prominent grille — though you don’t require one in an EV since there isn’t an engine to cool down — with horizontal louvres surrounding the prominent logo. The MULTIBEAM LED headlamps with blue markings — the electric colour — are connected by a black panel that makes for greater presence.
The relatively clean bonnet leads into a rising cabin that tapers off into a slight coupe-like slope. The back is relatively flat, with the tail lights connected by a red strip.
This design form is part of Mercedes-Benz’s Progressive Luxury, which, in this case, must be at the start point of the progression.
It’s pleasant to look at, and is capable of serving well as an SUV, with a large boot and enough space within for occupants to have a comfortable journey.
The interior is a bit more progressive, opting for textures and finishes to break away from the usual cliched pared-down design language that seems to be associated with electric vehicles.
But then, bearing in mind this EQC is going to cost you upwards of *$320,000 you would expect more thought and craft to be injected into its creation.
The interior has Mercedes-Benz elements to keep existing customers in familiar surroundings. But even so, the use of different textures moves towards a more contemporary profile. The grooved door trimmings, the copper coloured air-con vents and the fabric like texture of the dashboard covering are unexpected touches that come together neatly.
Equipped with its MBUX multimedia system, the long display spanning a significant portion of the dashboard, colourfully offers a plethora of information about the car — assistance features, vehicle status, lights, and so on. It also provides charging options and you have consumption data and energy flow to help you understand how you can be a more efficient driver.
The multifunction steering wheel echoes some of these features, limited to immediate access to phone calls, volume and cruise controls. A sensor — a small square patch — gets in the way of big-palmed drivers, shifting some displays unexpectedly.
Like most EVs there’s instant, albeit silent, speed to be enjoyed. Swiftly gliding from standstill to 100kmh in just over 5 seconds, the EQC is steady as she flows. A slight rocking due to the larger profile is evident in most SUVs, but not a deal breaker in this instance.
The EQC is comfortable to handle, with enough power to take you past slower vehicles, and delivering a smile on more energised drives.
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The instrument cluster behaves dynamically, depending on the drive mode selected, and your speed. A warning perhaps?
The paddle shifters on the steering wheel allow you to decelerate — in two steps — and return to normal drive by adjusting the recuperation level. This is way more convenient that dropping gears in a petrol engine, where you have to go gear hunting at times.
And the EQC is pretty responsive as it sharply navigates the bends without compromising on comfort.
Safety is taken to new levels with EVs, and the EQC protects the 652kg lithium-ion battery in the floor and all components carrying electrical current beyond legal requirements.
You can see the potential of EVs in the automotive landscape, though there still needs to be more thought about incentives and pricing for greater adoption.
MERCEDES-BENZ EQC 400 4MATIC RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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