Mercedes-Benz unveils EQC SUV, the electric future for a storied brand

We’ve been hearing for years that the future is electric. Today, that future is looking closer than ever, with Mercedes-Benz taking the wraps off its first major foray into the world of full-electric cars, following on experiments like the Mercedes-AMG SLS Electric Drive. It’s called the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and it’s just the first of what’s being built up as an entire new brand: EQ.

We’ve seen EQ applied to the Smart side of things already, but with EQC, it finds a home in the nomenclature of Benz’s first full-production EV. EQC is a crossover SUV, offering all-wheel drive provided by a pair of electric motors. One sits at the front and a second at the rear, similar to the layout seen on other AWD EVs such as the Tesla Model X.

Interestingly, though, Mercedes says that each of the two motors serve different purposes. The front is said to be “optimized for best possible efficiency,” enabling greater range, while the motor at the rear “adds sportiness.” It’s unclear whether this is provided by differences in gearing between the two motors or indeed different motor construction. Regardless, the result is healthy numbers: 402 horsepower and 564 pound-feet of torque.

However, when talking about EVs there’s another number that must be considered: range. Here the EQC’s estimated 200 miles from its 80 kilowatt-hour pack sounds light compared to the competition. That’s well below the maximum 295 miles offered by the Tesla Model X and the 250 miles from Jaguar’s I-Pace SUV.

The design of the EQC, however, is vastly different than either of those two. It’s far cleaner than the Tesla and decidedly less funky than the Jag. The sides and rear of the SUV are clean and simple, while the nose is distinctly different than that seen on other, current Mercedes-Benz SUVs. It is, however, a clear continuation of the design language seen on many of the previous EQ concepts, including the Generation EQ concept from the 2016 Paris Auto Show.

Robert Lesnik, exterior designer for EQC, said the nose styling is as it is “because the car needs a face.” He said the EQC would look “unnatural” without some kind of grille, even though one isn’t strictly needed for cooling. This, then, becomes the latest of many faces in the current Mercedes lineup, joining the Maybach, Panamericana, luxury and sport grilles.

The EQC’s dashboard is familiar, but littered with new details like circuitboard-inspired copper vents.

Daimler AG

On the interior is an evolution of the dashboard layout seen on the latest iterations of the S-Class, E-Class and A-Class, with a wide, sweeping series of displays that dominate the dashboard. Copper-colored vents were inspired by circuit boards, while the fins on the outer edges of the dash ape those used to cool amplifiers. Rather than a traditional leather pattern, the materials are stamped to look like modern sportswear, while various seating options will offer a selection of natural, synthetic and recycled materials.

In terms of overall size, the EQC is 4.7 meters long, which makes it just a hair longer than the GLC. Its profile, meanwhile, is meant to split the difference between the GLC’s tall, SUV shape and the GLE’s notchback. This, exterior designer Lesnik said, gives the practicality of an SUV plus the aerodynamic advantage of a lower roofline.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC still has a fair bit of time left in the oven, not coming to market in the US until 2020, which may mean hitting the road road after the Audi E-Tron and Porsche Taycan. Whether an early release is the key to long-range success remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that the EV landscape is finally getting interesting.

Editors’ note: Roadshow accepts multi-day vehicle loans from manufacturers in order to provide scored editorial reviews. All scored vehicle reviews are completed on our turf and on our terms. However, for this feature, the manufacturer covered travel costs. This is common in the auto industry, as it’s far more economical to ship journalists to cars than to ship cars to journalists.

The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial team are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.

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