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Mercedes EQC review: The Tesla-fighter from Benz is headed for Singapore

The Mercedes-Benz EQC may be driven by a battery, but its sales could be powered by a three-pointed star.

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Mercedes paid extra attention to insulating the cabin from noise, vibration, and harshness, and the result is that the car ghosts along with even less fuss than an S-Class.

BT_20190524_MERC24A_3790194.jpg
Mercedes paid extra attention to insulating the cabin from noise, vibration, and harshness, and the result is that the car ghosts along with even less fuss than an S-Class.

Oslo, Norway

WHO needs petrol? This is the EQC, the very first full-production electric vehicle (EV) from Mercedes-Benz.

The mid-sized, luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) will enter Singapore in early 2021 with two very closely matched rivals already entrenched: The Jaguar I-Pace, already on sale in Singapore, and the Audi E-Tron, which will be previewed in Singapore next week.

It's too early to tell how much it would cost, but at today's taxes and Certificate Of Entitlement prices, an EQC 400 4Matic would probably come with a price tag of around S$400,000.

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Mercedes appears unconcerned about being late to the party. If anything, it's confident that combining the allure of the three-pointed star with the benefits of electric drive will produce a winner.

Ola Kallenius, a board member of Mercedes's parent company Daimler, and its next chief executive, said at the EQC's launch that its appeal is simple: "What's the surprise? There isn't one. It's a real Mercedes, an EV which fulfils the brand promise."

Singaporeans are more used to that promise being fulfilled by cars like the S-Class, an elegant limousine that makes a driver feel like he's "made it" - with the sort of grand appearance to make sure others know it, too.

Unsurprisingly, Mercedes seems to have worked hard to make the EQC look like, well, a Mercedes. But the switch to pure electric drive called for a serious flex of engineering muscle under the skin.

It's based on the GLC, a strong selling SUV here, so there is a certain familial resemblance, though the EQC plays up its tech edge with blue highlights and "EQC" badges in a unique font. To trump the most current SUVs, it incorporates a fashionable light bar not only on the tail, but on the nose, as well.

Two 10.25-inch displays make up the cabin centrepiece, one replacing conventional instruments and the other serving as the infotainment display, controlled via touchscreen, touchpad, steering wheel buttons, or a voice assistant.

There are also trim elements reminiscent of cooling fins and copper-coloured air vents to remind you that the EQC is the first of its kind, but you would need to be particularly distracted not to have noticed, anyway. The utterly silent startup and complete absence of vibration and engine noise while moving are dead giveaways.

That is the new default experience with cars that don't derive motive force from thousands of tiny explosions, but the EQC takes EV refinement to a new level.

Since it's a brand hallmark, Mercedes paid extra attention to insulating the cabin from noise, vibration, and harshness, and the result is that the car ghosts along with even less fuss than an S-Class.

There is absolutely no noise from the drivetrain, not even the train-like whine that some EVs make when the car is slowing down and recuperating energy for the battery, and the car's air suspension is also terrific at soaking up discomfort from bumps.

Like other luxury EVs, the potential big downside is weight. At roughly 2.5 tonnes, the EQC is even heavier than an S-Class limousine, yet if driven in a stately, restrained fashion, this never becomes apparent to the driver.

The twin electric motors' generous 408 horsepower and huge 760 Newton-metres of torque simply whisk away the inertia, and because of the minimal engine and wind noise, highway and town driving feel almost the same.

There is a playful side to the EQC, found in its relatively nimble handling (thanks to having its biggest mass, the battery, mounted low in the floor) and the effortless electric thrust, but push too hard and physics eventually does remind you of all that weight.

It's obvious you're supposed to drive this electric car like an angel rather than assault the batteries, and Mercedes has even made the former automatic: There's a "D Auto" mode that optimises the motor's power delivery and energy recuperation system depending on your route, the traffic, and other factors.

Our test drive route, which totalled almost 200km, showed the car will deliver at least 250km even when assaulting the 80 kilowatt-hour battery, and 400km is achievable with a conscientious right foot.

It's too early to tell what the exact ownership experience will be like in Singapore, but home charge times should be around 11 hours with a 7.2kW wallbox, and the EQC is compatible with direct-current fast-charging that is available at SP Group power stations here.

Jaguar and Tesla have each sold a handful of their own electric SUVs here, but only the EQC will allow a diehard Mercedes owner to do their bit for the climate.

Mercedes-Benz may have invented the automobile, but its first EV is something that wouldn't shock traditional fans. That's something to be admired in a car powered by electricity.


Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4Matic

Electric Motor 408hp, 760Nm
Battery Lithium ion, 80kWh
Charge Time / Type 11 hours / 7.2kW Wallbox
Electric Range 458km (average)
0-100km/h 5.1 seconds
Top Speed 180km/h (limited)
Efficiency 17.1 kWh/100km
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Price To be announced
Available First half of 2021