If you’ve lived long enough in Mumbai, you’re most likely starved for an open road, fringed with sloping green hills. If you’ve lived long enough here, you’d also know that you need to catch this greenery before the city’s famous faux-winter sets in and the emerald expanses begin disappearing. That’s why we have throngs of motorists taking to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, stopping by at Lonavala for an escape from the city’s rigour. Post-lockdown, this was one of my first long drives with the family and it had to be special. I decided to make it electric and drive the Mercedes EQC to test the country’s first luxury electric SUV.
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The Mercedes EQC is an absolute unit, becoming the first dedicated electric car in the German manufacturer’s illustrious history. When I first stepped into the cockpit, it had an air of modernity that was palpable and for some reason, surprising. I’d never think of what Mercedes would do in an all-electric setup and that’s what made the cockpit of the EQC so refreshingly new to behold. You are greeted by two 10.25-inch screens that sit behind a seamless expanse of glass, behind the steering wheel, extending to where you would normally find the infotainment console. You would expect an innovative instrument cluster, but I felt I’ve seen this far too often before. The air vents were more interesting in their copper tinge.
The MBUX user experience system is very intuitive. It supports several gestures, making it easy for the driver and co-passenger to control the media and sound.
The system is smart enough to identify if it is the driver or the co-passenger who is instructing it, thereby giving them the ability to access features that suit their respective conveniences. My dad had fun interacting with the gesture-controlled system, thanks to its ease of use and responsiveness. The system lets you pre-define various battery and energy optimisation settings so that you’re never caught low on charge and have a lower carbon footprint, which is the point of electric vehicles, right? Mercedes has gone the extra mile to ensure that its first all-electric car doesn’t land customers with ‘range anxiety’. And so, the system does well to keep you in the know, always.
When I looked for what triggered the earlier thought of the EQC being so modern, I realised there was no wood anywhere in the cabin. There’s a lot of glass, metal, and finer materials on the blue leather seats with Alcantara inserts. The car is especially good for Indian families because of the spacious and comfortable rear seating area, and lest I forget, 500 litres of storage space, even without a frunk.
The driver’s seat feels plush and a futuristic with the cool paddle shifters behind the wheel. However, the absence of the clutch is reminded to you constantly by the effort you put into familiarising yourself with the braking. We loved gliding through the hills in the EQC because it was so silent. An occasional passing truck or loud supercar would disturb the tranquillity of the silence and the gentle Carnatic beats that filled the car, thanks to the Burmester sound system.
The EQC comes with blind-spot monitoring, lane assistance, and adaptive cruise control. There’s an ENERGIZING pack that comes with several solutions to stay fresh and healthy even on long drives, which includes aromatherapy, mood lighting preferences, training, and tips to boost vitality as well as seat-heating features.
Coming to the performance of the EQC, it pairs two electric motors with a lithium-ion battery. A one-speed direct transmission powers all four wheels.. The powertrain offers a massive 402hp and 561 lb-ft of torque, which can take the car from 0-100 kmph in around 5 seconds.
Let’s not forget we’re still talking about an electric SUV here, which is impressive. The EQC drove well on flat surfaces and bumpy off-road shortcuts as well. The handling felt great and for its size, the car did quite well around some rather annoying turns as well.
Mercedes loyalists will acknowledge that the EQC is based on the GLC-Class, which could be more of a limitation and could be one of the delimiting factors for the designers to go crazy with this one. It has the same 113.1-inch wheelbase as the GLC-Class crossover. There are noticeable differences between both models, however.
The grille is closed off and has LED headlamps on either side, with blue highlights within them. You could choose customisation that includes the running boards on either side of the car, that help improve its aerodynamics.
A single, full charge can take you through a 400-kilometre drive, which is rather impressive. A lot of this depends on a host of factors, including the wheels you select, the addition of the aforementioned aerodynamic running boards, and of course, your driving style and environment. Mercedes proactively checks if the wall box charger can be installed at your end before they hand you the keys to the car. This could impact their sales, but it surely ensures that their customers are served the best electric car experience.
While the Mercedes EQC successfully tells us of the future of electric SUVs and how they’d do on Indian roads, it also brings into perspective the unfamiliarity of a near silent butter smooth driving experience. India does have its sights fixed on an electric automotive future and from my experience with the EQC I can definitely say it looks equally exciting and promising.