Mercedes-Benz EQC extended test: long time at the top

David Linklater
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Photos / David Linklater


Base price
Maximum power kW
Maximum torque Nm
0-100 km/h
  • Sense of quality
  • Impressive range from 80kWh
  • Neighbours undeniably impressed
  • Bigger battery would put range into big leagues
  • GLC platform doesn’t allow BEV packaging tricks
  • Awesome wheels are fiddly to clean

The idea of long-term tests for a publication like DRIVEN is to experience a car long past that honeymoon period, when the gloss (literal and metaphorical) has worn off and you’re left with day-to-day driving. Then you really get to know the ups and downs of a particular car.

Even when it’s a genuine luxury model like “our” Mercedes-Benz EQC: the marque’s first mass-produced Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and a $146,100 proposition even in standard form.

In my experience, spending a lot of time with any vehicle brings it down to earth, no matter how exotic or expensive. But in my experience with the EQC, after five months in the DRIVEN garage, it still feels pretty special. And I say that after being on my hands and knees scrubbing those gorgeous 21-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels for an alert-level spring clean. You’re welcome Dean and Andrew, by the way.

It’s the little things, right? Pulling the AMG-branded floor mats out of the car, they feel weirdly substantial. A quick run over them with the Dyson and they genuinely look like they’re brand new again, in a way that car mats almost never do. That’s quality.

The EQC joined us with some impressive credentials. The idea behind running it was to get some truly real-world experience of the 2020 New Zealand Car of the Year.

The EQC is still the reigning Guild COTY and will be for a while yet. The 2021 Guild award has been pushed back to a 2022 announcement, meaning a long time at the top for the EQC. It’s accomplished enough to have made it onto the finalist list for the 2021 AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year (announced this issue) – and that’s from the whole judging panel, not just the DRIVEN staffers who’ve been swanning around in the EQC for the last five months.

There’s an undeniable aura of quality about the EQC, from the way it looks like a Mercedes-Benz but looks different to other M-B models as well, to the incredible refinement of its BEV powertrain to the seamless integration of high technology in the cabin.

It’s a beautifully balanced package to drive. It doesn’t try too hard to be sporty, but it’s very quick when you want it to be (we’ve tested it at 0-100km/h in 4.8sec) and the AWD system is impressive. It might be based heavily on the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) GLC, but there’s no hint of compromise in the way this BEV drives. It’s Benz-swish all the way, a character which has carried through to the EQC’s smaller sibling, the $85,900 EQA.

I did wonder whether I’d grow tired of the “widescreen” dash layout and all those bright lights, but I haven’t. The novelty may have worn off, but the presentation and layout is such that avant garde design combines nicely with intuitive operation.

What would I change? The colour, probably. M-B NZ seems to have a thing about white for its EQ press models, but there are a couple of EQCs in my area in darker silver/grey shades and they look great with the AMG wheels and blue badging.

Because the EQC isn’t on a bespoke BEV platform, you don’t get the other-worldly packaging possibilities of some rivals. It doesn’t have the classic BEV “frunk”, either. It’s more a luxury vehicle that happens to be electric than an Electric Vehicle.

The EQC has also provided us with the experience of living day-to-day with a BEV in more general terms. It has a smaller battery than many rivals (80kWh against the 90kWh of the Jaguar I-Pace or the 95kWh of the Audi e-tron 55), but the M-B powertrain seems especially adept at achieving a range close to its official figure of 336km. I’ve always counted on 300km as a given.

Unlike editor Dean, I don’t have a home wallbox quick AC charger in the garage. In the early days I sometimes employed the portable charger (it comes as standard with the EQC) for that final top-up to 100 per cent; but lately I’ve taken to simply plugging in at the ChargeNet 50kW DC station at my local supermarket, while I shop.

You get a good parking space, a decent battery boost for 15-20min and it actually means that for the past couple of months I’ve never had to dedicate any time specifically to “refuelling” the car, because I can do something else while it’s happening. You could never say that about a petrol vehicle.

ENGINE: 80kWh lithium-ion battery with dual electric motors
POWER: 300kW/760Nm
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, AWD
POWER CONSUMPTION: 28.6kWh/100km, range 336km
PRICE: $146,100


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