Electric cars aren’t just for saving the universe. At least that’s the message conveyed by the makers of the newest luxury EVs – the Jaguar I-Pace is marketed as a performance model, while the Audi E-Tron was introduced with its 200km/h speed limit. Tesla’s Ludicrous mode speaks for itself. Now the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 follows suit.
Two weeks ago, we were invited to a ride along in a pre-production EQC, all the way up at Gerotek testing facilities, not so far from Hartbeespoort. That’s where the majority of carmakers go testing, and where lucky media and customers can participate in high intensity challenges and drift training on “open roads”. We got the best of both worlds, joining a few engineers from Mercedes HQ for testing during the EQC 400’s final calibration under the African sun.
The Mercedes’ engineers were here for a worthy cause: putting in additional work to perfect the EQC’s heat ‘resistant” capabilities. And true enough, the EQC’s asynchronous motors, which turn out a full 300kW/765Nm of torque, provide such immediate response that entering a drift is as easy as it gets — given that you turn the stability control off entirely. Keeping it in that drift isn’t hard either, as the EQC’s slight throttle response makes certain of that. Its Sport mode allows for significant drift angles, while the Comfort and Eco modes apathetically keep you on track even if you smash the accelerator in the gawkiest possible way.
Being such a well-sorted tool on the skid-pad indicates general goodness, and the EQC definitely holds on the road well, even if it’s not free of body roll. Mercedes-Benz unambiguously says it’s no SUV, and its car-like ground clearance of just over 12cm would certainly confirm that.
As in other EVs, the EQC’s all-wheel-drive system is the result of motors placed at each axle. The front motor is accountable for efficient low- to mid-range performance, while the rear motor brings high-end performance. They are fed by an 80-kWh lithium-ion battery with fast charging that promises about 450km from a full charge. This of course will vary according to your driving style.
Straight-line performance is striking, with a sprint from 0 to 100km/h taking just 5.1 seconds. Top speed is rather disappointing at a mere 180km/h as the motors are nearly pushed out at that velocity. What’s worth noting is that, compared to earlier generation EVs, in the EQC passengers travel in utter silence, this is the result of engineers going to excessive lengths to isolate any noise.
Because the EQC is based on the GLC, the doors and windshield are shared, as are the seats. But the dashboard is a generation ahead, sharing the MBUX tech interface with the new Mercedes A-Class and GLE-Class.
There are fundamentals special to the EQC, however. Metallic strips are milled with unbelievable precision, the air vents feature a rose gold like metallic effect, and the upper dashboard is clad with a shiny, metallic material. Altogether, the EQC’s colour and trim choices send a clear message: The electric avenue comes with its own aesthetics.
Outside, the Mercedes-Benz EQC looks different enough not to be confused with the GLC. It is slightly longer, with the extra length devoted to the boot space, while extended side windows feature an upwards twist. The lower rear facade tries hard to mask the EQC’s tallness, and it actually looks better in the optional AMG package.
While on the rear, the horizontal light bar is an element that by now, unfortunately, others have went with as well: It’s on any new Porsche and all newer Audi models, for example. But Mercedes has come up with a unique treat for design devotees: There is a horizontal light bar up front, too. That hasn’t been seen on a production car since the early 1990s, and it’s flippen cool.
And that is what it’s like getting a ride in the EQC in Harties. However, we still need to get behind the wheel and there’s still a lot to find out about the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 before it officially arrives on African soil later this year. Stay tuned.