The age of the great electric SUV is closer than ever. In the next two years, Mercedes, Audi and BMW will launch their first 100% emission free SUVs. We bring you the first static comparison between the future Mercedes EQ C, BMW iX3 and Audi e-tron quattro, Jaguar i-Pace.
Mercedes EQ C
Mercedes-Benz chose the revolutionary path for developing its new range of electric vehicles, united under the newly formed EQ sub-brand. The first member of the family will be the EQ C medium sized SUV, which will come to the market in 2019 and spawn a smaller footprint than the Jaguar i-Pace or Audi e-tron quattro rivals. As opposed to BMW, Mercedes will not develop its electric models on the platforms of its conventional models, opting instead for a dedicated modular architecture called MEA (Mercedes Electric Architecture) which will support a wide variety of applications – as many as 10 models, from compact cars to luxury sedans in the vein of the S-Class.
Mirroring the GLC in terms of size, the EQC will ofer 408 hp and 700 Nm, courtesy of two electric engines mounted on each of the two axles they power, being essentially a 4×4 with electric AWD. The Li-Ion battery will reside under the floor and have a projected capacity between 70 and 110 kW, enough for an electric range north of 500 km. The interior will have a more debonair layout than the GLC, but similar infotainment amenities with two large high-definition screens to the recently launched A-Class.
The iX3 will become in 2020 the first electric SUV from BMW, built on the CLAR modular platform (for models with longitudinal engines) of the recently launched new generation X3 sibling with conventional propulsion systems – made on the same production line. The fifth generation eDrive system will reunite the electric engine, control unit and gearbox into one assembly, easy to adapt for any class of vehicle.
The BMW iX3 will be powered by a 270 hp electric engine which doesn’t use rare metals anymore (least powerful in the segment) and a 70 kW compact and light battery. The electric range will reach 400 km according to the new WLTP cycle, while full recharging will be possible in under 30 minutes, thanks to the compatibility with 150 kW stations. The design will be similar to the conventional X3, with the exception of the blue accents around the logo, the extremities of the body and the revolutionary styled solid grille.
On the long term, BMW will not use a dedicated platform for the electric models, but will adapt the currently UKL platform (for transversal engines) and CLAR platform (for longitudinal engines) for all types of propulsion.
Audi e-tron quattro
The first electric SUV from Audi will be called e-tron quattro and is expected to debut in production form later this year, following its preview in concept guise at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. With a length of 4,88 m, will be longer but lower than the Mercedes EQ C, mimicking the allure of a lifestyle wagon. The e-tron quattro will inherit the revolutionary interior architecture of the A8 luxury sedan, replacing conventional knobs with two large central touchscreen displays, including one dedicated to the climate controls.
The Audi will use a modified Audi MLB platform and three electric engines, one powering the front axle and two more for each of the rear wheels. Power will go as high as 503 hp in boost mode, while the standard output is said to be 435 hp – both figures eclipsing the EQ C and iX3. The Germans promise a range of 500 km and they intend to keep this target with a very generous 95 kW battery which can be recharged in 30 minutes from large capacity 150 kW stations (plugging the e-tron quattro to an 11 kW station will result in a charging time closer to 8 hours and a half).
On the long term, Audi will join the efforts with Porsche to create a common electric platform named PPE. Audi and Porsche will build three model lines on this platform from 2021 on: two families will be developed by Audi and will include models from both brands while the third family will be developed exclusively by Porsche and will include only Porsche models.
The first of the premium electric SUVs to reach the market is Jaguar’s daring looking 4,68 m long i-Pace which adopts a SUC or Sport Utility Coupe profile with a low roofline. Its platform is all-new and relies heavily on light materials like aluminum which keep the weight down, despite the large 90 kW battery mounted low between the axles. The charging time varies between 40 minutes if the i-Pace is plugged-in to a 100 kW DC station or 10 hours if a 7 kW AC station is used. There are no options for recharging the i-Pace from 11 or 22 kW AC stations right now.
The propulsion system favors a sporty layout and mimics the advantages of all-wheel drive with two identical 200 hp electric engines powering each axle, total power being rated at 400 hp. Electric range is generous at 480 km according to the new and drastic WLTP cycle, a very good figure which eliminates range anxiety usually associated with current electric cars.
Even before its launch, the Mercedes EQ C seems to position itself at the forefront of the electric SUV race with generous power, range and dynamic breadth, besting both the BMW and the Jaguar which promise less hp and smaller autonomy figures. The only rival which marginally ups the ante compared to the Mercedes EQ C is the Audi e-tron quattro, which offers more power (thanks to its extra engine) and a longer body, but the same 500 km range. Pricing-wise, information is limited at this time, with the Audi and Jaguar’s circling the 80,000 euro mark.
|Mercedes EQ C||Audi e-tron||BMW iX3||Jaguar I-Pace|
|No. of engines||2||3||1||2|
|Max. output (HP)||408||435 (503 overboost)||275||400|
|Max. torque (Nm)||700||800||na||696|
|Boot volume (l)||na||615-1,725||na||656-1,453|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||5||4.6||na||4.8|
|Top speed (km/h)||na||210||na||200|
|Mixt consumption (kWh/100 km)||na||na||na||19|
|Range (km)||500||500||over 400||480|
|Battery (kWh)||over 70||95||over 70||90|
|Charge DC||150 kW||150 kW||150 kW||100 kW|
|Charge AC||na||11 kW (option 22 kW)||na||7 kW|
|Price (euro with VAT)||na||aprox. 80,000||77945|