From £65,720
Our new luxury EV will get us there in style – so long as we don’t forget to charge it
Jim Holder
25 February 2021

Why we’re running it: The EQC won our EV SUV mega-test 12 months ago, but is it an Audi, Jaguar and Tesla beater in everyday life?

Month 4Month 3Month 2 Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Mercedes-Benz EQC: Month 4

The best part of EV ownership? - 17 February 2020

A lot is written on the inconvenience of public charging but not enough on the ease of driving home, plugging in, going to bed and waking up with a full ‘tank’. It’s six months since I’ve visited a fuel station, and I haven’t missed the time loss or mucky hands one bit. There are pros and cons to EVs, but if you’re lucky enough to have a drive, this is a definite plus.

Mileage: 2309

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Feeling toasty comes at a hefty price, even if you can charge for free - 10 February 2021

Yes, it has been cold lately, with frost a regular fixture and the occasional flurry of snow paralysing the roads even in these locked-down times.

No big deal, you might think; it happens every year. But for an EV driver, the cold really is the enemy. This latest scenario has been fascinating for noting the impact that it has had on the EQC’s range. In the simplest terms, the answer appears to be the immediate loss of 25 miles of predicted range, or around 15% of the battery’s charge when it’s above about 10deg C.

In my experience, that’s actually an impressive result for the EQC in comparison to other EVs, with the average loss I’ve noted across a variety of cars being 15-25%. It has been significant enough in all cases for us to highlight this potential scenario to would-be buyers.

But perhaps more notable was the ongoing impact of the cold on range from thereon. ‘Need’ and ‘nice to do’ are very different, of course, and it’s true that I could have used my hands and worn more clothes, but in this £70,000 premium car it seemed foolish not to use the electric systems to defrost the screens, warm the cabin and waft heat at my backside.

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The smart idea – which almost all EVs are capable of – is to do all this before you even get to the car, while it is still plugged in and can sup on the mains to top itself up. I’ve done this many times with the EQC and it works well (it can even be done via an app on your phone). However, on this occasion – good man that I am – with the slippery ice forming, I had left the driveway to my petrol- driving wife and was up on the kerb away from home.

In a petrol or diesel car, you give almost no thought to the energy you are burning to create the energy to warm you or your car up, but in the EQC, it’s quite a stark reminder that your actions have consequences, the depleting range on icy trips equating to around two for every mile actually covered. At one point – and I need to research this more – I seriously wondered if I was using more power running the heaters than powering the car.

That was a worst-case situation – a short trip with everything on maximum – but it does add another thing to the checklist for any would-be EV buyer.

Love it:

Interior The EQC’s interior always makes you feel special. It’s well built, comfortable and full of storage space, and it has just-so seats.

Loathe it:

Kickplates The chrome kickplates on the side look great, but in winter, when road grime is everywhere, they cover you in mud when you get in and out.

Mileage: 2347

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Life with a Mercedes-Benz EQC: Month 3

A festive surprise - 20 January 2020

Tesla’s ‘Easter Eggs’ are surprises that pop up if you press a certain combination of buttons, perhaps making your car look like a Mario Kart on the sat-nav or producing Monty Python’s Foot of Cupid on screen. Well, Mercedes has had a go too, offering a drive to Santa’s home town in the run-up to Christmas. I didn’t take it up, but it made me smile.

Mileage: 2356

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Is it a Bentley? Is it a Rolls-Royce? No, it’s a Mercedes electric SUV - 23 December 2020

Aaaand breathe. Many words have been written about the zen-like state that washes over you when you drive an EV, but I think the Mercedes-Benz EQC experience takes that to a whole other level – so much so that I actually get excited about driving it and can, no word of a lie, feel myself relaxing as I put hand to door handle and prepare to slide in.

How so? I have to acknowledge that 2020 must be playing a part, my commute having become the six steps from the side of my house where I sleep to the side of my house where I work. No question, leaving the front door has become significantly more novel and exciting than it once was or should be – but that’s not all.

While the interior of the EQC draws heavily on architecture found in other Mercedes models, it feels perfectly resolved, from the swathes of uniformly high-quality leather to the gloss finishes and the eye-catching touchscreen across the dashboard that takes in everything from the performance dials to the infotainment system.

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It also helps that the seats are comfortable, there are all manner of adjustments for getting cosy and you sit high, magnifying the feeling of wellbeing as you imperiously glide along. That instant torque you get in an EV, so often referenced for its savage performance, is more noteworthy in my book for giving you total control of the accelerator. There’s no estimation required as to how much pedal travel is needed, as progress is deliberate and linear.

Design flourishes, such as the copper-colour air vents that mimic the look of an electric circuit, add a bespoke touch, too. Drive for an hour and it will even suggest a change in the colour of the mood lighting, plus play 10 minutes of uplifting music to keep you alert. I know how crass that sounds, and it’s easy to be cynical, but I find this actually works, too, even if only by shaking my conscience.

This is no Bentley or Rolls-Royce, but the EQC’s interior is so special that those aren’t ridiculous brands to draw a parallel with. Certainly all that I’ve described elevates it above and beyond a mainstream Mercedes experience and puts it, in some ways, into a realm I previously associated with only very top-end cars, as it eases 10% of life’s strains away and makes you feel special.

Love it:

Pleasant reminder The EQC has made driving joyful again for me, albeit with calming emphasis.

Loathe it:

Energy draining I’m a huge fan of heated seats – until I see how much using those in the EQC saps its range.

Mileage: 2789

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Life with a Mercedes-Benz EQC: Month 2

Range estimates still not that accurate - 25 November 2020

With the EQC reckoning it had 225 miles’ worth of charge, the Holder family set off on an 85-mile-eachway trip to Seaford, near Brighton, for a last pre-lockdown walk on the beach on the windiest, wettest of days. Alarmingly, we arrived with 111 miles of predicted range remaining – but disarmingly got home with 30 left. How so? Incredibly, I can only put it down to the wind direction.

Mileage: 1436

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Heart-stopping incident calls safety systems into question - 11 November 2020

Stomp. Honk. Thump. In less than 10 metres, my early morning drive had escalated from mundane school run to fullblown disaster.

The young lad, who moments earlier had emerged from a driveway at pace on his bike, popping out onto the road from behind a parked car, was now flat out, just ahead of the EQC’s front-right wheel.

It had been quite an impact, him having turned out looking only for traffic behind him, me filling all the road space as I negotiated my way down a residential street with parked cars on either side. Thankfully, I’d just passed a refuse truck so had slowed as workers wandered to and fro, not necessarily tuned in to listen for an electric car, and therefore had enough time to both stop before the boy hit me and sound the horn, so that he could both brake and pull the sort of face that you think is the sole preserve of hammy actors.

As I jumped out of the car, leaving a one-time critic of what I’d hitherto thought were absurdly slow 20mph zones behind for ever more, the boy leapt up, insisting he was fine. His slow walk to the pavement, where he took a seat, suggested otherwise. The binmen and I dusted him down, checked him over, suggested the helmet attached to his handlebars might be better affixed to his head and… he got back on the bike and cycled off as fast as he could, I suspect fearing a telling off. In truth, I’ve never been so glad for a scratch on my car.

Even so, although I was able – just – to stop before impact, there’s no escaping the harsh truth that everything I was doing or did might not have been enough to save him from injury a few seconds later.

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That, in turn, got me thinking about the EQC’s safety systems. Just two weeks earlier, they had instigated an emergency stop as a mother and three young children walked on the pavement near the car. Yes, the kids were weaving about, but at no point had I thought they would spill onto the road. It was an experience that had left me shaken and grateful that there was nobody behind me. Now after the boy-on-bike incident, I was wondering why those same systems had this time done nothing to try to help me.

I know the driver must always take responsibility, but this mish-mash of intervention and non-intervention, each perfectly at the wrong time, has left a deep impression. While I know there’s more time and effort to be expended, it certainly raises further questions about the capabilities of self-driving tech and the risk of it causing incidents by over-reacting or not reacting at all, as the various radar systems evidently don’t have a good enough line of sight or make the right decisions.

I was lucky enough to get the best-case outcomes from the worst-case failures: no rear-end shunt from that emergency stop, no motoring into and over the boy and his bike. If, conversely, it ever steps in at the right time, I’ll forever be grateful.

But I have never relied on safety tech, and nor can I imagine doing so in my lifetime. Proof, to my mind at least, that the step from laboratory to real life is fraught with more complications than many imagine.

Love it:

Interior The scene-stealingly futuristic cabin is as plush as you could want.

Loathe it:

Form over function There are too many controls that are hard to access.


Mileage: 1261

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How far between pedals? - 28 October 2020

The EQC is far from the only culprit, but the scourge of the offset pedal needs highlighting. In this two-pedal set-up, my right foot is forced too far to the side to line up with the accelerator, prompting a kneegrinding pivot to come across to the brake. It doesn’t slow the movement down so is perfectly safe, but it does grind on my middle-aged joints.

Mileage: 1082

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Life with a Mercedes-Benz EQC: Month 1

Talk to me - 7 October 2020

I had high hopes for Mercedes’ voice recognition. But it’s proving a bit hit and miss so far; sometimes it picks up my commands – even complex postcodes – but at other times it gets confused. It’s early days, and I’m finding a more relaxed chatting voice is more effective than a carefully enunciated one. Let’s hope we learn to get along better in time.

Mileage: 698

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Welcoming the EQC to the fleet - 23 September 2020

Sometimes it takes a little jeopardy to push boundaries. Just the night before, I’d done a radio phone-in about electric cars, suggesting that they’re generally hugely capable and that for many more people than are buying them, they could be the perfect means of transport. And then I went to bed without checking my schedule for the next day.

So it was with no little amount of horror that I then awoke to discover that – after six months of commuting 12 paces from my bed to my chair – I was due in Northampton, 89 miles away, and that I hadn’t charged the rather lovely Mercedes-Benz EQC overnight. Did I grab the keys to my wife’s trusty 10-year-old Honda Civic, or did I live the change I wanted to see?

I’ll admit that my hand flicked from one set of keys to the other more than once but, after a calming few minutes online researching charger locations, I knew I had to live by my own words. My almost-calamitous organisation meant I had to leave 30 minutes earlier than otherwise but, if all went well, I’d be on time and have enough electrons whizzing around beneath my feet to get home again.

And – surprise, surprise – I drove, I stopped and a 35-minute stop at an Ionity/Polar charging station just off the M1 delivered around 70 miles of charge. Naysayers take note: there were 11 fairly-high-speed chargers at this well-known location, and I was the only one using them; come a short distance off the motorway these days and it feels like you’re never far from a chance for a rapid top-up. And while I waited, I was able to go online and clear my emails, so even having to leave early had upsides, too.

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So now experience means my personal comfort zone on how far I’m prepared to go when I’m out and about is greatly expanded – and I can look forward to really enjoying the merits of the EQC, Mercedes’ first effort at an all-in electric vehicle and a pioneer of the firm’s EQ sub-brand.

Sure, it might look familiar to anyone who has ever clapped their eyes on a GLC, bar the coupé-like rear end and some nifty design flourishes, from the XL-sized badge, wheels and light arrangements through to the copper-coloured finishes on the air vents (to look like the internals of circuit boards, naturally), but Mercedes is far from the only one to have gone for a relatively conservative start to this journey.

The EQC is a car that has been eagerly anticipated on our fleet for some time, not just because it carries a large price tag and the promise of premium refinements and some cutting-edge tech, but also because it was declared the winner of an all-electric showdown with the Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X by our road test team last year. It edged the verdict on account of being much the easiest of the cars to live with, as well as delivering decent, if not class-leading, quantities of those sometimes most diverse of characteristics: driver involvement and comfort and practicality.

No question, this is a car that makes you go ‘wow’. Since it arrived 10 days ago, there has been a line of passing kids peering through the windows (one of the more enjoyable distractions of working from home is earwigging on what future generations think about the cars on my driveway), and that in itself is clear proof of the journey that Mercedes, not so long ago the favoured choice for anyone who considered string gloves the height of fashion, has undergone in recent years. It’s also a trajectory that cars like the EQC must accelerate if this so-called ‘legacy’ car maker is to remain relevant into the future.

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First impressions? To drive, it’s a cut above the average electric car – which means relaxing or fast on demand, with a frisson of dynamic excitement on offer, albeit one that can never hide its 2495kg kerb weight and sits short of what the I-Pace achieves. It’s a joy to be in, from its comfortable, beautifully upholstered seats to its abundance of practical cubbies. The massive, dasbhboard-length infotainment-and-instruments screen and the head-up display give a futuristic air, although I suspect it’s going to take time for the array of screen, dash and steering wheel buttons to all fall to hand intuitively. The voice-controlled ‘Hey Mercedes’ system helps with that but isn’t infallible as far as my southern English mumbling is concerned.

Range will be interesting, too. As it dials into my driving style, an indicated 210 miles is being shown, rather than the official 232. Consider also that it seems to be rating its capabilities around 5% too highly and you end up with a car that records a sub-200-mile figure; that’s potentially 25% short of what I’d consider ideal and less than the Kia e-Niro offers for half the price. It will be interesting to find out if I can learn to use the various driving modes more efficiently and dial my driving style into the car better, too.

Most exciting of all is the fact that the EQC is already pushing the boundaries of what I thought I knew about EVs or was willing to do. Question is, is it going to lead me down a path of fulfilment or trouble?

Second Opinion

I’m most interested to find out how Jim gets on with the EQC’s various driving modes and semi-autonomous driving aids. It’s a complicated thing to get on terms with, as I discovered on the international press launch in Oslo and on a group test. It just shaded its electric rivals in the latter, mostly by being the most multitalented car on the day. But the way the regenerative braking system manages itself around town if you leave it in Auto mode certainly raises some drivability quirks.

Matt Saunders

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Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line Premium Plus specification

Specs: Price New £74,610 Price as tested £77,200 Options

Driving Assistance Pack £1695, Designo Hyacinth Red metallic paint £895

Test Data: Engine 2x AC synchronous electric motors Power 402bhp Torque 561lb ft Kerb weight 2495kg Top speed 112mph 0-62mph 5.1sec Battery 80kWh Range 232 miles CO2 0g/km Faults None Expenses None

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Join the debate

Comments
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The Dr 29 January 2021

Based on this then the realistic range is 200 miles. The reason for getting the extra miles on the way back is probably due to lack of preconditioning, I find that if I do this at home I will get more range on the outward journey. 

Jeremy 29 January 2021

The collisions with the cyclist highlights the big problem with slow-moving EVs. So many pedestrians/cyclists use their ears to check if the road is clear and don't hear silent EVs. Yes, I know the rules are being changed so that EVs have to make a sound at low speed, but this Merc was clearly built prior.

Vertigo 30 January 2021
Jeremy wrote:

I know the rules are being changed so that EVs have to make a sound at low speed, but this Merc was clearly built prior.

Nope, Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems have been mandated on EVs since July 2019. I think they're still manually disable-able (not for much longer) but you have to do this every time the car starts so I'd be surprised if Jim had turned his off.

They're bloody useless though. Most of the external noise of a modern combustion car comes from the tyres, not the engine. Above 5mph, EVs are not silent. If you're driving at 10mph+ and someone can't hear your tyres, they won't hear the engine or AVAS either. As demonstrated here.

In my experience, all the AVAS really accomplishes is mild irritation for the occupants if the window's open or the car has poor insulation.

runnerbean 3 January 2021

Seriously, Jim - are you still navigating by postcode?  In all new Mercs you can simply tell the SatNav the What3Words geolocation and it will take you straight there.  So much easier than a postcode and far more pin-point accuracy too.

xxxx 29 January 2021

w3w, only if you know those 3 words. Even the Mercedes dealers website address only lists the postcode.

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