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Mercedes’ EQ alphabet continues to expand with the ‘quiet’ introduction of the all-electric B. I say quiet as it slipped into the NZ range without a lot of fanfare or even a local launch, but thankfully we were given the keys for a week to make our own assessment.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

Having driven the B-Class when it first came out, I have to say that I was impressed. As, despite its ‘smallest in the family’ A-Class underpinnings, I found it to be a compact yet incredibly versatile SUV that did in fact seat seven (even a 6ft something goalie in the 3rd row), so I was expecting big things. Joy of joys, the EQB didn’t disappoint, well sort of.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

You see, to my surprise my review model came as a five seater (the seven seats are an option) so my carry-all expectation of the EQB was slightly bruised, however, in return I did get around 50kg of weight saving and 495L of luggage space to play with – enough for numerous suitcases, a couple of buggies or plenty of shopping.

Outwardly, the EQB’s size and silhouette mimics its ICE based sibling, however, it does come with the Mercedes-EQ black panel grille with central star and a continuous horizontal fibre-optic light strip linking the DRLs. Also, the headlights themselves feature blue colour highlights to underline its Mercedes-EQness.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

My whip came in a sparkling Iridium Silver and rode on 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels (last seen on the EQA I reviewed). A chrome strip breaks up the black of the lower side protection panels and an EQ badge (also blue) sits on the front wings.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ
Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ
Big enough to fit a boat

The rear sports LED tail lamps that merge with a tapered LED light strip, emphasising the EQB’s width and the sculpted tailgate that opens to the previously mentioned 495L and it was all topped off with an automatic panoramic electric sunroof and a drag Cd value from 0.28.

The inside will be a familiar place for those that have driven a modern Merc and in particular the EQA. The instrument cluster and Infotainment screen are presented as one long panel that takes up almost half the width of the dash, while 5 jet engine style vents, funky back lit’ trim, chrome and contrast-stitched top completes the visage.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

The seats are highly-bolstered with an alcantara/leather-style finish and the ambient lighting that surrounds the cabin, offer up a multitude of colours, all there suit your mood.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

The info/instrument screens themselves are highly configurable and offer up virtually all the information you could ever want, the sounds are supplied by Burmester, system is the latest MBUX and there is also an EQ exclusive menu for you to find out how, where and how much the EQB’s energy is flowing. 

On the matter of energy, there are two EQB models up for grabs, the 250 that comes with a single FWD electric motor (140kW/385Nm) and 9,2 seconds 0-100km/h or the 350 that I had, with two motors (430kW/520Nm) and so 4Matic AWD and 6.2 seconds 0-100km/h. 

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

Both models come with a 66.5kWh battery that’s located way down low (with AC11kW/DC 100kW) charging behind a flap on the driver’s side rear), however, since the single motor consumes energy at a rate of 16.7kWh/100km (vs 18.8 for the 350), Merc say that the range for the 250 is 507km vs the 350’s 445km. As a point of note, my review model was registering 409km when I picked it up.  

What I really enjoy about Merc’s approach to electrification is just how simple it is. Those transitioning from ICE to EV can just get in push start, select drive on the column stalk and away you go. Everything is located as per the ICE version and therefore easy to understand. In fact, even the likes of drive modes just range from Eco to Sport so again, simple.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

However, should you wish to be brave and dabble with the settings, you are suitably rewarded. For example, switch to Eco and start using the ‘regen force’ paddles behind the sporty steering wheel and you start to gain range kms. Again, use the paddles to ‘motor brake’ in corners and anticipate the lights and even more km’s appear – it becomes quite a game – I guess I should get out more.

With its compact dimensions (length 4.7m, width1.8m, height 1.7m) there’s maybe the assumption that the EQB’s cabin will be cramped but much to the contrary, even with four adults on board, we didn’t seem to be rubbing shoulders or in each other’s faces. And again, with a loaded 2-tonne SUV, it still sprung off the line and up to the national speed limit with an enthusiastic pace.

On the matter of enthusiasm, the adjustable damping suspension and 4Matic system had me cornering with confidence and the huge list of driving and safety aids (from steering, braking and lane-keep assists to blind spot and traffic sign recognition) I knew that the EQB had my back should things get frisky.

Mercedes-EQ EQB review NZ

The addition of the EQB to Merc’s NZ electric fleet may have been done quietly but I feel that it’s really something you shout about. I would have preferred the 7-seater option (as that’s what I feel the B-class should be) but it offers up a ton of space, oodles of versatility and of course, zero emissions. Roll on the E!

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