IMMENDINGEN, Germany – Mercedes-Benz is taking two starkly totally different approaches to electrifying its lineup. A few of its EQ-branded electrical vehicles are standalone fashions with no gasoline-burning counterpart, just like the EQS and the EQE. They’re positioned as electrical alternate options to the S-Class and the E-Class, respectively, they usually look nothing like their gasoline-powered alter-egos. Others are electrical variants of the gas-powered vehicles themselves; the brand new GLB-based Mercedes-Benz EQB falls into this class, with the EQC bought in some international markets being one other. Solely a handful of styling cues inside and outside, and naturally the powertrain, differentiate these EVs from their gasoline-burning counterparts.
Each approaches are intriguing as a result of they create utterly several types of vehicles. Standalone EVs are usually extra futuristic, each when it comes to design and itechnology. EVs based mostly on present fashions typically feel and appear acquainted, which may reassure consumers on the fence about shopping for an electrical automotive (or truck, within the case of the Ford F-150 Lightning). We have praised the GLB, calling it “a power to be reckoned with in a rising luxurious phase.” Now we have traveled to southern Germany to learn how it behaves as an EV.
Though the EQB’s physique is equivalent to the GLB’s, designers shifted the front-end design in a extra futuristic path, above left, to deliver the crossover in keeping with different members of the EQ vary. The headlights are thinner and swept-back as an alternative of rectangular, they usually flank a black piece of trim that replaces the grille. The brand new look is markedly much less outdoorsy nevertheless it works nicely. From the facet, the distinctive beltline kink above the rear wheel arch stays, whereas the again finish good points the sunshine bar that defines different EQs.
These adjustments aren’t drastic, however they assist the EQB obtain a drag coefficient of 0.28, down from 0.32 for the GLB. Felix Rothfelder, the worldwide product supervisor for the EQB and EQE, advised me that the EQB is the primary automotive that the agency designed fully digitally. The design was locked in and key parameters had been examined utilizing solely software program earlier than the primary mannequin was constructed and checked in real-world circumstances.
Pay no consideration to the pink-ish seat shade in our photographs; it’s accessible on European-spec vehicles, just like the EQB 300 that I drove in Germany, nevertheless it won’t be supplied in america. Which means EQB-specific bits inside are largely restricted to illuminated door sill plates and a tweaked model of the MBUX infotainment system whose navigation software program elements in topography, visitors circumstances, and charging stops when planning a route. It’s a intelligent piece of know-how that takes among the guesswork out of driving an EV on a highway journey. It is displayed on the identical 10.25-inch touchscreen that you just discover within the GLB.
Going electrical doesn’t sacrifice cabin house, which is without doubt one of the GLB’s strongest belongings. The EQB can comfortably carry 4 adults and their gear in its five-seater configuration, even when the rear passengers are on the taller facet. Mercedes-Benz affords third-row seats at an additional value however they’re an odd trade-off: They provide the capacity to hold two small passengers whereas lowering the trunk’s usable quantity to that of a Lamborghini Aventador’s. Talking of trunk house, don’t search for a frunk. Pop the hood and also you’ll see a part of the EQB’s electrical guts. Rothfelder advised me including a frunk would have been attainable, however engineers determined to not as a result of the trunk is sufficiently big as-is. He’s not mistaken: The five-passenger mannequin measures about 27 cubic ft and supplies a shocking quantity of room for stuff.
Patrons have two EQB flavors referred to as EQB 300 and EQB 350, respectively, to select from. Each are fitted with a pair of electrical motors (one per axle) for through-the-road all-wheel-drive and a lithium-ion battery pack with 70.5 kilowatt-hours of usable power. The largest distinction between the 2 fashions is the drivetrain’s output. It’s rated at 225 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque within the 300, and 288 hp and 384 lb-ft within the 350. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t launched vary data but, nevertheless it notes that each fashions are constructed on a 400-volt electrical structure and max out at 100 kilowatts of charging capability.
Frankly, these figures underwhelm. For roughly the identical amount of cash, the Volvo XC40 Recharge in addition to prime variations of the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, plus the Ford Mustang Mach-E Prolonged Vary AWD, are much more highly effective and shave a number of seconds off the EQB 300’s pokey 8.0-second 0-100 km/h time. The 350’s comparatively modest bump gained’t shut the hole a lot. EPA vary estimates aren’t but accessible, however with a European WLTP vary estimate of 418 kilometers (260 miles) being much like the XC40’s, it appears logical that each variations of the EQB might be in the identical low-200s vary because the Volvo right here in america. Lastly, that 100-kW cost capability is significantly slower than the entire above, plus Mercedes’ personal EQE and EQS.
There’s some additional context to be discovered right here as nicely, as a result of one of many EQB’s most direct rivals is inevitably the GLB giving it the side-eye from throughout the showroom flooring. Store for a GLB and also you’ll even have two variants to select from. Referred to as GLB 250, the entry-level mannequin comes with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It spins the entrance wheels through an eight-speed automated transmission, and the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is obtainable at an additional value. The second and remaining rung on the ladder is the all-wheel-drive-only GLB 35 AMG, which receives an “AMG-enhanced” evolution of the 250’s turbo-four tuned to supply 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
Comparatively small, the GLB lends itself nicely to electrification. Like virtually all battery-powered vehicles, the EQB is zippy off the road and it delivers easy, linear acceleration in close to silence. One difficulty that carmakers typically run into when electrifying a car developed with an inside combustion engine is noise: rattles, squeaks, and different annoyances invite themselves into the cabin as soon as they’re now not muted by the engine. That’s not the case with the EQB, and this feat is shocking contemplating that Mercedes-Benz didn’t make any main adjustments to quell noise, vibration and harshness. Rothfelder advised me that a part of the smoothness was achieved by including damping mounts to every motor and to their housing.
My time behind the wheel of the EQB 300 was restricted to the roads that zig-zag by the postcard-like German countryside. In these circumstances, the EQB’s 4 driving modes (Consolation, Sport, Eco and Particular person) carry out precisely the way you count on. Consolation is the default profile, and the one which’s best-suited to day-to-day driving. Sport makes the EQB markedly livelier: It feels faster, even with the leisurely 0-60 time, and the pedal response is sharper. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, Eco neuters the powertrain (notably by flattening the throttle response) to maximise driving vary and save power. Particular person lets the motive force configure an à la carte mode.
Stuffing the battery pack – the heaviest a part of the drivetrain by a large margin – beneath the passenger compartment lowers the middle of gravity, which in flip reduces physique roll, however the powertrain is front-biased and the EQB drives prefer it. Mercedes-Benz aimed for sure-footedness and luxury above all, which makes the EQB a laid-back automotive to drive. Engineers additionally dialed in three ranges of regenerative braking that may be chosen utilizing the paddles (don’t name them shift paddles!) on the steering wheel. The menu reads like my math grades in high-school: D-, D, and D+. D- is the strongest of the three; it unlocks the potential of one-pedal driving on nation roads. D yields roughly the identical braking impact as an engine brake once you take your proper foot off of the accelerator pedal, whereas D+ lets the EQB coast.
Hill after hill and switch after flip, the EQB feels … completely regular. Like a snug small crossover with an expensive inside that occurs to be electrical. Its EV-ness isn’t put entrance and middle; Mercedes-Benz didn’t program an outer house faux engine noise as within the AMG EQS, for instance. That’s both a great or a foul factor, relying in your perspective. The one exception to this rule is the brake pedal, which may really feel obscure because the automotive juggles the hydraulic and regenerative braking programs. Stopping energy is nice, don’t get the mistaken thought, however the pedal really feel takes some getting used to in the event you’re coming from a gasoline-powered automotive. Not all EVs are like this.
Pricing for the EQB 300 begins at $55,550 for the bottom mannequin, $56,800 for the Unique trim that provides niceties like proximity entry and a wi-fi telephone charger, and $59,350 for the Pinnacle that good points a Burmester surround-sound system and a surround-view digital camera, amongst different options. Get the 350 and also you’ll be requested to pay $59,100, $60,350, and $61,400, respectively. These figures embrace the cheap $1,050 vacation spot cost however are earlier than the $7,500 federal tax credit score or different accessible incentives. Patrons may even obtain free 30-minute periods for 2 years on the Electrify America community of charging stations, which is a boon as a result of Mercedes-Benz has not proven an curiosity in paying to your gasoline in the event you take house a GLB.
Even with incentives factored in, the EQB is just not low cost. It’s priced in GLC territory. That’s an obstacle, and it’s not an insignificant one. Compared, the front-wheel-drive GLB 250 is priced at $39,650, whereas including all-wheel-drive bumps that determine to $41,650. Placing the GLB 35 in your driveway will value you $51,000 together with vacation spot. With that stated, electrical energy is cheaper than gasoline. The EQB is priced about on par to comparable EVs, together with the Volvo XC40 Recharge ($54,645 together with vacation spot) and prime variations of the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. In fact, as already talked about, their efficiency, vary and charging specs are superior.
When you’re available in the market for a small crossover and also you’re keen to contemplate all powertrain varieties, the GLB is a greater total worth – it affords practically the identical professionals and cons because the EQB in a extra inexpensive bundle. When you particularly desire a small electrical crossover from a luxurious model, your decisions are admittedly few. The EQB will not be essentially the most aggressive on paper, nevertheless it nonetheless makes a really robust case for itself – it’s spacious, sensible and certainly extra luxurious than the Hyundais, Kias, and sure, Teslas of the world.