Suddenly the world of electric SUV s becomes crowded. Mercedes-Benz has just presented the EQ C and now Audi is also joining the battlefield with the E-tron. FIRST STATIC COMPARISON.
The Audi marketing machine has been busy for some time now with the launch of the E-tron – postponed for a few months already. Electric cars become pretty common and now is the moment that brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Audi join the EV battle in the higher regions of car segments.
Last week, Mercedes has also attached the letter ‘C’ to the ‘EQ’ brand that becomes the collective name for all electrical models of the brand. The ‘C’ here refers to the segment in which the car resides. Therefore, the Mercedes-Benz EQ C is a compact SUV that is similar in size to the GLC.
Format and space
The E-tron measures 4.90 meters in length, is 1.94 meters wide and 1.62 meters high. The model is 24 centimeters longer than the Q5, but 10 centimeters shorter than the Q7. Likewise, the E-tron is 14 centimeters longer than the Mercedes-Benz EQ C. The wheelbase measures 2.93 meters, which is 6 centimeters more than the Mercedes with 2.87 meters.
The EQ C looks remarkably elongated and that is not just an appearance, because with a length of 4.76 meters, a width of 1.89 m and a height of 1.62 m, the EQ C is actually a bit longer and lower than a GLC, but slightly smaller than the Audi as we said before. The EQ C is a lot heavier than its regular driven brother and has an unladen weight of 2.425 kg. 650 kg of this is accounted for by the batteries. The total weight of the E-tron is roughly 2,400 kilos (700 kilos of which is the battery), so comparable to the mass of the EQ C.
The E-tron accommodates five passengers and the standard luggage compartment accessible via an electrically operated tailgate has a total capacity of 600 liters. In addition, 60 liters can be found in the nose of the plug-Audi. Meanwhile, the Mercedes has no front storage space (or frunk) and offers 100 liters of luggage volume in the rear boot: 500 liters. The EQ C also has an equal amount of seats: 5. If you fold the backseat in the Audi, you must be able to carry 1.725 liters (no official value for Mercedes yet).
The appearance of the E-tron is of course no surprise. The car looks remarkably ‘normal’, but the design is of course loaded with E-tron specific details. For example, the grille is silver-colored and equipped with active slats, LED-lines are incorporated in both front and rear light units, horizontal lines that recur in the bumpers, under the doors and in the wheels. These lines on the doors actually indicate where the battery pack is located. As with the A7, A8 and Q8, the rear lights are connected to each other by the means of an LED bar. LED headlights are also standard. According to Audi, the aerodynamic value is 0.28.
Mercedes-Benz also chose the evolutionary path in designing its first electric SUV. The Mercedes-Benz EQ C is the production version of the Generation EQ Concept and the styling remained largely unchanged. Even so, a few details had to go. The result includes a somewhat less futuristic front end which doesn’t feature the LED grille of the concept anymore plus the addition of mandatory items like door handles and door mirrors.
The chromed, traditional-looking grille stands out immediately. A striking detail: the front lights (Multibeam LED standard) are connected to each other by an illuminated rim placed at the top of the grille. Even the wheels look like the ones on concept car and stand out because of their blue accents.
Air suspension and adaptive dampers are standard for both cars. In the ‘Offroad’ position the ground clearance is increased by 3.5 centimeters. Who then presses ‘Rise’, hangs another 1.5 centimeters higher above the asphalt.
The interior of the Audi E-tron naturally breathes the atmosphere of the brand’s most recent designs. Striking options are the revolutionary Virtual Mirrors, door-mounted cameras that serve as side mirrors and send their images to 7-inch OLED screens located next to the dashboard on the door panels. On the dashboard we find not only a digital instrumentation (12.3 inch), but also two displays, of which the top one is 10.1 inches tall and the lower one measures 8.6 inches.
The EQC is equipped with the MBUX multimedia system, which was introduced in the current generation of Class A (in this section we give detailed information). In this case, the system has been updated with specific functions for this model, grouped in a new panel that is displayed on the system screen. This gives information on the autonomy, the state of charge and the flow of electrical energy, among other elements. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience receives a number of specific functions specifically aimed at electric driving, such as a navigation system that can help plan favorable routes and gain insight into the energy flows.
There is also a driving assistance system (ECO Assistant) that helps drive ahead of time. Mercedes-Benz says that, for example, gives indications on the right time to lift the foot off the accelerator to approach a new speed limitation. This system uses the data from the navigation system and the information provided by the traffic signal recognition system.
As we are used to from Mercedes today, this information comes to you through a large, wide ‘screen bar’ with two connected 10.25 inch TFT screens. The instrument cluster has two dials: the left one for the speed and the right one for the output and recuperation phases. The charge status and range are placed under the left dial instrument which shows the speed.
Blue LED stripes create a futuristic atmosphere, but the EQ C interior does not look very alien and actually resembles more than we would have thought the one of the GLC. Mercedes adheres to the styling rules that make the interiors of the brand so beautiful, although the electric newcomer does not have round, but rectangular air vents.
Then the exciting question: how does the powertrain of the E-tron relate to that of its greatest opponents? Just like the EQ C, the Audi has two electric motors, placed on each of axles. Under relatively low load, the engine placed on the rear axle keeps the car in motion. When working together the two engines are good for a maximum of 408 hp and 660 Nm of torque. The engine on the front axle delivers 170 hp, while the one on the rear axle produces 190 hp. Only in overboost mode they deliver the full 408 hp. With that power the E-tron has to sprint in 5.7 seconds to a speed of 100 km / h. The top speed is 200 km / h.
If we look at the EQ C, we observe power ratings of 400 hp and 696 Nm respectively – so 8 hp less, but a significant 36 Nm more. In the sprint department the E-tron is overtaken by the Mercedes which needs only 5.1 seconds to reach the 100 km/h mark, but the EQ C is slower in therms of peak speed: 180 km/h. In the Mercedes, the two engines are not similar: the front one is designed for the best efficiency in the low and medium range while the rear one offers more dynamism. The electric motor, a fixed-ratio transmission with a differential, the cooling system and the power electronics form a highly integrated, very compact unit.
The battery pack of the Audi E-tron has a capacity of 95 kWh and is placed between the axles into the floor. The weight distribution is 51:49. Audi promises a range of “more than 400 kilometers” according to the WLTP cycle. With its 80 kWh battery, the EQ C is also able to travel 400 kilometers with an energy fill under the WLTP regime. The batteries of the EQ C are mounted on a platform that has been specially designed for EVs and will also be moved among other EQ models in the future. The EQ C with a specified consumption of 22.2 kWh per 100 km is more than 450 km according to the old NEDC standard. In order to be able to actually achieve these values, one of the five available driving programs is given the name ‘Max Range’ (plus Comfort, Eco, Sport, Individual), while a so-called ‘haptic’ accelerator pedal warns the driver by means of vibrations until it is triggered. Additionally, the driver can modify the level of retention by means of paddles located behind the steering wheel: D Auto, D+ (coasting), D (low recuperation), D- (medium recuperation) and D — (high recuperation).
The E-tron is compatible with 150 kW chargers. At the end of this year some 200 of these charging stations will be found across Europe. By 2020, that number should rise to 400. This charging network is being developed through collaboration between companies such as Audi, Porsche, the BMW Group, Daimler, and Ford. So, Mercedes will naturally also have access to the same network. Of course, the Audi E-Tron can be charged from a 11 kW station too. A 22 kW charger is optional. The latter option will be available by the end of 2019. While driving, the car is of course also able to recharge via the regenerative braking system. In braking actions that generate 0.3 g, the car slows down purely with its electric motors, which convert that braking force into energy. In the case of more intense braking actions, the conventional brakes are activated – by means of six-piston calipers on the front wheels and monopiston on the rear wheels and it is activated by an electro-hydraulic pump without direct connection between the pedal and the hydraulic circuit.
Through a Wallbox system, it is possible to recharge the battery of the Mercedes-Benz EQ C at a power of 7.4 kW. Mercedes-Benz has not given details on the recharge times for this case; theoretically, in about eight hours it is possible to recharge almost 60 kWh, 75% of the capacity of the battery, although to this calculation it is necessary to subtract the losses, which vary depending on different factors. As usual, the recharge speed with a Wallbox system is about three times higher than in the domestic electrical network (230 V and 10 A). Additionally, through a system of rapid recharge of direct current, the load power can reach 110 kW if the specific station allows it. Mercedes-Benz says that in this way, the battery can be recharged from 10% to 80% in about 40 minutes.