Tesla Model X 2019 review: Long Range tow test
Has Tesla solved range anxiety AND built a car you can tow a caravan with?
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
Sorry, there are no cars that match your search
Remember the bad old days, back when buying an eco-friendly car meant you'd be forced to wave goodbye to any hope of driving excitement - not to mention your social life - the moment you picked up the keys?
From the Toyota Prius to the Honda Insight, our earliest adventures into the world of efficient motoring were, almost without exception, every bit as exciting as an accounting seminar, and about as effortlessly cool as Scott Morrison's baseball cap.
Happily, though, those days are behind us.
Take this all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC; the brand's first full-production EV, and the first model to arrive under its Tesla-rivalling EQ sub-brand.
It's fast. It's fashionable. And it's pretty damn practical, too.
So, is it finally easy being green?
|Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ 2019: EQC EQC|
The EQC touches down in Australia in October, and while Mercedes is so far keeping mum on most of the pricing and specification details, we do know that it will wear a price tag of "less than $150,000".
And yes, that's a bloody big window. But rest assured the final price will be much closer to the upper end of that spectrum than it is to the beginning.
Arriving in just the single EQ400 trim level, Mercedes' new all-electric SUV should start at around $140k. And that will leave the brand just enough wriggle room to sneak the launch edition cars (called the Edition One, and which get bigger 21-inch alloys and a better interior treatment) in at under $150k, too.
Exactly what you get for your money remains to be seen, but we do know our cars will get the AMG Line Pack as standard, as well as 20-inch alloy wheels.
In the cabin, Benz's latest MBUX software is standard fit, fed through two massive screens that dominate the dash, and you can expect phone mirroring, wireless charging and a very clever Intelligent Navigation system that won't just guide you to your destination, but will pin-point the charging stations required along the way to get to where you want to go.
While most car companies talk a big game about the design potential that arrives with electric cars, and what's possible when you don't need to worry about conventional engines and their accompanying mechanicals getting in the way, Mercedes has taken a slightly different approach here.
Which is why the EQC looks a lot like a Mercedes SUV and not a spaceship. There are some differences, of course. Like the cool lighting strips that run the width of the front grille and boot, illuminating the car's features at night, and the new-look slotted grille (the slats now closer together given there's less to cool), as well as a more-sloped roofline. But if you're familiar with the look of the GLC, you're unlikely to fall out of your chair when an EQC drives past.
But that's no bad thing; the EQC cuts a fine and fashionable figure on the road, with the standard 20-inch alloys filling the wheel arches and the front-end standing proud in any rear-view mirror it should appear in.
It's the interior, though, that proved the standout for us. The car's designers have embraced new textures and fabrics - including a silky-feeling vegan dash wrapping that's actually made of plastics, a silver fin-like design element that bookends the dash and rose-gold colouring on the air vents that's meant to ape the copper components of an e-motor - that makes the cabin a genuinely lovely space to spend time.
Mercedes says the EQC is "85 per cent different" to the brand's GLC SUV that it so closely resembles, but the two cars are built on the same production line, and so there are plenty of carryover traits that grace both models.
For example, the interior packaging issues unique to internal-combustion cars, like the central tunnel that dissects the floor in the backseat, is still present and accounted for here, and so is the wide and protruding dash area in the front.
The EQC stretches 4761mm in length, 1884mm in width and 1623mm in height, and it rides on a 2873mm wheelbase. For comparison, the current GLC measures 4656mm, 1890mm and 1639mm respectively, and it rides on an identical 2873mm wheelbase.
In other words, if you've sat in the back of a GLC, then you'll be familiar with the space in the back of the EQC. Two adults can get around in genuine comfort, with plenty of legroom and enough headroom to ensure there was room between my head (I'm 174cm) and the roof lining, but squeezing three adults across the back would be a cruel and unusual punishment.
If you do choose to ride five-up, though, you best hope your passengers aren't sumo-wrestlers. With a maximum payload of 445kg ( compared to 665kg in the GLC), passengers and baggage might need to watch their weight.
Speaking of which, the boot opens to reveal an SUV-style storage space that will swallow 500 litres of luggage, and rear-seat riders get air vents and their own temperature controls.
There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back, and the cup-holder count sits at four; two for up-front riders, and two more hidden in a pull-down divider that directs the backseat.
Mercedes's fist full-EV SUV gets twin electric motors, one at each axle, which will generate a combined 300kW and 760Nm - enough, Benz says, for a sprint to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds. Which is plenty punchy. Top speed, however, is limited to 180km/h. The gearbox, of course, is a single-speed unit.
Um, not a drop. There is an 80kwH battery pack under the floor, which Benz says will produce a range of around 450km, and the EQC can use a 110kW fast charger. We actually used one on the test drive, and found that we could go from 40 per cent to 80 per cent charge in just under 30 minutes. That was running at 83kWh, though, and Mercedes assure us it can be faster when the batteries are primed accept the full charging power on offer.
There are several drive modes, most of which appear in other Mercedes product, but the EQC-exclusive feature is its long-range mode, which puts an artifical step in its acceleration, helping squeeze the most from its batteries.
What's the biggest compliment you can pay an electric vehicle? That it's faster and far more efficient than a petrol-powered equivalent? That it can sneak around in near-silence, with no rumble from the (non-existent) exhaust or roar from the engine? Or that you can bask in the eco glow of emission-free motoring?
I actually think it's something far more simple than that. For mine, the biggest compliment you can pay an EV - and especially an SUV-shaped one - is that there is no obvious compromise required to switch from internal combustion to battery electric.
Having now spent a couple of days tootling around in the EQC, I'm pretty confident it qualifies on all of the above.
Of course, that probably wouldn't be surprising in any other country but Australia. Because while battery-electric cars make up a tiny proportion of our total market, in other parts of the world it is the complete opposite.
In fact, in April, some 58 per cent of cars sold in Norway were EVs, which is a genuinely staggering number. So where better to put this EQC through its pre-local-launch paces than in Oslo?
The very first thing you notice when you slip into the cabin of the EQC is... nothing. But I don't mean that in a bad way, just that there's nothing in there that immediately shouts electric vehicle.
It feels instantly familiar to anyone who has sat in a Mercedes SUV, up to and including the flappy-paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. But while in the GLC, they would help you take control of the gearbox, in the EQC they cycle through the recuperation settings, which can be set to anywhere from pretty severe to barely noticeable, or largely left to their own devices in an automatic mode.
To get maximum regen, though, you've got to be willing to put with a bit of a yo-yo effect while driving, with the heaviest setting essentially pulling the car to a stop without you having to touch the brake. You're better off, then, leaving it in its auto mode, which does largely does the thinking for you.
But the most obvious EV perk on show here is the instant torque on offer. Plant your foot and this EV Mercedes genuinely lunges forward, actually feeling faster than the official claim as it near-silently stalks towards 180km/h.
Now, there is a lot of weight to move around - the batteries alone weigh around 650kg, pushing the kerb weight to around 2500kg - and that's never good news for really right cornering. And while we've only spent limited time behind the wheel to date, I do get the feeling the EQC feels at its best cruising around more sweeping bends, where the power on offer carries you out of corners with ease, rather than tackling truly tight and twisty stuff.
Mercedes has taken an EV-unique approach to the suspension in the EQC, too, fitting coil springs at the front axle, and air suspension at the rear, and the result is a car that positively glides over imperfections - not that there were many on the near-perfect roads of Norway - the EQC feeling soft and supple in a way that suits the nature of this plush SUV.
Much work has been done to minimise road and electric motor noise, too, with additional sound deadening in the wheel arches, and covers places over the rear motor. And while you can't eliminate ambient noise completely, it is a seriously quiet cabin, especially at low speeds.
While Mercedes hasn't entirely lifted the lid on the full safety specification that will arrive in our cars, there is some very clever tech on display.
Our cars should get the brand's full assistance suite, which means AEB, lane-keep assist, active cruise and blind-spot monitoring (which together allow for semi-autonomous driving on marked roads), as well as autonomous parking.
The battery and front motor are protected by their own frame, designed to absorb impact in a crash, and there's also a battery guard to ward of punctures in an accident.
Mercedes-Benz is unlikely to budge on its three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty when the EQC arrives, but the car's batteries are covered for eight years by their own warranty.
Servicing pricing will be confirmed closer to local launch.
It might be the first EV SUV from Benz, but importantly, it doesn't feel like a first attempt.
I guess the point is this; it at no stage feels like you're paying a real penalty for driving an EV - and in fact there's actually several perks.
And with charging infrastructure improving all the time in Australia, the battery-electric future is looking bright.
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|