While there are voices out there that say electric power makes cars with sporting credentials not as exciting as ones that burn gasoline for motivation, they cannot deny the fact that it makes luxury cars better. Much better.
Manufacturers of luxury cars have been getting better and better over the decades at building vehicles that isolate occupants from the constant hubbub of the outside world. One of the areas that have seen massive improvements in recent decades has to do with the noise, vibration and harshness that people feel while on-board.
Vehicles at the very pinnacle of luxury, made by the likes of Rolls Royce, are remarkable in this respect. When you are aboard the most recent Rolls Royce Phantom, you only hear the faint thrum of its twin-turbocharged V12 that puts out 563 horsepower and it would probably be better if there was no engine noise whatsoever.
And this brings me neatly to the point I want to make about the Mercedes-Benz EQC which I got to drive for a few days. Sure, it’s mechanically related to the gasoline- or diesel-burning GLC, but in ditching its ICE powertrain, what the manufacturer has created has to be one of the most luxurious feeling EVs currently on the market.
There’s a lot I have to say about it, so stick around, although keep in mind this isn’t a review based on fixed criteria, but more so my own (biased) opinion about it.
Its exterior isn’t particularly special. Sure, it has some blue flourishes, EV-esque wheels and an EQC400 badge on the back, but onlookers won’t think it’s anything other than a new Mercedes SUV. The story is different at night, with its front LED light bar setup that really draws a lot of looks and is also complemented by the rear light bar.
It’s a decent looking SUV, whose body style is kind of in between the GLC and the GLC Coupe; not quite a traditional SUV, but not quite a fastback either. However, once you’ve stepped inside, your opinion will dramatically change, especially if you step aboard a well-specced example such as the one I tested.
Mine had the two-tone Artico leather with a dark blue/black combo. The dash was clad in a very unique material, as were the tops of the door cards - the latter is, I’d say, about halfway between suede and regular leather and it’s very cool to the touch.
The design of the interior, particularly from a front occupant’s perspective is definitely striking. It has the now common Mercedes two-screen setup with MBUX running on the central display, but it’s recessed into the dash and it has cool details around it. The vents also come finished in rose gold and I actually quite liked the way that looked (even though they were made out of plastic, not metal and when you touched them, they didn’t quite feel that special).
It’s definitely a Mercedes interior, but it feels quite different and unique compared to the rest of the range, even the S-Class flagship. The seats are comfortable and offer a lot of adjustment and I can sit behind myself in my ideal driving position quite comfortably (I’m 183 cm or exactly six-foot-tall).
The interior sets the stage for a very special driving experience and it’s here that the EQC really delivers. Unlike some manufacturers that have not really bothered with masking electric motors’ whirring sound, because these motors are quite quiet anyway, Mercedes has clearly actively sought to keep the noise they make quite muted.
You occasionally hear some motor whine, but it’s only under hard acceleration or when you have more aggressive regen enabled. Otherwise, you genuinely feel like the proverbial hand of God is nudging you forth with remarkable effortlessness.
Regarding its performance, the EQC400 is undeniably a fast SUV. It will pin you to your seat if you floor the go pedal, especially picking up from lower speeds, because at higher speeds (close to its 180 km/h or 112 mph top speed) it is slightly less eager to pull. But even with its impressive performance just a flex of your foot away, it does not edge you to drive it quickly.
And this is the point of the EQC, I think. You know it’s capable to out-accelerate most SUVs on the road, but you really don’t want to, because it’s just so enjoyable to cruise in. It is probably the most relaxed cruiser I’ve ever had the pleasure to test, even though I have been aboard much more expensive and exclusive machines than this.
The suspension also deserves a shout out. Even though it doesn’t come with adaptive dampers and only the rear gets air suspension, the EQC pummels road imperfections into submission with remarkable ease. It actually feels better than some other vehicles with full air suspension, although in its case it’s also probably a byproduct of the roughly 2.5 tons that it has to lug around.
Gallery: 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC
It is a truly remarkable experience and one which for me was unexpected, since I had driven quite a few variants of the GLC model lineup and they feel nowhere near as special as the EQC. This makes me look forward to the Three Pointed Star’s upcoming EVs in general and the flagship EQS sedan in particular even more.