Up until now, Mercedes’ forays into the world of electric cars have constituted a very rare SLS AMG and a very niche B-class. No longer. This is the Mercedes EQ C, the launch star of the company’s all-electric EQ sub-brand. Looks reasonably close to the EQ concept, don’t you think?
Under its svelte, slightly Range Rover Velar SUV proportions, the EQ C uses a familiar tactic in electric car construction. The 80kWh lithium-ion battery, weighing some 650kg (a quarter of the car’s entire 2.4-ton mass) lives beneath the floor, keeping the center of gravity low and improving crash safety. The EQ C’s front electric motor aims to offer the most efficiency, while the rear motor—this is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, like the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X—is optimized for more punch.
Maximum combined power output is 400hp, while torque is a predictably titanic 765Nm.
In old money—which seems somehow inappropriate for such a modern car—that’s 564lb ft. More than a C63’s V8 offers up, delivered silently. As a result, Mercedes is claiming 0-100kph in a hot-hatch-spec 5.1 seconds, and a modest top speed of 179kph. While v-max is unimportant, range obviously is.
So, in addition to Comfort, Eco and Sport driving modes, you’ll find a Max Range setting in the EQ C. Deploy that and Mercedes claims you’ll travel 450km. However, that’s calculated on the old NEDC test cycle, not the new WLTP regulations, so expect a real-world figure somewhere around the 400km mark. Next up in the EV checklist: charging. Mercedes has fitted a 7.4kW on-board, water-cooled charger.
However, there’s a bespoke Mercedes Wallbox which can juice the EQ C three times faster than a domestic plug. Mercedes says it expects DC charging to offer a 10-80% charge (EVs rarely go lower, and are equally rarely charged up to full) in 40 minutes. Best get lobbying for healthier snacks at your local expressway gas station…
On the outside, the EQ C doesn’t do the arch-modern scary eco-car thing. Mercedes doesn’t want to alienate the traditionalists. It’s got a flush light bar front and rear, and blue highlights, but it manages to look contemporary without dating like a sci-fi prop, we’d wager. Inside, it’s a similar story. Big screens (albeit reconfigured to show EV-relevant data, not revs and fuel level), and subtle copper detailing in the vents. Because copper, wires, electric… you get the point.
Looks more luxe than a Tesla’s screen-dominated cockpit, we reckon—but is it too conservative for a machine supposed to introduce a whole new brand? The tech has also been rethought for its EV application. The nav takes into account which en-route chargers will get the job done faster. The climate control is optimized for pre-conditioning, easing battery strain when a quick demist is needed.
None of these are strictly ultra-new ground-breaking ideas, but it’s very often the subtle, real-world tricks that make the biggest difference to everyday life. And will win the war against the likes of the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-Tron…
Detailing all the semi-autonomous safely systems present would take more pixels than there are in the internet so, suffice it to say, the EQ C can be outfitted with everything that makes an S-class look after its occupants both during a expressway cruise/city commute/traffic jam and in the event of an accident in those environments, and more besides.
Production kicks off in 2019, complete with Mercedes-own brand batteries on board, which should alleviate any so-called ‘production hell’ if the pre-order website goes into meltdown.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.