New Mercedes EQC vs Jaguar I-Pace
As Mercedes’ first dedicated electric car and a luxury SUV, the EQC goes toe-to-toe with the Jaguar I-Pace. Let’s see which one comes out on top...
Jaguar I-Pace EV400 HSE
- List price £74,995*
- Target Price £74,995* (*Before £3500 government grant)
The electric luxury SUV to beat, with an impressive range and a plush interior.
Mercedes EQC 400 4Matic AMG Line Premium Plus
- List price £74,610*
- Target Price £74,610* (*Before £3500 government grant)
The EQC is a little late to the EV game, but that could mean it’s about to move the game on.
How have we gone from G-Wiz to great almost without noticing? We’re talking about electric vehicles (EVs), and for those who don’t know it, the G-Wiz was an Indian-built, squeaky little shoebox with batteries. The pious people who drove them in the noughties claimed that doing so would save the planet, yet its range was so feeble that it could barely save you from a walk back from the shops.
As if by stealth, though, we’ve arrived at highly credible EVs, such as the Jaguar I-Pace. Hurrah. But now the pace of change has ramped up to such a dizzying degree that only two months ago it was beaten, in entry-level form, by the even newer (and cheaper) Tesla Model 3.
There are a couple of reasons why the I-Pace is back. First of all, it’s joint second on our Real Range leader board, covering an admirable 253 miles on a single charge in the real world. And second, it’s still the electric luxury SUV to beat, impressing us more overall than the Audi E-tron and Tesla Model X, so it’s the ideal candidate to go up against the latest car to join those ranks: the all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC. Both are being tested here in top-spec form, and give or take a few quid, they’re the same price.
Like its rival, the EQC comes with an electric motor on each axle, giving it four-wheel drive when needed. Together, the motors produce a healthy 402bhp, compared with the I-Pace’s 394bhp. Its battery pack isn’t quite as big, though (80kWh versus 90kWh), and its official range falls short of the I-Pace’s by more than 30 miles.
So, does the fact that Mercedes has taken its time in joining the EV market mean we’re about to witness the yardstick being moved yet again?
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Let’s start with the important bit. No, not how fast they go, but how far. As we’ve already said, the I-Pace managed 253 miles in our Real Range test – which simulates a mix of town, country and motorway driving – but the EQC’s smaller battery means it runs out of juice at 208 miles. That’s still a useful amount but, in today’s post-G-Wiz world, nothing particularly special.
Is it quicker, then? Well, if you haven’t tried an EV yet, you’ll be shouting “Gee whizz, that’s mega” as the EQC pings off the line instantaneously, before striding from 0-60mph in 4.9sec. Yet the I-Pace is even quicker. Its nose lifts like a powerboat’s bow when you put your foot down, thanks to the kind of thrust that would make your gran go giddy. It’s astounding, especially when you consider that it weighs more than 2.2 tonnes.
The EQC weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes, though, and you can feel that heft when you corner hard. There’s a lot more body lean and the front tyres quickly break into chirrups as they cry ‘enough’ and the nose runs wide. When you’re not in a hurry, though, the EQC handles ably, steering deftly around town and accurately enough on faster, flowing roads.
By performance car standards, the I-Pace also feels hefty. Still, its handling is impressive, with quicker, more feelsome steering, more grip and better balance. This encourages you to throw the I-Pace into bends with more conviction, and when it starts pushing wide at the front, simply lifting off the accelerator causes it to tuck its nose faithfully back to the apex.
So, the I-Pace is more thrilling to drive, but does the EQC ride more comfortably? In some ways, it does. Around town, for instance, its softer springs offer more forgiveness over pernicious potholes than the firmer I-Pace. It’s also fairly settled on motorways, if not quite as steady as its rival, but along undulating roads it bounces around in a rather uncontrolled manner. It’s reminiscent of the Waltzer fairground ride: you’re continually moving not only up and down but also side to side. That narks you after a while.
The I-Pace isn’t perfect, swaying about more than a luxury saloon such as the BMW 5 Series, but it’s nowhere near as nauseating for passengers as the EQC. To be fair, our test car benefited from optional air suspension (£1100 and a feature you can’t get on the EQC), but it also had a faintly ridiculous 22in wheel upgrade (£500). We know from previous experience that, on smaller wheels, the I-Pace rides even more smoothly.
The EQC’s outstanding feature is, without a doubt, serenity; it’s unbelievably quiet. Its motors operate like they’re suspended in a vacuum, while there’s next to no tyre roar at 70mph and just a faint, unobtrusive flutter of wind noise. Even its brakes – often a problem on EVs, because of the need to harvest electricity to recharge the battery when you slow down – are predictable, 90% of the time. The only disturbance is some boom from its suspension over bumps.
The I-Pace’s brakes are grabbier, making it harder to come to a smooth stop, and while wind noise is no worse, there’s more noise from elsewhere. The enormous optional tyres generate a louder drone at higher speeds, while its motors whine more as you accelerate and decelerate – not enough to annoy, but you might find yourself humming the ethereal intro to Ghost Town, by the Specials, and wondering “Why has that popped into my head?”
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