The 300 kW strong Mercedes EQC kicks-off the big electric offensive of the German giant. Almost a year before the start of the series production, our colleagues from Auto motor und sport joined the chief developer of the Mercedes mid-size electric SUV for an extensive preview driving report.
Despite the camouflage, the Mercedes EQC reveals itself as an offshoot of the Paris study “Generation EQ”. The SUV comes with a slight coupe shape therefore, the lower window line rises slightly behind and should strive under the camouflage in a kink to the top. Instead of camera mini mirrors, the EQC has classic exterior mirrors. The front accommodates narrow headlights with encircling LED band.
At the rear already shine the series lights, which are also LED. The rear window is small as in the study and is shielded by a spoiler, the flap opening is also quite narrow. The first media preview test are following the announcement that the 200 prototypes and preproduction vehicles built by Mercedes have concluded their winter proving program and are now running suspension and powertrain tests.
The electric SUV will be built on a new architecture made of steel, aluminum and carbon, called EVA and specially developed for the battery electric models of Mercedes: the wheelbase and track width and all other system components, especially the batteries, are variable thanks to the modular system.
In addition to the EQC on the EVA I platform, there will be more models on the EVA II platform from 2020. So an EQ sedan the size of a Mercedes C-class, followed by a sedan in the S-class format and two SUVs the size of the GLS and GLE Coupe. They all have one thing in common: they are based on the look of the research car F 015 and have a seemingly hovering cockpit with a 24-inch TFT display. In the steering wheel, there is another screen that replaces the conventional rotary-push-dial controls.
In the study presented in 2016, two electric motors on the front and rear axles were powered by a battery integrated in the vehicle floor between the axles. The power of the drive is scalable. Maximum is up to 300 kW and 700 Nm, the range is up to 500 km. The modular lithium-ion battery comes from the Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive and has a model-specific total capacity of more than 70 kWh – up to a maximum of 110 kWh should be possible.
Driving Report Mercedes EQC
Michael Kelz, chief developer of the Mercedes mid-size electric SUV, is extremely relaxed: “We do not want to build a competitor Tesla, but a real Mercedes,” he says.
The development manager knows exactly how a real Mercedes has to drive, together with his team he has already taught the latest E-Class how to ‘levitate’. And although we are only allowed to take a seat in the passenger side, the driving feeling immediately sets in: isolated from the ground and all its imperfections, the electric SUV goes just as relaxed over bumps as the allusions Kelz makes about Tesla. Mercedes forfeited the installation of an air suspension system, so the conventional steel suspension with leveling at the rear axle was simply tuned very comfortably.
Even more than the great suspension comfort, impresses the almost silent drive. Compared to the high-frequency whirring of many electric motors under load, in the mid-size SUV we heard nothing. Daimler decided to cost-effectively decouple the two 150 kW electric motors. The front drive sits for this purpose in a tubular frame, which in turn is flexibly connected to the body. The second electric motor on the rear axle was also decoupled twice.
Almost silent drive
As in the electrified B-Class, asynchronous motors are also used in the EQC, as they fit better in the available installation space than synchronous motors with permanently excited magnets. In addition, less rare earths are needed in production – the metals, which are already scarce today and with increasing electrification of the drives should be more difficult to get.
The engines not only run quietly, they also provide a fierce start with their total of 300 kW. Especially from the stand the EQC presses the occupants vehemently in full power in their seating, and even at highway top speed acceleration is more than sovereign. The fact that the production version of the EQC will have a limited top speed is already decided, but not the speed itself though. It should be 180 or 190 km / h, reveals Kelz, while our pre-production model effortlessly breaks the 200 mark.
The battery capacity and thus the range is also fixed. It should be 70 kWh, with which the rumored 500 km range should be reached only under extremely favorable conditions and extremely comfortable driving. The batteries manufactured in Kamenz, Saxony, are housed in a crash-resistant steel box that sits in the underbody between the axles and ensures optimum weight distribution. Charging is by CCS plug with alternating current (AC) up to 11 kW or on fast charging columns with direct current (DC). The maximum charging power should be around 120 kW, if the pillar gives it. Most DC chargers currently deliver only 50 kW, a network with more powerful fast chargers with up to 350 kW is currently under construction on highways.
A-Class vibes inside
By contrast, the infotainment system MBUX, which is currently debuting in the A-Class, has been developed to perfection. Although the dashboard is still veiled, the two 10.4-inch displays peek out from behind the invisibility cloak. Also recognizable: although MBUX is operated via touch screen and touchpads, keys for the main functions are located in the center console. By comparison, the Comand system offered in the GLC has become obsolete.
Even with the range of functions, MBUX leaves nothing to be desired with its great voice control, many online functions and augmented reality display of the navigation instructions. In addition, all Level 2 assistance systems are available. True autonomous driving at level 3 is not provided.
Seats, center console or door panels are reminiscent of the GLC, as well as the sense of space given by the 4.70 meters long Mercedes EQC. The rear seat can also be folded in three parts in the EQC, its trunk volume should be no smaller than in the conventionally powered brother (550 to 1600 liters). The “electric high seat” should finally be a full-fledged everyday car. Although it does not take over a single piece of sheet metal from the GLC, the EQC is built on the same production line at the Bremen plant.
Mercedes can respond very flexibly to the demand for the different types of drive for its mid-size SUV. Interested parties, however, still have to be patient: the Mercedes EQC is still to be presented in late 2018, but deliveries will not begin until spring 2019.