From £52,8006
Electric version of seven-seat compact SUV arrives in Britain in its priciest form

What is it?

As seems to be the way with the roll-out of the Mercedes-Benz EV line-up, the new Mercedes EQB looks and feels a lot like the conventional Mercedes-Benz GLB, with which it so obviously shares its platform and interior.

You’re either going to be the sort of person who likes the sense of familiarity that this approach engenders or the sort who finds it pretty uninspiring.

If you’re the latter, you can hardly blame Mercedes for pursuing this strategy. The GLB is a popular compact SUV, and even with the arrival of its structural underfloor 66.5kWh battery and rear-mounted motor, the EQB carries over its option of a third of row seats. That makes it unique in its class, which is now a fairly broad church, including the Audi Q4 E-tronBMW iX3, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Volkswagen ID 4 and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

The GLB is also competitively endowed in the drive department. While the rear axle's synchronous motor is favoured for both propulsion and regenerative braking, there’s another, more compact asynchronous motor in the nose. Combined output for this top-end EQB 350 4Matic version is 288bhp and 383lb ft (the lesser EQB 300 4Matic makes 255bhp and 288lb ft), meaning it can hit 62mph in 6.0sec. That means that, off the mark, it will hang onto the coat-tails of something like the Honda Civic Type R.

However, the EQB 350's range is rated at only 257 miles, which is somewhat under par. The Mustang Mach-E Extended Range AWD, to take just one alternative, costs less yet can do 335 miles, and most premium-badged rivals will also go farther than the Mercedes.

Charging capacity is another area where the EQB's spec-sheet appeal is found wanting. The car's maximum charging rate is 100kW, whereas plenty of rivals now offer closer to 150kW and the Ioniq 5 as much as 350kW. It can still recharge its battery from 10-80% capacity in around half an hour, and currently in the UK we're not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to 100kW-plus public charging stations, but that will change in time, and so the EQB is a little less securely futureproofed than the others.

As for trim, the car you seen here is the all-singing, all-dancing Edition 1, hence the 20in gold-tone wheels and various bits of sporting body trim. Once this has sold out, you will have the option of either AMG Line (from £52,145 for the 300 4Matic) or AMG Line Premium (from £55,145).

The latter brings 19in wheels – up from 18in – as well as the panoramic glass sunroof, wireless smartphone charging and various other small extras. However, all EQB models have the closed-off grille and full-width light bars both at the front and back of the car.

2 Mercedes benz eqb 2021 uk first drive review tracking rear

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What's it like?

The EQB makes mostly slick, if forgettable, progress – and perhaps all you can reasonably ask for from a seven-seater electric crossover. That said, the Mustang Mach-E is considerably more rewarding to drive, its elasticated steering feel making it more fun to guide, and the more playful handling balance being sweeter, and in general something someone, somewhere really thought about in terms of driver engagement.

The EQB isn't that kind of car. It's pleasantly responsive and generally easy to place, especially thanks to its commanding view forward, and what it prizes above all else is surefootedness and ease of use. In this respect, the intelligent regenerative braking, whereby sensors detect traffic, turns and road furniture ahead, then slow the car predictively, works very well, although you can also use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to trim or augment off-accelerator regenerative-braking effect as you see fit.

What you can't do, which seems an oversight, is completely free yourself of some regen effect, meaning the EQB never freewheels, which is something plenty of people quite like.

There’s also a slight coarseness underwheel, despite the relaxed long-wave movements you get when the dampers are in the softer of their two settings; it gets particularly bad on less-than-perfect surfaces. A Benz should be more refined than this, and while it's tempting to blame the Edition 1's 20in wheels, this is something that we've experienced with other smaller Mercedes EVs, so it seems to be something inherent to the MFA platform. 

As for the interior, it's mostly plush and comfortable, if a little chintzy, with slick screens and plenty of useful EV-specific functionality (for example, the sat-nav will neatly show you how much range you will have remaining when you reach your destination). 

The floor in the second row is awkwardly high, though. It means that even though leg room is pretty generous, the seating position is a little stool-like. In truth, the front seats aren't that much better, and the EQB doesn't have the long-range comfort you find in, say, the Mercedes C-Class. Or even the Ioniq 5 or Polestar 2.  

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8 Mercedes benz eqb 2021 uk first drive review cabin

Should I buy one?

Ultimately, the EQB’s appeal centres on its seven-seat layout. And if a part-time third row would be genuinely useful to you, by going for this Mercedes you won't be sacrificing anything truly significant compared with rivals.

However, extra seats asaide, the EQB is average at best in all the ways that matter. And average isn't really what Mercedes should be delivering at this price. Along with the relative lack of range, it makes the EQB questionable value for money.

18 Mercedes benz eqb 2021 uk first drive review cornering front

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Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering. 

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Andys 7 December 2021


howtodrawaeasy 7 December 2021


whalley 4 December 2021

Mercedes seem to be at the front of those manufacturers who have failed to anticipate the pressing world wide need to move away from oil fueled technology. As a result they have allowed their massive expertise in drive trains, gearboxes, chassis design and suspension to become run into the sidings of the future. Their current crop of affluent buyers may well have not been interested in buying an electric car just yet but, just as Land Rover buyers like to know their cars can perform off road, I'm certain they are aware of future needs and would want to know that when the time comes for them to buy one, that Mercedes will still be making the premium car. Sadly, now they know they probably won't be. Like everyone else, Mercedes are going to have to learn, develop and then cost effectively make a whole new bag of bits to make the cars needed going forwards. They will start being the competition and it will cost them a fortune to catch up and maybe overtake the rest to get back in front. Which means a future of overpriced, average cars for them just to stand still financially. Tesla, on the other hand, now has that patina of expertise in electric car technology. Priceless in marketing terms, even if its lead is in reality only skin deep.