It has taken them a while, but then Mercedes Benz were never ones to rush things: the long-awaited EQ line is finally here, led initially by the fully-electric EQC crossover.
While the luxury electric SUV market is still in a fledgeling state, car-makers know the segment will be big – pretty soon. That’s why Jaguar has revealed its electric I-Pace, Audi its e-Tron, and BMW its iX3. While only the Jag is available to buy, the rest will be with us in the next couple of years.
For Tesla, having long dominated the luxury electric car segment, the arrival of these electric-powered rivals may cause some loss of sleep – not least for the CEO, Elon Musk.
But should Mr M – and his super alert shareholders – be worried? After all, Tesla’s own e-crossover, the X, has solidified its position as the segment leader.
The EQC’s styling is arguably more audacious than the X’s, with a vast yet elegant grille and a sci-fi demeanour. The Mercedes features fetching blue LED lights at front and back, while the X’s headlight set is fairly suburban.
Side-on, neither car are revolutionary, but the X does have falcon-wing doors – which can open in even the tightest of parking spots – and look immensely cool to boot.
In terms of performance, the EQC features a dual-motor set-up, delivering 402hp and 564lb/ft of torque. It can hit 60mph from standstill in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 112mph. The 80kWh battery unit offers a range of 279 miles, says Merc – but we’ll wait for the official figures before we get too excited.
Most comparable to the EQC is the Tesla Model X 75D, with a 75kWh pack, providing 247 miles of range. It can hit 60 in 4.9 sec too but has a top speed of 130mph. Speedier it may be, but the X only boasts 328hp and 387lb/ft of torque. That said, it should be noted that the 90D delivers 503hp and 487lb/ft of torque, with a range of 255 miles.
Tesla owners are often pleased with their purchases, notwithstanding the odd rattle. The EQC, in contrast, hasn’t been driven by the motoring press yet, so reliability levels are a mystery.
That said, Mercedes Benz was the highest-ranked premium brand in terms of dependability, according to a 2018 JD Power survey (although ranked 14th overall). Buyers should rest assured they won’t be left by the roadside awaiting their vehicle breakdown provider.
So should Tesla be concerned?
It’s not easy to compare the EQC to any of Tesla’s cars – no doubt a situation deliberately engineered by Mercedes-Benz. Looks-wise, the EQX arguably pegs the Tesla, while the latter has an impressive futuristic interior, with its vast touch-screen.
The EQC hits the vacant spot between the 75D and the 90D – and that’s why it has a decent shot at Tesla’s crown. However, Tesla has a unique pedigree in this arena and will be tough to dislodge. And let’s not forget, Musk and Co have other problems too – namely the Jaguar I-Pace and the Audi E-Tron.