All-electric Mercedes EQ C tackles Tesla

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...as well as Audi, Jaguar and the world. This is Merc’s plug-in future. Like it?

Up until now, Mercedes’ forays into the world of electric cars have constituted a very rare SLS AMG and a very niche B-class. No longer. This is the Mercedes EQ C, the launch star of the company’s all-electric EQ sub-brand. Looks reasonably close to the EQ concept, don’t you think?

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Under its svelte, slightly Range Rover Velar SUV proportions, the EQ C uses a familiar tactic in electric car construction. The 80kWh lithium-ion battery, weighing some 650kg (a quarter of the car’s entire 2.4-tonne mass) lives beneath the floor, keeping the centre of gravity low and improving crash safety. The EQ C’s front electric motor aims to offer the most efficiency, while the rear motor – this is a four-wheel-drive vehicle, like the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X – is optimised for more punch.

Maximum combined power output is 400 horsepower, while torque is a predictably titanic 765 Newton meters.

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In old money – which seems somehow inappropriate for such a modern car – that’s 765Nm. More than a C63’s V8 offers up, delivered silently. As a result, Mercedes is claiming 0-100km/h in a hot-hatch-spec 5.1 seconds, and a modest top speed of 178km/h. While v-max is unimportant, range obviously is.

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So, in addition to Comfort, Eco and Sport driving modes, you’ll find a Max Range setting in the EQ C. Deploy that and Mercedes claims you’ll travel 450km. However, that’s calculated on the old NEDC test cycle, not the new WLTP regulations, so expect a real-world figure somewhere around the 250-mile mark. Next up in the EV checklist: charging. Mercedes has fitted a 7.4kW on-board, water-cooled charger.

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However, there’s a bespoke Mercedes Wallbox which can juice the EQ C three times faster than a domestic plug. Mercedes says it expects DC charging to offer a 10-80 per cent charge (EVs rarely go lower, and are equally rarely charged up to full) in 40 minutes. Best get lobbying for healthier snacks at your local motorway services…

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On the outside, the EQ C doesn’t do the arch-modern scary eco-car thing. Mercedes doesn’t want to alienate the traditionalists. It’s got a flush light bar front and rear, and blue highlights, but it manages to look contemporary without dating like a sci-fi prop, we’d wager. Inside, it’s a similar story. Big screens (albeit reconfigured to show EV-relevant data, not revs and fuel level), and subtle copper detailing in the vents. Because copper, wires, electric… you get the point.

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Looks more lux than a Tesla’s screen-dominated cockpit, we reckon – but is it too conservative for a machine supposed to introduce a whole new brand? The tech has also been rethought for its EV application. The nav takes into account which en-route chargers will get the job done faster. The climate control is optimised for pre-conditioning, easing battery strain when a quick demist is needed.

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None of these are strictly ultra-new ground-breaking ideas, but it’s very often the subtle, real-world tricks that make the biggest difference to everyday life. And will win the war against the likes of the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-Tron…

Detailing all the semi-autonomous safely systems present would take more pixels than there are in the internet so, suffice it to say, the EQ C can be outfitted with everything that makes an S-class look after its occupants both during a motorway cruise/city commute/traffic jam and in the event of an accident in those environments, and more besides.

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Production kicks off in 2019, complete with Mercedes-own brand batteries on board, which should alleviate any so-called ‘production hell’ if the pre-order website goes into meltdown. We’ll need to know prices before that, however…

STORY Ollie Kew

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.