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Review: Mercedes delivers stunner with electric compact luxury SUV

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The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

Move over Tesla, the competition comes from Mercedes-Benz.

The German automaker’s latest all-electric vehicle is a compact luxury SUV dubbed the EQB, based on its petrol cousin, the GLB. Like the GLB, the EQB can accommodate up to seven passengers – a unique feature for an all-electric SUV with little competition other than Tesla’s Model Y and the larger Model X.

The EQB is the latest in a series of new electric vehicles brought to market by Mercedes-Benz. This is part of a massive commitment to invest more than 40 billion euros in battery electric vehicles by 2030. The EQB 350 4MATIC, the only version coming to Canada so far, has the same same height and width as the GLB, but slightly longer, 40mm.

Its design is also significantly bolder – it’s no ordinary three-pointed star. Unique features include the iconic Mercedes-Benz black panel grille designed for electric vehicles, a horizontal fiber-optic light strip that extends to the front and rear of the vehicle, and electric blue accents in the headlights front LED. The light alloy rims are available in a two-tone or three-tone design, with a size of up to 50 centimeters.

The light alloy rims are available in a two-tone or three-tone design.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

A 66.5 kWh battery runs along the underbody of the EQB so as not to occupy the passenger compartment or cargo space. Dual electric motors produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard, with a front-drive model expected in 2023. The estimated range is 419 kilometers according to the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) test cycle in Europe. Expect that number to be lower in North America when these numbers are released.

To charge, simply plug in an alternating current (AC) charger or direct current (DC) fast charger. Charging time is about 30 minutes to go from 10% to 80% using a DC fast charger.

Press the start button and the EQB comes to life. It is pleasantly calm and serene. My vehicle has approximately 350 kilometers of range when the route starts at the Mercedes-Benz Center of Excellence in Sindelfingen, approximately 20 kilometers from Stuttgart, en route to the Black Forest region in southwestern Germany .

Along winding mountainous roads, through quaint tiny villages, and on speed-limitless stretches of motorway, the EQB 350 4MATIC performs flawlessly. It is impressive for its handling and handling. It’s stable, quiet, confident, and blazingly fast.

When stationary, step on the accelerator and you are returned to your seat. You can hit 0100 km/ h in just 6.2 seconds. Driving, it feels like a gasoline GLB and not an electric vehicle. After driving around 100 kilometers, the electric range drops considerably to around 150 kilometers.

In all fairness, I pushed it over parts of the freeway where there is no speed limit, hitting the electronically programmed 163 kilometer limit quickly and effortlessly. Traveling at high speed, the EQB is confident, secure and well planted. Equally impressive are the semi-autonomous driving characteristics.

Adaptive cruise control, for example, can read speed limit signs along the road and adjust as needed to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front – the driver is not touching a pedal. This comes in handy when the speed limits change, dropping frequently from 100 km / h to 50 km / h in just a few seconds. The system operates smoothly and transparently.

You can also take your hands off the steering wheel for short periods of time, about 15 seconds, and the vehicle will stay centered in the lane. It is one of the best systems on the market.

Inside, the cockpit is a transfer from the GLB, with two smaller screens to access everything from the navigation to the entertainment system. Unlike the EQS, Mercedes-Benz’s first electric vehicle, there is no massive MBUX hyper-display, a 56-inch screen that stretches from pillar to pillar. It would be out of place in a compact SUV.

The on-board personal assistant is excellent; it is easy to use and understands natural human language. Just use the keywords “Hey Mercedes” to sign up. Say “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold” and the system will automatically lower the temperature, or “Hey Mercedes, open the awning” and it will automatically roll out the sunshade on the sunroof.

It performs all the commands the first time. You can even ask how much autonomy is available and where the nearest charging stations are. The electrically intelligent navigation also calculates and displays the fastest route to the destination, taking into account the range, the charging power and the duration of possible charging stops. The system also ensures that the high-voltage battery has reached an optimum charging temperature before a planned charging stop.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB rolls off the line at the company’s Kecskemét plant in Hungary. It will go on sale in the second quarter of 2022. Pricing is not yet available.

Technical specifications

The EQB has two electric motors that produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB

Base price: to confirm

Motor: two electric motors produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque

Transmission / Driving: single speed; AWD

Fuel economy (liters / 100 km city and highway): nothing

Alternatives: Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model X, Audi Q4 e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace

Looks

The EQB has more presence and character than its petrol-powered cousin GLB thanks to unique features such as a solid black panel grille with no air vent – unnecessary as there is no engine to cool under the hood. The stunning rose gold multi-spoke wheels on my test model are a stumbling block.

Interior

Even though the EQB can accommodate up to seven people, the third row is a bit narrow for adults and difficult to sit on.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

Five or seven seat configurations are available. The third row seat is tight for adults. Getting into the third row is also tricky. Even though the second row slides forward and backward 140 millimeters, it takes the skill of a contortionist to get inside. Once there, however, he doesn’t feel too claustrophobic. A double sunroof makes it airy and spacious. Four child seats can also be fitted inside.

Performance

The EQB’s acceleration is immediate and it hugs the road like a cozy sweater.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

Powerful, fast, agile – it feels like you’re driving a gasoline-powered GLB. The EQB hugs the road perfectly and delivers instant acceleration as soon as you step on the accelerator. To ease range anxiety, another 100 clicks of electric range would be nice.

Technology

A color screen and an augmented reality navigation system display information for the driver.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

Loaded with semi-autonomous driving functions such as active lane keeping assist, active brake assist and adaptive cruise control that can read speed limit signs and adjust speed as needed without intervention of the driver. A full-color head-up display and augmented reality navigation system display information for the driver.

Cargo

The trunk of the EQB has about 150 liters of space.Petrina Gentile / The Globe and Mail

Surprisingly, there is no front trunk – pipes and heat pumps take up this space, which is rare in an all-electric vehicle. Behind the third row the space is small – there are no official figures on the exact amount, but I estimate it to be around 150 to 160 liters. The third row seats also fold flat into the floor, if extra room is needed. Access to the loading area is easy. You can even kick under the rear bumper to open or close the tailgate.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz leads the competition with its all-new EQB all-electric compact SUV.

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