2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400: On the Road in the Electric SUV

Published on January 8, 2019 in First Drives by Gabriel Gélinas

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Mercedes-Benz has a strong presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 2019 and the new EQC 400 all-electric SUV, coming to market in Europe in the summer of 2019 and in North America in early 2020, is the main attraction. The Car Guide had a unique opportunity to ride along in Mercedes-Benz’s all-new SUV on the roads near Las Vegas, just prior to the car’s official North American premiere at CES.

In recent years, automobile manufacturers have chosen CES as the venue to introduce new high-tech vehicles or new technologies. Audi has had a presence here every year since 2011. In 2016, Chevrolet had the world premiere of the electric Bolt EV in Las Vegas. Also in 2016, Volkswagen introduced the BUDD-e electric concept, now known as the I.D. BUZZ, at CES. Last year, Mercedes-Benz showcased its new MBUX infotainment system, and this year, the EQC 400 takes centre stage.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz AG

What’s in a Name?
Mercedes-Benz has stated that all its electric vehicles will be designated as EQ models and, as the EQC will be built on the same production line as the GLC, that’s how the all-electric SUV got its name. The number 400 refers to the 400-kilometre range initially stated for the EQC by the German carmaker.

The exterior design is pure SUV, and the EQC is powered by two liquid-cooled electric motors that generate a total of 408 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque. Power comes from an 80-kWh battery pack, developed by Deutsche Accumotive, that weighs just less than 650 kilograms, and the overall weight of the vehicle is 2,450 kilograms. If you have read our recent reviews of the 2019 Audi e-tron quattro electric SUV, you will notice that the above numbers are remarkably similar, with the exception that the Audi has a 95-kWh battery pack.

About the Range
The EQC has a 400-kilometre range according to the WLTP (World Light-Vehicle Test Procedure) European standard. This standard is somewhat optimistic, and may not be attained in real-world driving conditions, particularly in North America where average speeds tend to be higher than in Europe owing to more frequent highway driving. With regards to charging, the EQC’s battery can reach 80 percent of its capacity in 40 minutes on a 110-kW, high-speed charger.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz AG

On the Road
We did not get to drive the EQC, we simply rode along as it was driven by Bastian Schult, the engineer that conducted most of the testing for this vehicle. However, even from the passenger side, the experience was remarkably similar to our recent drive of the Audi e-tron quattro. The EQC pulls away strongly, thanks to its 564 pound-feet of torque and the fact that the rear-axle electric motor is more powerful than the front one, giving the vehicle a nice rearward bias when the throttle is pressed hard. In more relaxed driving, only the front motor pulls the EQC along. The claimed 0-100 km/h time is 5.1 seconds.

The EQC is also very, very quiet, much quieter than the Jaguar I-PACE and it seemed just as quiet as the Audi. You don’t really hear the electric motors at work, just wind and tire noise and that’s all. When I asked Bastian Schult what was done to make the EQC so quiet and smooth, he replied that they elected to link the front electric motor on rubber mounts to a sub-frame, which is also rubber-mounted to the chassis. This double insulation, along with a cover placed on the rear electric motor, accounts for the quietness and the smoothness of the EQC.

It’s more difficult to correctly feel the ride and handling from the passenger side, but the EQC did feel very heavy and shows signs of understeer when driven at a fast clip through the corners, something that also affects the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron quattro. Just like the other electric SUVs, the EQC feels quick in a straight line, but the fact that it is such a heavy vehicle will inevitably affect dynamics. As with all electric vehicles, the EQC features regenerative braking and four modes are available, one of which is Auto Regen where the vehicle will automatically calibrate the level of regenerative braking according to the type of road on which it’s being driven.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz AG

The cabin of the EQC is remarkably similar to other recent Mercedes-Benz vehicles that feature the German carmaker’s new MBUX infotainment system. The first 10.2-inch display replicates the conventional instrument cluster and the second is the interface for the infotainment system to which EQC-specific graphics have been added showing the vehicle’s range, energy consumption and location of nearby charging stations. The front seats are very comfortable and the second row offers enough space for adult passengers.

The overall experience is that the EQC looks and feels very much like a conventional Mercedes-Benz gas-powered SUV, only quieter, as it felt just as solid and well behaved, all the while showcasing the brand’s latest tech. We’ll have more on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC as soon as we can get behind the wheel, which should happen sometime in 2019. Mercedes-Benz also plans to introduce a total of 10 electric vehicles to the market before the end of 2022, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on those as well.

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