ON THE GRID

Meet the irst of Merc’s new all-elec­tric pro­duc­tion cars, the EQ C, ready to bat­tle Jaguar’s i-Pace in 2019

CAR (UK) - - Preview Radical Evs - Words Jake Groves

IF THE Sil­ver Ar­row is the Bladerun­ner-style, sky­scraper-high neon sign im­plor­ing us to take a look at Mercedes’ elec­tric fu­ture, the pro­duc­tion-ready EQ C you see here is the open­ing act of the show it­self. Next year it will join the Jaguar i-Pace, Tesla Model X and Audi e-Tron SUV in a bat­tle for zero-emis­sions cross­over dom­i­nance, with the BMW iX3 not far be­hind – and other elec­tric Mercs to fol­low.

It started life as the Con­cept EQ, first seen at the 2016 Paris mo­tor show, but the pro­duc­tion EQ C is con­sid­er­ably closer vis­ually to the cur­rent GLC. Most of the show car’s blue glow has gone from the nose, re­placed by a U-shaped black panel that houses the blue-streaked head­lights, wrap­ping around a showy grille. Blue de­tails in the al­loys, a sin­gle rear light unit and no ex­haust tailpipe are your only other ex­te­rior clues that this cross­over is pure plug-in EV.

WHAT’S UN­DER THE SKIN?

There’s an 80kWh lithium-ion bat­tery pack, weigh­ing in at 650kg, wired to two elec­tric mo­tors – one for the front and one for the rear axle for all-elec­tric all-wheel drive – giv­ing a range around 280 miles. Mercedes says there’s 300kW (402bhp) on tap and 564lb ft of torque, with the 0-62mph sprint done with in 5.1sec – just 0.2sec slower than the AMG GLC43 – and a top speed of 112mph (lim­ited). That’s not

quite as punchy as the i-Pace, but the EQ C is longer and some 300kg heav­ier. The bat­ter­ies don’t com­pro­mise the pack­ag­ing; like a reg­u­lar SUV, it has a 500-litre boot. And it can tow up to 1800kg.

The EQ C comes equipped for slow charg­ing from a do­mes­tic or work­place wall­box and mid-jour­ney fast charg­ing to take the bat­tery from 10 to 80 per cent full in 40 min­utes. To ease range anx­i­ety, the sat-nav plans routes tak­ing into ac­count charg­ing sta­tion avail­abil­ity.

WHAT’S DIF­FER­ENT IN­SIDE?

Most of the cock­pit is fa­mil­iar: but­ton-laden wheel from the facelifted C-Class, pi­ano-black cen­tre con­sole with touch­pad con­trols from the new A-Class and a twin-screen info dis­play shared with al­most ev­ery high-spec 2018 Merc. It’s the de­tails that count – most promi­nently the rose-gold air vents and a yacht-like band wrapped around the dash­board.

WHAT’S NEXT TO WEAR AN EQ BADGE? Mercedes has promised 10 all-elec­tric mod­els by 2022, so we’re ex­pect­ing to see an EQ A cross­over (an elec­tric GLA) and chunkier EQ B from 2020, us­ing a 60kWh bat­tery pack for around 300 miles of range. Also in 2020 or 2021 we should see EQ E and EQ S saloons and SUVs join­ing the range.

Same but dier­ent Fa­mil­iar GLC shape blends with be­spoke black pan­elling on the nose, sin­gle light bar at the rear and lecks of blue in the head­lights and on the al­loy wheels. Merc says sil­hou­ette is half GLC, half GLC coupe. ‘EQ C 400’ badg­ing hints at fu­ture vari­ants with diŠer­ent power out­puts, just like the i-Pace. Clever cock­pit Fa­mil­iar Merc dash gains new de­tails in­clud­ing rose-gold air vents and lou­vredscreen hous­ing. En­ergy man­age­ment 80kWh bat­tery pack and twin elec­tric mo­tors are good for 402bhp, 564lb ft and 0 62mph in 5.1sec. Two of the ive driv­ing modes – Eco and Max Range – give feed­back via the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal that prompts the driver tocon­serve en­ergy.

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