First Look – 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC
The Three-Pointed Star’s First All-Electric Crossover to Take on Tesla
There’s no denying the seismic shift that Tesla wreaked on the automotive marketplace. As the first automaker to build electric vehicles that people actually lusted after, rather than resigned themselves to, Tesla arguably created a new segment: premium, luxury-oriented EVs.
As such, it’s impossible to look at the all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 without comparing it to the Tesla Model X. Like the Model X, the EQC is an all-electric crossover marketed toward a premium audience. Like the Model X, the EQC boasts an 80 percent charge time of 40 minutes. Like the Model X, the EQC has more than 400 hp (402, to be exact). And like the Model X, the EQC presents the driver and passengers with a tech-forward driving experience, thanks to MBUX infotainment and a digital instrument cluster.
That’s about where the similarities end, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Slated to appear in U.S. showrooms early in 2020, the Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 is the first model from the company’s new EQ sub-brand, which will eventually spawn a variety of machines. Based off its name, we presume the EQC 400 is based on the GLC-Class SUV, corroborated by their shared 113.1-inch wheelbase and similar width. The EQC, however, is 4.1 inches longer than the GLC (and 10.9 inches shorter than the Model X), giving it compact-plus proportions.
It wears its size well, with a long and lean roofline that frankly blows the Model X’s turtle shell design out of the water. A faux front grille wears the Mercedes star proudly, setting it against horizontal strips of chrome that are bookended by swept headlamps that wear blue-accented internals. The headlights and grille also feature an EQ-specific LED light signature, with a thin strip of illumination running horizontally across the entire front end.
Subtle bulges in the hood and lower doors comprise the entirety of the EQC’s body sculpting, giving it a graceful appearance, particularly in Benz’s hero-color silver. The full-width LED accent is repeated on the rear taillights. And lest you think this is any other Mercedes crossover, the EQC gets aerodynamic wheel designs with electric blue accents.
The interior design is as striking as the exterior is elegant, with a massive widescreen display spanning two thirds of the dash, serving as the infotainment display and primary instrumentation. MBUX infotainment offers natural speech recognition by dictating “Hey Mercedes,” economy-minded navigation guidance, and predictive features—if you drive to work every day at about the same time, MBUX will pre-load your route when you get in the car.
A low dash improves forward sightlines and reduces claustrophobia, and the driver-oriented screen binnacle features unusual and attractive louvered aluminum strips (a similar material is used on the doors and forward dash). Two different interior environments are available: Electric Art makes use of fashionable rose-gold highlights, while the AMG Line gets carbon trim.
Like the Tesla Model X and many other all-electric vehicles, the EQC incorporates most of its running gear in the floor. An 80kWh lithium-ion battery resides under the passenger compartment, powering an asynchronous motor on each axle. The combined output of these two motors is 402 hp and 564 lb-ft of torque, enabling an estimated range of about 200 miles. The energetic powertrain should enable a 0-60 time in the fours (Benz claims 4.9 seconds, but the company is famous for underestimating its vehicles).
To be fair, those numbers pale in comparison to the base Tesla Model X 75D, which boasts 518 hp combined, a rated range of 237 miles, and similar acceleration. The EQC comes out ahead of the BMW Concept iX3’s theoretical 270 hp, though BMW claims it should be able to go 250 miles per charge. Mercedes claims a 10 to 80 percent charge time of about 40 minutes when using a 110kW fast charger, roughly falling in line with other electric vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz EQC uses its twin electric motors to enable a variety of driving modes. The company says the front motor is primarily motivated by efficiency, while the rear motor comes alive when the driver demands a sportier drive. Both motors also act as alternators, providing regenerative braking to replenish the batteries and provide energy for auxiliary functions. Five different driving modes are available: Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport, and Individual. Their names suggest their functions, with Eco and Max Range helping maximize efficiency, while Sport and Comfort prioritize driving dynamics and a smooth ride, respectively. One of our favorite features of electric vehicles is one-pedal driving, something the EQC offers thanks to driver-selectable levels of regenerative braking.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but we doubt Mercedes-Benz’s first EQ-branded electric will come very cheap. For it to be successful, we think it would have to slot in cheaper than the Tesla Model X 75D, which starts at $79,500. Pricing that starts at $65,000 would probably be a safe bet, allowing Benz to undercut the similarly powerful Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV. The EQC 400 would also be a natural step up from the GLC 350e, a plug-in hybrid crossover that offers 21 miles of all-electric range as well as 320 hp and 413 lb-ft. In addition to the production BMW iX3, Tesla Model X, and Jaguar I-Pace, Benz counts the forthcoming Audi e-Tron crossover among the EQC's competition.
With more electric and hybrid vehicles on offer than ever before, it’s not surprising to see Mercedes-Benz jump into the mix with the 2020 EQC 400. But, disappointing estimated range aside, it is surprising that the company’s first mainstream effort would be so attractive and impressive. We look forward to slipping behind the wheel and driving Mercedes’ future soon.