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The Top Gear car review:Mercedes-Benz EQC
For:Super-refined, comfy, smooth and safe. Good bundled charging and payment apps
Against:Doesn't take advantage of EV design and packaging opportunities. Feels its weight
What is it?
If you’ve ever been in one of Mercedes many SUVs, the EQC will feel very like them, except with silent electric power. Because that’s what it is. For its first mainstream EV, Mercedes hasn’t reinvented the car. It has simply electrified a car. Specifically, the GLC.
Take out the combustion engine, exhaust and fuel tank, and the transmission. Insert two drive motors, one in front and one behind, and an underfloor battery. That’s the basic concept anyway, but of course thousands of details have changed, and there’s a new visual skin for the exterior and interior.
This means that both outside and inside, the EQC has very similar proportions to the GLC. It doesn’t have a spacey cab-forward design or a lightweight aluminium bodyshell. You don’t have to get used to it, and you won’t look like you’re driving around in a science experiment.
It might seem timid for Mercedes to have adapted an existing platform rather than scratch-build a new one, but at least they have sweated the details on the body, motors, thermal systems and electronics. The aims – successfully met in our first experience – were silence, efficiency and safety.
Among the first wave of posh electric crossovers, it’s quite small. The Jaguar I-Pace is similar in footprint but has a significantly longer wheelbase to improve cabin room. The Audi e-tron is bigger, and the Tesla Model X far bigger. And yet the Mercedes is the heaviest of the lot, at two-and-a-half tonnes.
Here’s why. The EQC has the same suspension and most of the underbody as the GLC. To make sure it behaves in the same protective way in a crash, it even has steel-tube replicas of the combustion car’s engine block and gearbox housing, except here they mostly enclose fresh air rather than pistons and gears. So you don’t get the airy cabin or flat floor of a Tesla or Jaguar.
The EQC’s chief engineer gladly admits that because it’s thus adapted, it’s 150kg heavier than it would be if entirely bespoke. He claims weight doesn’t greatly affect range because you can regenerate more from a heavy car – here it’s up to 240bhp feeding back to the battery. Instead, what matters is low drag, down to Cd 0.28.
Just as well, since the battery doesn’t have a huge capacity, at 80kWh gross. Mercedes are absolutely the safety people, so they’ve made the EQC’s battery narrower than rivals. It doesn’t spread right out to the sills but instead has about 10cm of extra impact-absorbing structure either side. The range is 231 to 259 miles WLTP, depending on wheels (some low-drag ones are available) and running boards (which actually improve matters).