The new Mercedes EQB SUV is now available in Australia, and it’s one of the German brand’s best electric cars to date.
Slowly but surely, Mercedes-Benz is electrifying its entire range of combustion-engined cars. We previously revealed the brand’s plans to unveil 19 new models by 2024 – almost all of which will have a plug. In Australia, the EQA, EQC and EQS already make part of the Mercedes-EQ line-up, and now the seven-seat EQB is available to order.
The visual similarities between it and the petrol and diesel-based GLB are clear to see; like the GLB, its EQ sibling has more than a whiff of baby G-Wagon to its styling, with a high roofline and a boxy silhouette. In fact, the parallels don’t stop there – quality inside is excellent; the EQB uses a familiar dual-screen infotainment set-up, and the steering wheel is almost indistinguishable from that in the flagship AMG G63.
But under the metal and behind the blanked-off grille, the EQB is rather different.
There are two models to choose from – the 140kW/385Nm EQB 250 and the 215kW/520Nm EQB 350 4MATIC we’re driving here for the first time on German roads. Both get a 66.5kWh battery but the 350 gets a pair of electric motors providing 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
It results in an alert and punchy response from a standstill that’s gripping; 0-100km/h takes 6.2 seconds and overtaking is no trouble either, with instant acceleration right up to freeway speeds.
Handling is best described as safe and secure rather than particularly fun or engaging – although that has as much to do with the EQB’s shape and stature, as it does the steering or suspension. It feels perfectly predictable, however, and the surging torque is more than enough to put a smile on your face.
Refinement, on the whole, is very good, though as with any electric car, some sounds you might not normally notice are more apparent than they might be in a petrol car. What’s more, the EQB’s bluff shape means wind noise is quite pronounced at a cruise. The more expensive EQC successfully dials much of this out, partly through its sleeker shape, but also with the help of double-glazed side windows and extra sound deadening.
The other point of note is the EQB’s regenerative brakes. In their strongest setting, you can bring the car to a complete stop just by lifting off the accelerator, while a coasting mode makes for simple, efficient motorway driving. The adaptive set-up, in our experience, isn’t as clever as we’d like, but if you prefer to slow the car like you would normally, you’ll be pleased to know that brake pedal feel is vastly improved over the EQC.
But it’s likely some will be looking at the EQB because the 250 has the option for a third row, bringing seating for seven (the 350 is exclusively a five-seater). In that case, even the rearmost row gets ISOFIX, so while they may not be suitable for adults – we’ve tried the seven-seat car before – you can drive comfortably knowing your most precious cargo is strapped in as safe as can be.
Of course, if you’re going to make regular use of those two extra chairs, then you’re not left with much in the way of boot space. But fold down those seats and things improve dramatically, with the EQB offering 465 litres in its five-seat configuration or 1710 litres with the two rear rows folded flat.
Space in the middle row is adequate even for taller adults, though the positioning of the batteries under the floor means your knees sit quite high. We found there’s plenty of headroom though, despite our 350’s standard panoramic sunroof.
Further equipment includes 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG body styling, sports seats with adjustable head restraints and Dinamica microfibre inserts with red double top-stitching, multi-function sports steering wheel in Nappa leather with a flattened bottom section, backlit spiral-look trim elements, AMG floor mats, and illuminated door sills.
Mercedes claims WLTP testing rates the EQB 350 to return a range of 360km from a full charge (and 371km from the EQB 250). Charging is competitive, if not class-leading. The EQB has an 11kW AC charge rate and 100kW DC maximum rapid charge rate, falling shy of the Volvo XC40 Recharge’s 150kW peak. However, it still means a 10-80 per cent top-up in 32 minutes. Charging at home via a 7kW wallbox is possible in around 11 hours; those with three-phase electrics can reduce that to five hours 45 minutes.
The new Mercedes EQB does a convincing job of transporting the entire family in relative comfort – without any tailpipe emissions. Those who need the extra seating in the rear will need to look at the EQB 250, which is priced from $87,800 as a five-seater with the $2900 seven-seat option. Extra performance and all-wheel drive are found in the EQB 350 4MATIC which is priced from $106,700 but with no seven-seat option.
Ultimately, the EQB is dripping with premium appeal, and while a little more range and faster-charging tech would be nice, the EQB is one of Merc’s most convincing electric cars to date.
|Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC
|66.5kWh battery, two electric motors
|Single-speed auto, all-wheel drive
|10-80% in 32 mins (100kW)
|On sale in Australia:
Written by Richard Ingram