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Driven: First all-electric Mercedes a rare beast

Electric Mercedes EQC SUV already a sales hit, though demand to outstrip supply

5 Dec 2019

MERCEDES-BENZ has launched its first series-production all-electric vehicle in Australia, the EQC premium mid-size SUV, marking the start of a soon-to-expand range of battery-powered ‘EQ’ models set to transform the German prestige car-maker’s line-up.


Underpinned by an innovative new retail strategy and a fully equipped specification, the EQC400 4Matic debuts at $137,900 plus on-road costs, though Mercedes-Benz’s now-traditional ‘Edition 1’ model – priced from $144,800 to $146,500, depending on paint–has already sold out. 


It took just two hours to clear the entire first Australian allocation of 25 units. 


According to Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific CEO and managing director, Horst von Sanden, the EQC is a game-changer for the three-pointed star brand, but he is notentirely content with the way things have turned out.


“The only thing we’re not happy about is our supply,” Mr von Sandentold GoAuto at the EQC400 launch in Melbourne this week. 


“On one hand, if we’re not flooding the market immediately it keeps (the EQC) attractive, but on the other hand, there are customers we have to put off and say, ‘You can’t get a car before month X.’


“It’s a pity too because we’re a sales organisation – we want to sell.”


Prospective EQC customers can go online, register to purchase and lodge a deposit, though anyone who has not already done so will have to wait until later in 2020 for their vehicle to arrive.


The EQC itself shares 15 percent of its components – mainly suspension and steering – and rides on the same 2873mm wheelbase as the combustion-engined GLC wagon and coupe, meaning it can be built on the same production line in Bremen, Germany.


Powered by a pair of asynchronous 150kW electric motors – one in the nose where a regular engine would sit, the other between the rear wheel hubs in place of a differential – the EQC’s total output is 300kW of power and 760Nm of torque. 


A single fixed-ratio transmission drives each axle, with the rear wheels only coming into play when the on-demand 4Matic all-wheel-drive system deems full traction necessary.


The electric motors operate in conjunction with a 405-volt, 80kWh lithium-ion battery that forms part of the EQC’s floor, though because the EQC’s structure is adapted from a regular GLC’s, there isstill a transmission running through to the rear footwell. The battery itself weighs 652kg.

According to the Australian ADR81/02 standard, the EQC has an overall driving range of 434km, though Europe’s more stringent WLTP test procedure reduces that distance to 353km.


With an official Mercedes-Benz wallbox installed, the EQC can add 15km of range in 30 minutes but will need to be plugged in overnight to reach full charge.


An ultra-rapid 110kW charger, on the other hand, can achieve 220km in 30 minutes whereas it takes a regular wall plug 12 hours to add just under 100km of range.


In a partnership with Chargefox, EQC owners will have free access to fast-charging stations for the first five years.


Mercedes-Benz’s warranty covers the battery pack for eight years/160,000km, as opposed to three years/unlimited kilometres for the rest of the vehicle.


While the EQC is based on GLC architecture, it dimensionally sits somewhere between the GLC wagon and coupe in terms of its roofline angle, as well as overall interior space.


That lower roofline and a flush underbody improve the EQC’s drag coefficient from a GLC wagon’s 0.32Cd down to 0.28.Repackaging the (air-sprung) rear suspension to accommodate an electric motor while adjusting the internal layout means the EQC’s 500-litre cargo capacity approaches a GLC wagon’s (at 550 litres). 


With cargo width the same at 1100mm, what the EQC loses in roof height (112mm) it gains in floor length (103mm).


As for equipment, the Australian EQC leaves little room for optional extras. 


Standard equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels, multi-beam LED headlights with adaptive high-beam, acoustic front-sidewindow glass, an AMG-Line interior with Nappa leather upholstery, heated fully electric front seats, side-by-side 10.25-inch ‘MBUX’ dashboard screens with voice-actuated control, a head-up display and wireless phone charging.


The EQC’s multimedia system includes DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity anda 13-speaker 590-watt Burmester surround-sound stereo.


Safety equipment includes everything Mercedes-Benz currently offers, adding features like evasive steering assistance and active distance adaptive cruise control with route-based speed adaption. 


And according to Euro NCAP testing, the EQC achieves the highest-ever adult crash-protection score for an electric vehicle (96 percent), as well as the equal-highest-ever child protection score (92 percent).


Besides the sold-out Edition 1 variant, which included 21-inch AMG multi-spoke alloys, black Nappa leather (with platinum-white inserts and diamond-stitching), MBUX augmented reality navigation, an anti-theft alarm package, fan-cooled front seats, an ‘Edition 1’ nameplate and three-zone climate control, Mercedes-Benz offers two options packs.


The first is a $5900 Electric Art Line package, which brings an ‘Electric Art Line’ interior and metallic silver-grey dash-top (all with rose-gold stitching), an energising plus package, air balance,multi-contour adjustable front seats with adjustable bolsters, massage function and seat cooling, a multi-function comfort steering wheel, velour floor mats and a choice of trim colours.

Additional individual extras include an anti-theft package ($1000), aluminium-look running boards ($1200), MBUX augmented reality navigation ($600), climatised front seats ($1800), heated rear seats ($800), three-zone climate control ($1400), rear-door roller sunblinds ($800) and 21-inch alloys ($1800).


Australian EQC deliveries are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2020.

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