Mercedes EQC long-term test
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 had six months to find out...
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 its 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
Mileage 3459 Price £74,610 Target Price £74,610 Price as tested £77,200 Test range 198 miles Dealer price now: £54,782 Private price now: £48,695 Trade-in price now: £51,084 Running costs: £85 for electricity.
27 May 2021 – A frustrated farewell
The trouble with assessing electric cars is that your emotions can swing wildly from one moment to another. During 3000 miles of travelling (mostly short hops, but sometimes longer trips over hundreds of miles), the Mercedes EQC has been the perfect companion. Any compromises over a combustion-engined car have been levelled out or usurped by upsides.
Then, on the eve of saying goodbye, I took a final journey in it to Stratford-upon-Avon on a dull day, and with a 210-mile round trip ahead, a full charge indicated that the car had just 205 miles of range. In truth, I wasn’t that bothered, having got used to charging up on the fly, but it turned into a frustrating episode that highlighted again the imperfections of the present system.
Trusting in the EQC’s sat-nav-based charger locator, as I had so often before, I fancied a go on a super-fast 150kW Shell charger, only to find that it wouldn’t connect. When I phoned the helpline, I discovered that was because the charger was broken so I set off for a Polar charger, supposedly in the town centre.
Alas, despite the sat-nav’s insistence that it was there, I couldn’t find it. After wasting half an hour, I found a PodPoint unit that – with much faffing – did connect, but delivered charge at only 3.7kW. Even with the handful of miles I needed (including some extra in case of traffic), it was taking an age to charge.
Of course, it was sortable. But I cursed the time I’d wasted, the time I should have put in to better planning, the charge providers for not doing better – and, yes, the EQC for not providing better information on what capability charge locations have, if they are working and precisely where they are.
Oh, and then there was the oddly-named Mercedes me Charge card. It supposedly gave me access to tens of thousands of chargers across the UK, and I paid a fee for it to use Polar chargers, but it never actually worked. Small things, and an over-reaction in the heat of the moment, but it was also an insight into the sometimes rollercoaster emotions of going electric.
Just as frustratingly, those emotions were completely at odds with the overwhelmingly positive experiences of the EQC over the previous nine months. It says a lot that during these tumultuous times the car was so good that I actually came to regard it as a sanctuary.
Driving it for even mundane school runs helped soothe my concerns and ground any worries. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the only cars I’ve known do that in the past have been uber-luxurious vehicles such as Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. While the EQC is not cheap at near £80,000, it sits far below the price points of those cars.
Crucial to that zen-like state was the EQC’s electric power, which was delivered silently, instantly – putting you in constant control – and smoothly. In town, that's a particularly absorbing combination, giving you the freedom to pop out of junctions sharply or cruise effortlessly. That positivity was also buoyed by the fact that the EQC was exceptionally well-rounded to drive, from its comforting ride to its deliberate steering. You would rarely call it thrilling, but it always smoothed the edges from any imperfections.
It helped, too, that sliding into the driver’s seat was both exciting and pampering. Bringing thrills was the vast dash screen that incorporated the infotainment controls and ran across to the driver’s vision to display the speed, range and more. While I remain a fan of buttons over controls hidden behind multiple menus, the EQC didn't let design triumph over functionality.
With familiarity, I found it achieved a fine balance between usability and usefulness. Even the voice control was effective. Neat design touches such as the copper-coloured air vents that invoked thoughts of electrical circuit boards added some lustre too, alongside the smartly-trimmed leather cabin, which had all the adjustments I could hope for.
Even when the height of winter lowered the EQC's indicated range closer to 180 miles, there was nothing about it that I didn’t relish, and judging by the correspondence I’ve enjoyed with many other owners they feel likewise. It is emphatically not just a car that fits into your life – it also has the capabilities to make it better.
It's also clear that there is much more to come from the electric revolution. A little more range would transform the proposition (I’d say 250 to 300 miles is ideal for all but the most committed tourer). We also need a lot more reliability from the charging networks and, above all, far better integration of the whole electric eco-system. But they will come, and for now the EQC is a fine example of why we should embrace this future.
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