Auto focus

This Merc would get Greta’s approval

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

The EQC is part of a growing new breed of electric crossovers that promise sprightlier performance than conventional cars, with nothing coming out of the tailpipe

Petrolheads like yours truly will continue to claim that electric cars are appliances on wheels and that the zero to 100 kmph sprint alone is not a metric to obsess over when it comes to experiencing a car.

But the future of the automobile is electric — in some form. Yes, the experience of driving an electric is one dimensional — torque, torque and more torque. Floor the pedal, avoid obstacles by using the steering wheel and that’s about it. Driverless cars will take over even those two tasks. But, the next generation of car buyers are apparently happy with that prospect. They’ll sip on their bubble teas and watch the next episode of a Netflix series while being driven by ‘Jarvis’ to their destination. I personally think they’d be better off taking public transport. I don’t think I’ll enjoy driving an EV, except maybe on a race track, where all that torque can be put to some use.

We’ve had a few EVs in our midst for years now, but last year was the beginning of a new chapter in India’s electric evolution. The coming of age of electrics in 2019 saw cars like the Hyundai Kona and the MG ZS EV make it to our shores. Our charging infrastructure is nowhere close to being ready for a migration to electric, but this year, we are about to witness an onslaught in the luxury EV space with a possible line-up of cars like the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Jaguar IPACE, Audi e-tron and the BMW i3S. The first to launch will be the Mercedes EQC — the GLC equivalent (in terms of positioning and size) from the new EQ division of the German brand.

Tailpipe dreams

The EQC has a range of about 417 km on a full charge. With all of those 760Nm of torque available instantly from start, the EQC can do the 0-100 kmph run in just 5.1 seconds   -  S Muralidhar

 

The EQC has more SUV in its blood than many other electrics. Very close to the GLC, with a matching wheelbase, too, this first electric vehicle from Mercedes also points to the direction that will be taken by other EVs from the brand. By 2022, Merc plans to have at least ten EVs in its portfolio. And many will share considerable design similarities with the EQC. The 5-seater EQC looks very similar to the GLC when viewed from the side. It is based on the Generation EQ Concept car that was first unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. With its blue LEDs and highlights within the major design features in the exterior and interior of the car, the EQC stands out as a special vehicle from the three-pointed star. Yet, it looks almost like a conventional ICE powered car from all angles.

The EQC is powered by an electric powertrain that features two asynchronous electric motors (one each on the front and rear axles) and a 80 kWh battery pack. The total output of the two motors is 402hp and 760Nm. It is primarily a front wheel drive vehicle and so is powered only by the front axle’s electric motor, but based on driver demand and driving conditions, the rear axle motor also joins the mix. The EQC has its own version of 4MATIC, Merc’s all-wheel drive tech. The battery consists of 384 lithium-ion cells and are all packed into the floor of the vehicle. When connected to a DC fast charger, the EQC’s battery pack can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in just 40 minutes.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the EQC has a range of about 417 km on a full charge. With all of those 760Nm of torque available instantly from start, the EQC can do the 0-100 kmph run in just 5.1 seconds. The top speed has been electronically limited to 180 kmph. The transmission is a single speed with fixed ratios, but instead of changing gears, steering-mounted paddle shifters enable choosing varying levels of brake energy regeneration.

Two touchscreens for infotainment and control of other functions take up prime real estate on the dashboard   -  S Muralidhar

 

The cabin has an interesting mix of materials and, while the layout is very focussed on functionality and intuitiveness, there are elements that differentiate it, too. But, the cabin feels so familiar that you would be excused for thinking this is a conventional Merc. Two touchscreens for infotainment and control of other functions take up prime real estate on the dashboard. There is also the latest generation of the MBUX system with the voice-activated, virtual smart assistant. The EQC will be commercially launched in April this year. It will be a CBU import, will likely be offered only in one trim variant and could be priced at over ₹1.4 crore (ex-showroom).

Published on January 16, 2020
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.