2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC

Mercedes’ Tesla-fight­ing EQC has the goods to be an at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive to burn­ing gaso­line

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - FRONT PAGE - driv­ing.ca/pho­tos

STOCK­HOLM — Af­ter an­nounc­ing its new EQ (Elec­tric In­tel­li­gence) sub­brand at the 2016 Paris Mo­tor Show, Mercedes-Benz picked Stock­holm to launch the first of what it prom­ises will be an elec­tri­fy­ing lineup. It will in­clude ev­ery­thing from the Smart EQ to a full­size sedan and some sports cars; in all there will be 10 mod­els by 2022.

The world pre­miere of the EQC crossover ush­ers in a ride with an avant-garde de­sign that blends the look of a tra­di­tional SUV with that of a raked-roof crossover. It also has the elec­tric where­withal to get rid of range anx­i­ety.

Out­wardly, the look is dom­i­nated by the light­ing. The LED head­lights are linked by a thin light bar that traces the lead­ing edge of the hood, and Mercedes’ three-pointed star in the grille is il­lu­mi­nated. At the back, it is more of the same, with the LED tail lights be­ing linked by an­other thin light bar.

The cabin also turns away from what’s found in the EQC’s gas-pow­ered siblings. While it shares the two 10.25-inch screens for the in­stru­men­ta­tion and Mercedes-Benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence (MBUX) in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, it dif­fers in the fact it de­liv­ers in-depth de­tails on power con­sump­tion, range and driv­ing habits. The in­stru­men­ta­tion is con­fig­urable and changes colour ac­cord­ing to what’s hap­pen­ing, glow­ing red un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion and turn­ing ice blue when the sys­tem is re­coup­ing oth­er­wise wasted en­ergy.

Us­ing the EQ Ready app, the driver can mon­i­tor the charg­ing progress, pre­con­di­tion the cabin, and plan a trip. The app au­to­mat­i­cally in­cludes any nec­es­sary charg­ing stops, if re­quired to com­plete the drive.

The key to the EQC is the new mod­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture that houses the main bat­tery in a crash-pro­tected safety cell. The 80 kWh lithium-ion bat­tery con­sumes the en­tire floor, with the bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem re­sid­ing un­der the rear seat. The sub­stan­tial bat­tery — it tips the scales at 650 kilo­grams, which helps ex­plain the EQC’s 2,245kg curb weight — de­liv­ers, ac­cord­ing to Euro­pean num­bers, an im­pres­sive elec­tric driv­ing range of 450 kilo­me­tres.

It takes be­tween seven and eight hours to recharge the bat­tery from 10 per cent to full when us­ing a 220-volt out­let. That time drops to just 40 min­utes to recharge to 80 per cent when us­ing a DC fast charger. The bat­tery is war­ranted for eight years or 160,000 km (which­ever comes first), al­though Mercedes was em­phatic that this is a min­i­mum num­ber and most cus­tomers will see a much longer use­ful life.

Two asyn­chro­nous elec­tric mo­tors, one driv­ing each axle, give the EQC all-wheel drive. The front mo­tor is used to pro­vide max­i­mum ef­fi­ciency, while the rear keys on de­liv­er­ing a spir­ited drive. The com­bi­na­tion yields im­pres­sive per­for­mance num­bers. With both mo­tors giv­ing their all, the sys­tem has a net out­put of 402 horse­power and a mighty peak torque of 564 pound-feet, the ma­jor­ity of which shows up for work the in­stant the wheels be­gin to turn. This means the EQC sprints from rest to 100 km/h in 5.1 sec­onds, and it has a sub­stan­tial 1,800-kg tow­ing ca­pac­ity.

To get the best out of the EQC, it has five driv­ing pro­grams: Com­fort (the de­fault set­ting), Max-range, Eco, Sport and a pro­gram that al­lows the driver to set the op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters. In Com­fort, Max-range or Eco, the fo­cus is squarely on driv­ing dis­tance and power con­ser­va­tion. To help the driver get the best from the pow­er­train, Eco As­sist taps into the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and traf­fic-sign recog­ni­tion, and uses in­for­ma­tion from the radar and stereo cam­eras to prompt the driver to lift when­ever ap­pro­pri­ate, which helps to max­i­mize the driv­ing range. Sport mode is all about giv­ing the driver peak per­for­mance with­out em­pha­siz­ing driv­ing range — within rea­son. To help the over­all range, the driver can set the re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing level by us­ing steer­ing wheel-mounted pad­dle shifters and five set­tings. D Auto op­ti­mizes the re­gen­er­a­tion to get the best out of the driv­ing con­di­tions. Then there are D+, which has very lit­tle re­gen, through D, D- and fi­nally D—, which gives the EQC one-pedal driv­ing.

The EQC rides on a dou­ble-wish­bone front and multi-link rear sus­pen­sion with air springs, which gives it au­to­matic load lev­el­ling. The show model had P235/50R20 front and P255/45R20 rear tires, al­though base mod­els will have 19-inch wheels.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC prom­ises to de­liver a bal­anced ap­proach to sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity; it should to be fun to drive while de­liv­er­ing a gen­er­ous driv­ing range. As such, it is set to be­come an at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive to burn­ing gaso­line. It will go into pro­duc­tion in 2019, with the first Cana­dian units ar­riv­ing in early 2020. Pric­ing and full spec­i­fi­ca­tions will be an­nounced closer to the launch date.

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC.

GRAEME FLETCHER/DRIV­ING

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