Who’s ahead in the electric SUV battle? | Top Gear
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BBC TopGear

Who’s ahead in the electric SUV battle?

The new Mercedes EQ C tackles Tesla, Audi and beyond. Let’s crunch the numbers

  • The new Mercedes EQ C isn’t just a new electric SUV, but the beginning of a whole new EQ range of battery-powered Benzes. There’ll be hatchbacks and saloons soon, all carrying a three-pointed star and a plug socket. But they won’t have the market to themselves.

    Besides Tesla, and its three-model range of four-door EVs, Audi’s e-tron, Jaguar’s I-Pace and Porsche’s Taycan projects all herald the beginning of a new electric age of premium cars. Yep, a ‘beginning’. We didn’t say ‘spark’. Or ‘shock’. This is going to be a tired-pun-free zone.

    So, now there’s several contenders with definitive specs published, let’s take stock of the runners taking part in the new world order of posh EV face-offs. Got a favourite?

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  • Mercedes EQ C 400

    EQ, meet the world. World, meet EQ. Mercedes hopes these initials, meaning ‘Electric Intelligence’, will soon become shorthand for a premium-badged electric car. But is the play-it-safe styling and unimpressive range enough to kickstart a whole new sub-brand in a world of radical Silicon Valley newcomers?

    Price: £65,000 (est)

    Powertrain: 80kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, combined output 402bhp / 564lb ft

    0-62mph: 5.1secs

    Top speed: 110mph

    Range / recharge time: 249 miles (WLTP test) / 40min from 10-80 per cent on DC charging

    Standout tech: The EQ C’s sat nav will not only route you around traffic, but it’ll also take into account the fastest charging stations en route, so you’ll spend less time plugged in should you need the electric car equivalent of a splash’n’dash. Socket’n’rocket?

  • Jaguar I-Pace EV400

    Jag’s electric SUV/saloon futurepod starts at just under £64k – less when the UK government’s plug-in car grant is factored in. It’s probably the sweetest-driving EV on the market right now, and can see off the entry-level Tesla Model S in a straight line…

    Price: £63,495

    Powertrain: 90kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, combined output 394bhp / 513lb ft

    0-62mph: 4.5secs

    Top speed: 124mph

    Range / recharge time: 298 miles (WLTP test) / 40mins from 0-80 per cent on a rapid charger (not yet available in the UK)

    Standout tech: The I-Pace is pretty conventional, in fact. Little in the way of autonomous headlines and the usual below-par Jaguar Land Rover infotainment. It’s quite well packaged, though, with far more room on board for adults than the cramped XE saloon.

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  • Tesla Model X 75D

    Tesla has been the runaway market leader in the EV sector, blazing a trail where other marques fear to tread, but its build quality woes could cost it dearly, now the Germans are catching up.

    Price: £75,850

    Powertrain: 75kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, combined output 415bhp / n/a lb ft

    0-62mph: 4.9secs

    Top speed: 130mph

    Range / recharge time: 259 miles (NEDC test) / 30mins from 0-80 per cent (Supercharger network)

    Standout tech: Besides the Instagram-happy (but not very finger-friendly) Falcon doors, the Model X’s headline is of course its Autopilot driver aids. Thing is, not only is the system far from foolproof in our experience, but the enhanced version adds almost £8,000 the Tesla’s already lofty price.

  • Audi e-tron

    Price: £65,000 (approx)

    Powertrain: 95kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors, combined output 402bhp / 490lb ft

    0-62mph: less than 6.0secs

    Top speed: 124mph

    Range / recharge time: 248 miles (WLTP test) / 30mins from 0-100 per cent on 150kW rapid charger

    Standout tech: Audi says the e-tron’s rear-view cameras, which optionally replace the old-fashioned door mirrors, cut so much drag that the car’s range is longer without them. In fact, the e-tron’s fleet of aero-slipping features add a reputed 21 miles to its range.

  • BMW i3s

    Price: £36,980

    Powertrain: 33kWh lithium-ion battery, single electric motor, combined output 181bhp/ 195lb ft

    0-62mph: 6.9secs

    Top speed: 100mph

    Range / recharge time: 174 miles (NEDC test) / 0-80 per cent in 40 mins (via 50kW DC rapid charger)

    Standout tech: The i3’s signature is still its exotic construction, featuring a carbon safety cell with coach doors, atop an aluminium subframe. This is still, four years on from its debut, the most futuristic BMW interior too.

  • Porsche Taycan

    Price: £70,000 (est)

    Powertrain: lithium-ion battery back , two electric motors, combined output 592bhp / n/a lb ft

    0-62mph: less than 3.5secs

    Top speed: n/a

    Range / recharge time: 310 miles (NEDC) / 15mins from 0-80 per cent via 800V rapid-charger

    Standout tech: The charging times of the Taycan are unprecedented. If Porsche can get its 400 chargers installed across Europe by 2020 – as promised – and kick on from there, this will be a major rival to the Tesla Model S and its widely proliferated Supercharger network.

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  • Hyundai Kona EV

    Yes, a Hyundai. No, it’s not got a premium badge. And no, it’s not as roomy as the other cars mentioned here, save for the i3. But, as Paul Horrell ably explains, it might well be more fit for purpose than all the long-range, posh-badged EVs put together…

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