Mercedes-Benz GLC 2020 review
It's the C-Class of Mercedes-Benz's SUVs, that's right it's the GLC, and the new and improved one is here.
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As marketing slogans go it would seem a bit arrogant from any car company other than Mercedes-Benz. After all, the German firm literally invented the car so it has more experience than anyone else.
So, its arrival into the electric vehicle race, alongside Tesla, Jaguar, BMW and co. comes with great expectations. Fortunately, Mercedes doesn't do things by half and has plans to unleash seven fully-electric models into Australia by the end of 2023.
That's a lot of EVs in a relatively short period of time, so Mercedes is looking to leverage what it already has available to help short-cut the process. Thankfully it has not only 133-years of car building knowledge to call upon, but also an extensive range of popular luxury vehicles that can be electrified.
So, it has big pressure to not only take on those rivals, but also live up to Mercedes' reputation. Read on to find out how it fares.
|Mercedes-Benz EQ-Class 2020: EQC 400 4Matic|
The arrival of such a ground-breaking vehicle for the brand has created an opportunity for Mercedes-Benz Australia to do something different with the way it sells the EQC.
Instead of the traditional model of supplying cars to dealers and having them make deals with customers, Mercedes-Benz Australia will retain control of all the EQC stock, instead supplying nine selected dealerships with demonstrator models to allow potential customers to test drive the car.
The customer will then be able to buy their EQC directly from Mercedes-Benz Australia, with the entire local supply available to view.
That means the price can be more tightly controlled, with the starting price of $137,900 plus on-road costs strictly adhered to, with no dealer negotiations; instead the dealership earns a fee from the company for facilitating the handover of the car.
It's partly driven by a heavily restricted supply of EQC models around the world as demand out-strips supply. Ordering a bespoke EQC now will mean a waiting time of at least seven months.
The limited supply has also meant a single specification of the EQC 400 4Matic for the Australian market, with limited options.
Standard equipment includes an AMG Line exterior package, 20-inch alloy wheels, multibeam LED headlights, AMG Line interior, leather upholstery, wireless smartphone charging, a head-up display, sunroof, keyless entry and ignition and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system.
There was an Edition 1 package for the first 25 EQC models sold, but they've already been snapped up, so no need to worry about that.
Instead, it's worth noting that the brand will introduce an 'Electric Art Line' package costing $5900 that will bring rose gold stitching in the cabin, a circular steering wheel, 'Energizing Comfort Control', 'Air-Balance Ionization', ventilated front seats and the choice of black or beige leather trim.
It's also important to note that the purchase price includes a five-year subscription to Chargefox and its network of public chargers. With chargers stretching from Balina to Adelaide with both fast and ultra-rapid units, it's a big value-add for Mercedes buyers.
While it shares approximately 15 per cent of its mechanical DNA (namely steering and suspension components and the wheelbase) with the GLC, the EQC gets a look all its own.
The German brand has been inspired by technology, specifically the design of computer components to create the overall look, as well as the details of the EQC.
Starting at the front is a new grille design that will carry across all EQ models, in the same way AMG has its own visual identity at the front with the 'Panamericana' grille.
It also gets its own light treatment, with thin daytime running lights above the headlights during the daytime, then at night a long strip runs across the length of the grille to create a striking appearance; inspired by the concept car which featured a digital screen where the grille should be.
Unfortunately, Australian Design Rules kiboshed the illuminated three-pointed star badge that features on the EQC in overseas markets.
Inside the trim is highlighted by a copper colour trim on the air-conditioning vents and other elements. It's a design element taken from copper wires found in computers, while the air-con vents themselves are meant to evoke the look of circuit boards.
Elements of the door and dashboard feature strong silver-effect horizontal lines, which have also been inspired by computer components, specifically heat sinks.
It all adds up to a high-tech look that is very different from any other Mercedes model.
As are the materials, especially the recycled wetsuit-type trim that covers the upper part of the dashboard. It adds to the look and feel of the EQC being something special.
Mercedes specifically developed the EQC to be built in the same factory as the GLC, hence the shared wheelbase and componentry. It also meant not producing a bespoke EV skateboard-style platform that rivals use, which creates more room in the cabin.
Instead, the EQC has very similar room to the GLC, with a transmission tunnel running the length of the interior, which compromises rear legroom for the middle occupant.
Having said that, interior space is on par with the GLC - and any similar mid-size SUV for that matter - with good room up front and respectable space in the rear.
There's adequate headroom for adults thanks to the flat roofline, while knee room and toe room is also enough for a 180cm adult to sit in relative comfort. But with the transmission tunnel it's a much friendlier four-seater even though it can technically accommodate five.
Boot space is rated at 500 litres and features a wide and deep boot measuring more than 1.0m in both dimensions. Cargo capacity is helped somewhat by Mercedes' decision to opt for a puncture repair kit instead of a spare tyre.
The standard charging cable comes in its own bag, but annoyingly there is no specific place for it in the boot to sit, so you have to choose to either pop it under the floor or lose a small amount of storage room.
Motivation for the EQC comes from a pair of electric motors, one mounted under the bonnet to drive the front wheels and a second mounted under the boot to drive the rear axle. Together they combine to produce 300kW of power and 760Nm of torque - which is more pulling power than an AMG GLC 63 S.
It sends that performance to the wheels via a single-speed transmission, as is the case with most EVs.
The battery is a lithium-ion unit mounted underneath the floor of the cabin with a storage density of 80kWh.
Obviously there's no fuel consumption but it does use energy at the rate of 21.4kWh/100km, according to the company.
Our test drive, which took us from the Melbourne CBD to Torquay at the start of the Great Ocean Road, saw a return of 27.8kWh/100km.
Mercedes says the EQC has a claimed maximum range of 434km, according to the ADR requirements. However, using the more accurate real-world WLTP test procedure the figure is 354km; which feels close to achievable based on our initial drive.
Recharging rates depend on what time of charger you plug into, with a standard home outlet providing 4.0km of range every 30 minutes. Using the Mercedes Wallbox charger the same timeframe will add 15km, while a 50kW DC charger can replenish 100km in half an hour.
If you can access a 110kW ultra-rapid charger 30 minutes of charging will get 220km of range.
In many respects it feels like Mercedes has tried to make the EQC accessible to those who have never driven an EV.
For starters the cabin layout is the same as most Mercedes-Benz's, specifically the GLC, with the gear selector on the steering column - rather than some clever button layout other EVs use.
In fact, much of the switchgear is shared with the GLC, which may feel like a safe choice but given the appeal of the internal combustion models, it makes sense to stick with a winning formula.
Obviously, once you start driving the almost silent nature of the electric motor is a shock to the system, but it soon becomes normal.
You're left feeling impressed by its performance, with so much torque and the single-speed transmission it feels ultra-smooth even as it builds speed so rapidly.
Mercedes claims the EQC will complete the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.1seconds, which may not be the fastest EV but it's certainly quick for something that can take four adults and their luggage in comfort.
Like all EVs the EQC relies on regenerative braking to help keep the battery topped up by harvesting energy when you decelerate.
That means you can drive largely using just the accelerator pedal as even lifting off will slow the car down. How much it slows by and how heavily it the regen brakes work depends on what setting you choose via the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
There are four settings - D for mild regen, D- makes it more noticeable, while D-- results in heavy deceleration, and finally there is D+ which actually reduces the regen forces and means it slows more like a regular car and requires more use of the brake pedal.
It all sounds complicated and for those who have never driven an EV it will take a little while to completely wrap your head around, but once you do, it feels second nature.
You do occasionally hear the odd mechanical groan or squeak, but it's perhaps the most refined and quietest EV this reviewer has driven to date.
Not that it's a perfect car. One area the EQC disappoints in is the ride, with Mercedes opting for a slightly unusual steel spring front suspension layout with air suspension at the rear.
The result is a busy ride that feels fussy and jiggly on country roads. The low speed urban ride is better, but it still lacks the refinement of a Mercedes equipped with air springs all around.
It also can't hide its weight (that comes from being a battery electric vehicle) and that takes a toll on the way it rides and handles. The battery itself weighs 652kg and despite being mounted as low as possible, that's still a lot of mass that can't be ignored.
The steering turns in nicely but the weight of the battery makes it respond slower than a similar-sized GLC, dulling its dynamic edge. For most people though, that shouldn't be a deal-breaker because most of the time it's a comfortable and enjoyable SUV to drive.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The EQC has not only earned a five-star rating from ANCAP, it also received the equal highest-ever score child occupant protection of any car tested by ANCAP; something for parents to keep in mind.
Not only is the passive protection good it also gets a full suite of active safety features as part of the 'Mercedes Driver Assistance Package.' In fact, it has so many features Mercedes admits it's ahead of the flagship S-Class.
The package includes auto emergency braking, active lane keeping assist, active brake assist, active cruise control, active blind spot detection, active parking assist, attention assist and multi-beam LED headlights.
It's not just the occupants Mercedes has thought about, the EQC also features an 'Acoustic Ambient Protection' system that emits a sound to warn pedestrians at speeds below 30km/h so they don't get surprised by the nearly silent electric motors.
Service intervals for the EQC are annual or every 25,000km, whichever comes first. Mercedes-Benz Australia offers owners the choice of buying a service package up front, or they can pay as they go.
Up front costs $1350 for the first three-years/75,000km, while if you pay each visit it's $450 the first and third year and $750 for the second service.
The warranty for the car is the standard Mercedes three-years/unlimited km but they do offer extended coverage for the battery - eight-years/160,000km.
As the world shifts towards electric vehicles the arrival of Mercedes-Benz, the inventor of the automobile, is a big moment. But unlike its rivals that have made bold and dramatic EVs that buck many conventions, Mercedes has opted to build a traditional car, dare I say, conservative SUV. And it's all the better for it.
Unlike the Tesla Model X, or even the Jaguar I-Pace, with is radical looks, the EQC takes what people know and love about luxury SUVs and swaps internal combustion power for electricity. This is perhaps the most approachable EV yet, with its understated styling, conventional but classy cabin and easy-to-use drivetrain. While it certainly isn't an EV for the masses with its $140K asking price, given the technology it offers and value added by the Chargefox subscription, it's a very competitively priced vehicle.
Even putting aside the electric powertrain, it's an impressive luxury SUV that's enjoyable to drive and looks and feels premium. But what else would you expect from Mercedes-Benz?
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
|EQC 400 4Matic||—, Electric, 1 SP AUTO||$116,400 – 147,180||2020 Mercedes-Benz EQ-Class 2020 EQC 400 4Matic Pricing and Specs|
|EQC 400 4Matic Electric ART Line||—, Electric, 1 SP AUTO||$124,000 – 156,750||2020 Mercedes-Benz EQ-Class 2020 EQC 400 4Matic Electric ART Line Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|
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