Mercedes EQC long-term test: report 1

The Mercedes EQC is the brand's first mainstream all-electric car. Can it eclipse the rival Audi E-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X? We've got six months to find out...

Mercedes EQC in town

The car Mercedes EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line Premium Plus Run by Jim Holder, Editorial Director

Why it’s here We want to discover if Mercedes' first mainstream EV is a match for the opposition, worthy of a near-£80,000 price tag and fits into everyday life.

Needs to Deliver a wow factor befitting its price, without any limitations resulting from its mode of propulsion that compromise its everyday usability.

Miles covered 569 Price £74,610 Target Price £74,610 Price as tested £77,200 Official range 232 miles Test range 206 miles Options fitted Driving Assistance Pack (£1695); Designo Hyacinth Red Metallic Paint (£895)

25 September 2020 – All-electric Mercedes EQC joins our fleet

Amazing to think how far Mercedes has come in recent years, isn’t it? Once – and largely still – beloved by older generations, it has  managed to broaden its appeal to a wider audience, chiefly through design razzmatazz and making the entry-level Mercedes A-Class so desirable and affordable.

Here, though, is a Mercedes not just for all ages, but also future generations – or at least so the marque will have you believe. This Mercedes EQC – based significantly on the Mercedes GLC – is the firm’s first electric car and few could argue that it has a next-gen appeal thanks to its oversized wheels, huge front badge and headlight treatments that pop like a disco when you press the start button.

Most pertinently, it promises 232 miles of electric range on a full battery, and can be charged at up to 110kW if you can find a suitably fast charger (the network is expanding rapidly). If you can, you'll go from a 10% to an 80% charge in an impressive 40 minutes, this rapid charging capability greatly increasing the versatility of the car for longer-distance driving.

Mercedes EQC LT interior driving

As you might imagine, given the near-£80,000 price tag, the EQC is also impeccably trimmed and loaded with kit. Most striking is the huge central digital dash and instrument cluster, plus a head-up display. Typically I worry about cars that do away with functional buttons to hide controls behind touchscreens, but I’m willing to give this one more time, thanks to its additional voice control capability. The theory is that you can do anything so long as you preface it with a cheery, ‘Hey Mercedes’ – if it works, it will be transformative.

But, easy though it is to be swayed by so much bling and the promise of eco-triumph, there are also some concerns that will need addressing during our six-months with the car. For starters, there is already a concern that my driving style is taking 5-10% off the theoretical battery range. No problem for my London commutes, but a concern for longer trips. Related, too, are concerns around the suitability of a now 2.5-tonne car as largely city-based family transport. It is what it is for good reasons – you can’t add range without adding weight – but there’s no question there’s a lot of inbuilt inertia here.

There’s also an increasing amount of competition to measure it against, led by the Audi Q8 e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X. At last year’s What Car? Awards the Jaguar and Audi both won their price points, with about £7000 separating our ideal specs, but in truth both are very clear rivals to the Mercedes. The Tesla is likewise and, although it has been shaded in our testers’ affections, it will be worth bearing in mind the quality and coverage of the charging network I encounter, because that remains an area where Tesla, with its own set-up of chargers, is ahead of the game.

Mercedes EQC charging

To some extent Mercedes is trying to counter that by supplying a Mercedes me Charge card with the car. This credit card sized piece of plastic swipes to gives three-years of free access to 300,000 charging points across Europe, all programmed into the car’s sat-nav so they are easy to find. Additionally, you can upgrade and get six months of free access to the Polar Plus network, which is both large and a leader in progressively installing faster chargers. If it delivers, it will go a long way to removing the irritation of having to sign up to multiple apps in order to get charges from the UK’s disparate network.

The potential convenience of that card is also supplemented by the Mercedes me app that downloads to your phone, allowing you to do everything from check your range to lock the boot, or pre-warm or cool the car or even check when your next service is due (or even if you need a top-up of washer fluid). Some of this may sound a touch gimmicky, but as winter draws close, the draw of a pre-warmed seat is quite alluring, especially if you can do it while the car is still plugged in so that you don’t waste any power.

Sounds like a pretty good first take on modern luxury motoring, doesn’t it? Let’s see how it pans out over the next six months with the Mercedes EQC.

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