Lately, things have been so messed up that it’s hard to know what is normal anymore. Stay in, go out, book and plan or bunker down and wait for things to blow over, it’s seriously a mystery to me (thanks Toyah). Anyway, the sea of change is evident (or is that prevalent) in the automotive world with EVs becoming more normal everyday, and although Mercedes-Benz has been conservative in their approach to this matter, last year I attended the launch of the impressively ‘normal’ EQC and last week Mercedes-Benz NZ gave me the keys again for a closer look.
With EVs being touted as ‘the future’ some car makers have taken this to heart and produced overly-complicated, overly-dramatic looking vehicles – not so with Mercedes. Aside from a special grille, new wheels, no exhausts and a full-width light bar front and rear, the EQC could be mistaken for their very popular GLC, it does sort of sit on the same platform after all.
Funny enough, despite its similarities, the EQC shares very little with its fossil-fueled sibling and what’s more there are around 99 components that come from renewable sources, so you can’t be sure where in fact they came from.
The other ‘normal’ part of the EQC 400 is how easy it is to get in and drive. For those of you that are familiar with the workings of a modern Mercedes, you’ll find that you’re on your way before you know what’s going on. The start button is where it normally is, the gear selection is on the stalk, the big infotainment/instrument cluster navigates the same way, there are thumb controls on the steering wheel and Mercedes Me is there for you to command and do your bidding. What’s more, the furniture is leather and the finishing is upmarket Merc. Like I said, it’s all pretty normal – but then again it’s not.
Rather than being petrol or diesel-powered, the EQC is driven by two electric motors, one on each axle. Combined they produce 300kW/760Nm and each has a particular raison d’être (not sure why I went french here but they each have their own purpose), The front motor takes care of your day to day running about, your normal functionality, while the rear handles performance, butting in when you put your foot down. The result is an economical performer (21.4kWh/100km) that’s great to drive yet doesn’t give you range anxiety (well over 400km).
Another EV quirk is the paddles. For much of the Mercedes range, paddles mean manual gearbox changes, giving you the control to change up and down when you so desire, however, the EQC has no gearbox, just instant torque and 5.1 seconds zero to 100km/h figures, but don’t think they are just decorative. In fact, just like its gearboxed siblings, the paddles do give you control, control over the regenerative braking. The more you apply the left (negative) paddle, the harder the EQC will slow and transform energy to ‘range’ when you lift off the accelerator, and vice versa for the right (positive) paddle. Pull twice on this paddle and the EQC seems to endlessly coast. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once mastered the results are very noticeable – actually displayed on the infotainment screen EQC menu.
Should you desire, the EQC menu gives you all manner of EV data to digest. From driving and efficiency stats to when to where the nearest place is to plug-in and re-charge (the SUV not you). It’s all very interesting for a while and then you just go back to enjoying the drive, and it is enjoyable.
Having a well-dispersed, low centre of gravity weight, the EQC performs well in the corners and sits nicely on the tarmac. The all-wheel-drive set up seems well balanced and offers plenty of confidence when driving spiritedly. I admit it’s not an AMG (although there’s probably a version in the pipeline) but there’s more than ample speed and performance ‘emitted’ from those motors.
The Mercedes-Benz NZ EQC 400 adapts into everyday family life with ease. There’s plenty of range for an average week of toil and tedium plus enough left over for a quick blitz to the beach and back. It’s remarkably normal and aside from the ‘copper’ effects in the air vents and the lack of sound in motion, it drives, rides and looks like a normal Merc and seriously, the way things are right now, the is a very welcomed new normal.