Mercedes-Benz has followed in Audi's footsteps by using development cars for its upcoming EQ C as rolling billboards for its electric programme.
Mercedes' first stand-alone electric car will arrive after its archrivals, including Tesla's Model X, Jaguar's I-Pace and Audi's soon-to-arrive E-tron — the latter of which has employed a similar strategy of test car-based promotion. The progress of the EQ C's development is being highlighted with striking new camouflage and a social media hashtag: #switchtoEQ.
The new SUV, which is due for reveal next year before arriving on roads in 2020, is slightly larger than the current GLC and was previewed by the EQ concept at the 2016 Paris motor show.
That car used a twin-motor powertrain that delivered more than 400bhp, suggesting the EQ C could be more potent than even the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, which has 362bhp.
Built on a newly developed Electric Vehicle Architecture platform constructed from a combination of hot-formed high-strength steel and aluminium, the EQ C uses a new wiring loom that enables its driveline to send up to 100% of torque to the front or rear wheels.
This is a 365bhp, rear-drive sports saloon with something to prove. Let’s see...
The loom essentially takes the place of a propeller shaft between the two motors, which are located on each axle, but negates the need of a shaft tunnel in the floor, thereby improving interior space.
The flat floor that holds the EQ C’s lithium ion batteries can clearly be seen on the development car, which has smooth lower sections to the side sills. The weight of the batteries is likely to ensure the EQ C tips the scales at around 2000kg, but the torque of the electric motors should mean straight-line performance will be comparable to lighter models.
A 0-62mph time of less than five seconds is predicted, meaning the EQ C will almost certainly be as quick as the GLC 43. Conversely, when driven in a less sporting manner, the car is expected to have a range of more than 310 miles on a single charge — this would align the model with the Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. Tesla claims the Model X can eke out up to 351 miles on one charge.
Although heavily camouflaged, the development EQ C’s design links with the GLC are obvious. Mercedes designers have chosen not to give the brand’s first purpose-built EV a new look that flaunts its zero-emission credentials, but rather to match its design closely to the rest of Mercedes' SUV line-up.
The EQ C will, however, adopt several aerodynamic features to reduce drag. It will conceal its wipers beneath a flap along the trailing edge of the bonnet, while its lack of grille and flat underside will be significant features to enhance the body’s slipperiness.
Inside, the EQ C will feature Mercedes’ next-generation infotainment and digital technology. The EQ concept previewed how it could look, with a wide screen that spans half the length of the dashboard, as well as touchscreen controls between the driver and passenger — similar in idea to the layout of the Range Rover Velar. Like the exterior, expect the EQ C’s cabin to borrow much of its design from other Mercedes models.
Mercedes will quickly follow the EQ C with the EQ A, an all-electric hatchback that was previewed in concept form at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. That car, also due on sale in 2020 as the entry point in the EQ line-up, will use a twin-motor set-up that produces around 268bhp and 369lb ft of torque, as shown in the EQ A concept.