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Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 2019 Road Test

The Mercedes-Benz EQC is an electric SUV that proves you no longer need to be an early-adopter to buy an EV. It's relaxing to drive, has a superb interior and is loaded with clever technology.

Its biggest issue is that it's not the first of its type. The Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X all do a very similar job for very similar money. But rather than simply being another take on the electric SUV, Mercedes-Benz sees it as the launch of its new EQ electric car sub-brand. Sharing a platform with the GLC (albeit heavily modified), it’s essentially an electric SUV version of the C-Class.

While being unmistakably different to the petrol and diesel SUVs in Mercedes-Benz's range, it doesn't shout about its eco credentials in the same way as the head-turning Jaguar I-Pace, or the Audi e-tron with its trick digital door mirrors. We think it looks quite classy, but you can look at the pictures and decide for yourself.

The interior feels very special, albeit not that dissimilar to other Mercedes-Benz models. The centre console could be lifted straight from the C-Class, but that’s not a bad thing as it looks pretty smart and finding all the buttons you could require is intuitive.

Mercedes -Benz EQC (8)

Front and rear passengers will be very comfortable, although a lump in the floor will get in the way for adults sat in the middle rear seat. There's enough head and legroom, but the cabin doesn't seem particularly roomy. With some electric cars, the lack of a combustion engine translates to more interior space, but that doesn't feel like the case with the EQC. The boot falls slightly short of rivals, at 500 litres with the rear seats left up. Dropping them flat can be done at the touch of a button, providing more room if required.

The EQC gets the brand’s latest, very slick, MBUX infotainment system, which made its debut in the latest A-Class. This provides access to the usual features - navigation, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and the like - as well as numerous functions unique to the EQC, such as a range indicator and clever energy flow diagrams. It's very easy to operate and will also repond to 'Hey Mercedes' voice commands. This bit isn't as intuitive as the likes of Alexa or Siri, struggling with some requests, and will interrupt your conversation if you ever mention the word 'Mercedes' in the car.

To drive, the Mercedes-Benz EQC strikes the perfect middle ground between the sporty Jaguar I-Pace and softer Audi e-tron. Acceleration is brisk, thanks to its two electric motors (one at each axle) producing a combined 408PS. Four-wheel drive means there's plenty of traction, even in the wet, and officially it will reach 62mph in 5.1 seconds. It's certainly very eager to accelerate, making overtakes a breeze, while it also hides its heavy weight well in the corners.

The driver can use paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust the levels of recuperation. The higher the level, the more the car slows down and pumps energy back into the battery when you lift off the accelerator. While the highest amount of regen takes a little getting used to, it does mean you can resort to 'one-pedal' driving around town - leaving the brake for emergency situations.

Mercedes -Benz EQC (7)

One feature we haven't seen before is the automatic recuperation mode. This uses data from the car's cameras, radar and navigation data to adjust the level of retardation from the electric motors. Going downhill in a 30mph limit, for example, it will ramp up the regenerative braking to keep your speed down, while on an open motorway it allows the car to free-wheel without losing momentum.

While Jaguar is keen to emphasise the off-road capabilites of its I-Pace, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is very definitely a road car. Its four-wheel-drive system helps in slippery conditions, but its relatively low ground clearance means things could get quite damaging should you venture down a rocky track. This is definitely a car better suited to cities and motorways. In fact, on the road, it's one of the most refined electric cars we've driven.

Much like its rivals, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is a very impressive electric SUV. Its interior is up there with the Audi e-tron for feel good factor, while it's a delight to drive. The 259-mile range (under WLTP tests) will be enough for many drivers and there's a lot of technology on board that will let you eke out the range with sensible driving.

Still, the EQC isn't cheap and only committed buyers will be prepared to spend upwards of £65,000 on an electric car. But its running cost saving mights outweigh the monthly payments. If you can justify it, you're not going to be disappointed with the EQC.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC is on sale now with deliveries expected from July 2019. Prices start at £65,640.

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