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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz EQB review

£52,745 - £62,755
610
Published: 04 Apr 2024
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There aren’t many other ways into a new seven-seat EV. The EQB has a USP and runs nicely with it

Good stuff

One of the few seven-seat EVs, doesn’t have the image problem of an MPV

Bad stuff

Wallowy to drive, not exactly cheap for a family runabout

Overview

What is it?

If you want – nay, need – an electric car with seven seats, your options have so far been pretty limited. And rather expensive. A Tesla Model X is a bold statement, or it was until they stopped doing a RHD one; the Mercedes-Benz EQV is a big old electric people carrier that is – and there’s no way to soften this – a £70k-plus van.

Now of course you’ve got the long-wheelbase version of the VW ID. Buzz to consider as well, and - do not adjust your sets - the prospect of a £65k-and-up Kia EV9, which this thing undercuts. Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more.

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Oh, and back onto the subject of vans, you’ve also got the option of the Citroen e-SpaceTourer, Peugeot e-Traveller, and Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life siblings, or the similarly boxy Peugeot e-Rifter, Citroen e-Berlingo or Vauxhall Combo-e Life. Practical yes, but not much glamour there.

So the Mercedes-Benz EQB is something (for now, at least) fairly unique. It’s an electric seven-seater that looks more like a conventional crossover and starts at a vaguely palatable price. Strong emphasis on ‘vaguely’. Though in the world of premium EVs, these things are all relative: the entry point is still £53k.

And what does that get me?

If you’ve revised your Mercedes range algebra then you’ll have worked out that this is a fully electric version of the GLB soft-roader. Which in turn is a mash-up of the GLA crossover and B-Class blobby hatchback. All of which are based upon the same architecture as the A-Class. In short, its core is borrowed from the cheapest Benz on sale.

As of a mid-life update, the EQB now comes in three flavours: the new, entry-level 250+ enters the fray with front-wheel drive and a new 70.5kWh battery for up to 320 miles of range. It’s good for 188bhp and 0-62mph in just under nine seconds.

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Two other EQBs - the 300 and 350 - both run a pair of electric motors for all-wheel drive and up to 288bhp, but use a slightly smaller 66.5kWh battery and so offer less range. Expect something south of 200 miles for those in the real world of ferrying children around with the heating on.

Charging isn’t the quickest available by any stretch, topping out at 100kW, though Mercedes tells us you can zip from 10 to 80 per cent in a touch over half an hour. Juicing up from empty to 100 per cent from a typical home charging unit will be an overnight job.

What’s going on inside?

In Britain, we only get the EQB with seven seats – with three in the middle row and two smaller ones out back – while European buyers have a five-seat option. Lucky them.

It operates just like any other little Merc, with Park, Drive and Reverse selected from a stalk on the right hand of the steering wheel. The main difference, besides the whoomph of zero-rev torque from a standstill, is the fact you’ve three levels of brake regen to choose from via paddles on the steering wheel.

There’s a bunch of driving modes too: they cycle through Eco, Comfort and Sport to fiddle with powertrain response and – if you’ve ticked the right boxes – suspension softness. But c’mon, this is a plug-in family car. You want everything in its simplest and softest form, for the alternative involves nuking your range figure or jiggling mushed-up Freddos out of the kids.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

If you just can't wait to ferry your kids around in smug, efficient silence, it's a safe bet

The EQB does a lot right. It was the first relatively attainable electric seven-seater to hit the mainstream that wasn’t a Stellantis van, and since its launch in 2021 little else has dared set up camp nearby. It goes briskly, is simple to operate and charges reasonably quickly. Those sold on screen inches will pore over the interior, though Merc’s general trend away from physical controls often keeps us up at night.

How much longer can the EQB hang onto its USP? As soon as cheaper EVs with a similar seat count show up on the market, the Merc might start to look a bit pricey and try-hard. But we’ve been waiting a while now, and the fact that the Merc is now the budget option versus a big, boxy Kia speaks volumes. Baffling really, isn’t it?

If you just can't wait any longer to ferry your kids around in smug, efficient silence, it's a safe bet. Much as we prefer the GLB to the GLA, the more practical sibling of the EQA is more obviously appealing too.

The Rivals

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