What Car? says...
The Mercedes EQC wasn't the first electric car to wear the three-pointed star – that was the A-Class E-Cell – but it was the German brand’s first electric vehicle with no matching petrol or diesel version.
In fact, you could say the EQC paved the way for many of the electrified Mercedes models with EQ in their names that followed. Even so, as the line-up has grown, it has held on to its position as the mid-sized electric SUV in the range.
Of course, during the EQ sub-brand’s period of expansion, rival car makers haven’t been twiddling their thumbs. Oh no, the Mercedes EQC now occupies a place in an increasingly competitive market.
If it wants to be successful, it will have to go head-to-head with rivals including the Audi Q8 e-tron, the BMW iX3 and the Jaguar I-Pace. Or, if you’re not wedded to the idea of an SUV, the Audi e-tron GT and the Porsche Taycan are not a million miles away when it comes to price.
In other words, you have a lot of choice when it comes to picking a luxury electric car. There’s no head-scratching when it comes to choosing an ‘engine’ for your EQC, though. The twin electric motors deliver more power (402bhp to be exact) than any Mercedes driver is ever likely to want – with the possible exception of Lewis Hamilton.
So, how does the Mercedes EQC square up against the competition in other key areas, such as electric range, practicality, ride comfort and safety? Read on over the next few pages of this review to find out.
And if you decide to buy any new car, make sure you check how much you could save on the list price of your chosen make and model by heading over to the What Car? New Car Deals pages. They list plenty of the best new electric car deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Before we start going into detail about how comfortable the EQC is and how competently it goes round corners, you probably want to know how many miles it can do between charges. Well, according to Mercedes it should be capable of travelling up to 254 miles before it conks out.
By current standards, that's not particularly impressive: the Audi Q8 e-tron and the BMW iX3 have official ranges of up to 283 miles, the Jaguar I-Pace up to 292 miles and the Tesla Model Y Long Range more than 330 miles.
You certainly won’t have any complaints about the EQC's acceleration though, because it can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 5.1 seconds. That makes it faster than most hot hatchbacks and, more to the point, the Q8 e-tron and the iX3. The I-Pace and Model Y are even quicker, but you'd have to be a real speed freak to care.
Indeed, you’re probably far more likely to be concerned about ride comfort, which is something the EQC does well – up to a point. On the average motorway, the ride is mostly calm and comfortable. It takes the initial sting out of potholes because the set-up is quite soft and absorbent, but it doesn't deal with the aftershock very well.
The result is that, around town or on a country road, any unevenness causes it to pitch and wobble, which can get quite annoying. The better-controlled iX3 and I-Pace (especially when fitted with standard 19in wheels) are better choices if ride quality is important to you.
However, the EQC is very quiet — more so than its main rivals. There's very little whine from the electric motors when you accelerate or decelerate, and just mild wind noise on a motorway. Road noise is a distant background murmur, and the suspension is the only irritation, as you can hear it boom away over bumps.
It's not a great choice if you like going round corners quickly, though. Unlike the iX3, which is remarkably agile for an electric SUV, and the Tesla Model 3, which is one of the best-handling electric cars, the EQC does not appreciate being hustled.
If you corner with any gusto or ask it to change direction quickly, it sways about before running out of front-end grip sooner than you might imagine. For normal driving, it's perfectly adequate. The steering is light, precise and well-suited to motoring around town, although it doesn’t give you a brilliant sense of connection with the front wheels during spirited driving.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The Mercedes EQC is a bit smaller than the Audi Q8 e-tron but, crucially, it still feels like a proper SUV when you’re sitting behind the wheel. That’s thanks in no small part to a driver’s seat that is mounted suitably far from the road.
The seat is electrically adjustable on all trim levels and there’s also adjustable lumbar support to help prevent backache on longer journeys. If you want a memory function – so you can automatically reposition everything so it's just the way you like it at the touch of a button – you’ll need to fork out for the top-spec Premium Plus trim.
The lofty driving position and relatively thin front pillars give you a good view of the road ahead, which is a big advantage over the Jaguar I-Pace (which is not the easiest car to see out of). While the EQC’s high haunches don’t do over-the-shoulder visibility any great favours, all trim levels come with a reversing camera and parking sensors at the front and rear. Things are made even easier when you go for Premium Plus trim, because it adds a 360-degree camera that can display a bird’s eye view of the car.
An appealing mix of gloss-black plastic, genuine leather seats and plenty of polished-metal highlights make the EQC look really upmarket inside. Build quality is generally pretty good – better than the Tesla Model Y – but isn’t quite on a par with the Q8 e-tron or BMW iX3. Some of the fixtures, including the centre air vents and their plastic surrounds, are wobbly and a bit of a let-down.
The infotainment system can be controlled either by prodding the 10.3in screen or by using a touchpad mounted between the front seats. The second method is easier and safer when you’re driving – you simply swipe left or right to scroll through the icons on the screen then press down to make a selection. There’s even haptic feedback, so you get vibrations to tell you your commands have been registered, although it’s a pity you need to pay extra for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring on AMG Line models (it comes as standard on AMG Line Premium and Premium Plus models, as does wireless phone-charging).
You get a Siri-style personal assistant as standard. To wake it up, you just say "Hey Mercedes". Then, in theory, you can use normal speech to control various aspects of the car, from the sat-nav to the interior temperature. It's fun to use and is often very useful, but like many voice-recognition tools, it occasionally misunderstands or fails to recognise what you've said.
Overall, the infotainment system is not as intuitive as the iX3’s iDrive system (with its simple rotary controller and snappy software), but we prefer it to the Q8 e-tron and I-Pace touchscreen-only systems.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You wouldn’t expect to have any issues with front space in a car as large as the Mercedes EQC, and the good news is you won’t – not unless you're very tall, anyway. Good-sized door pockets, a lidded cubby (with integrated cupholders) beneath the air-con controls and further stowage space under the central armrest make it great for family life too.
There's less rear leg and head room than in the rival Jaguar I-Pace but more width, so there's more breathing space for three people. We've only tried cars fitted with a sunroof, which reduces head room a little. There’s no doubt the Audi Q8 e-tron is altogether more accommodating for back-seat passengers.
The EQC has a 500-litre boot, which is smaller than in the Q8 e-tron, the BMW iX3 and the I-Pace. It’s quite shallow, but there is some underfloor storage space and the bulk of the load bay is a uniform shape, with useful extra width near the entrance.
There's no annoying lip to heave heavy items over and it’s really easy to fold down the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. You just flick a switch and the seatbacks drop of their own accord, leaving a completely flat extended load area.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The price of the Mercedes EQC looks quite high when compared with rivals, and it costs more in entry-level AMG Line trim than the Audi Q8 e-tron, the BMW iX3 and the Jaguar I-Pace to buy outright. All these electric SUVs make for seriously cheap company cars thanks to the tempting benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates available on all electric vehicles.
It's a little less efficient per mile than a I-Pace, but we're talking about a difference of about 1p per mile. In terms of charging speeds, a 10-100% charge will take roughly 11 hours using a 7kW home charger. A very fast 110kW CCS public charger should deliver a 10-80% top-up in as little as 40 minutes.
You get a three-year subscription to Mercedes Me Charge with the car. That gives you access to a multitude of public charging stations across Europe (their precise location and availability are shown on the infotainment system). Charging isn’t free, but a single contract covers all billing, so you won’t need to sign up to umpteen different providers.
At the time of writing, only the extensive Tesla Supercharger network gives you the ability to travel long distances with the peace of mind that there'll be a reliable fast charger nearby.
The EQC's entry-level AMG Line trim is our favourite as it comes with plenty of kit, including 20in alloys, climate control, keyless entry and heated front seats. Granted, you don’t get smartphone integration as standard, but it's a very reasonably priced option.
Stepping up to AMG Line Premium gets you larger 21in wheels, wireless phone-charging and an augmented reality function for the navigation. Range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus also gets some genuinely useful standard equipment such as a parking package, a head-up display and a memory package for the seats. It's too expensive to recommend, though.
When it comes to reliability, Mercedes claimed a fairly disappointing 23rd place out of the 32 manufacturers included in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. That’s above Jaguar, which was down in 26th, but below BMW in 16th and Audi in 21st.
Independent testing by Euro NCAP in 2019 found the EQC to be one of the safest premium electric cars and it scored the full five-star rating, outperforming the Q8 e-tron, the iX3 and the I-Pace for child occupant protection. All trim levels come with plenty of active aids to help prevent a crash in the first place, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.
The optional Driving Assistance Plus package, which is available on AMG Line trims, adds loads more safety aids including Pre-safe Plus, which can prime the safety aids if you’re about to be hit from behind and will alert when you’re approaching pedestrian crossings.
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Yes, the EQC is an electric SUV with 402bhp and a range of up to 254 miles.
AMG Line Premium gets more standard equipment, including smartphone connectivity, and larger 21in alloy wheels instead of 20in.
|RRP price range
|£64,950 - £81,225
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|Available doors options
|3 years / No mileage cap
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£130 / £162
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£260 / £325