It was that simple for a long time. Ask someone what the car country of the car countries is and the answer is unequivocally 'Germany' in every corner of the world. With a Mercedes, BMW or Porsche you show that you have made it in life. At the same time, therein lies the danger of overestimating oneself. Before you know it, you'll be looking more closely at the bank account than at the global mobility changes.
German brands were not at the forefront of embracing the electric car. At Volkswagen, the scandal with the cheating software first had to take place before the brand started building electric cars. For a long time, Mercedes and BMW had the idea that plugs would not go so smoothly.
And then there was Tesla, which performed miraculous deeds almost out of nowhere: in just a few years, it came up with electric cars that surpassed all competitors in their range. At the same fast pace, the Americans built a charging infrastructure that is still unsurpassed. Meanwhile, other brands are begging whether they can also use the superchargers. Tesla agreed in early November.
In South Korea, too, they quickly spotted the EV trend. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6, which came on the market in 2021, are the temporary highlight. They made a deep impression and once again left the German brands in their prime. Few electric cars can charge faster than these two Koreans.
This puts you in the strange situation that Mercedes is no longer the benchmark. Every new electric car is measured by the Tesla yardstick, and then by the Korean one. That is what we do with the EQB. It is the third electric car that Mercedes introduced last year, after the EQA and the EQS.
The EQB and EQA have many similarities: they are on the same platform and are available with the same battery packs and motors. The EQB will initially come as EQB 300 4Matic (228 hp) and 350 4Matic (292 hp). The more modest EQB 250 will appear later in 2022, with only front-wheel drive and 190 hp.
The platform has not been developed exclusively for electric cars, the GLA and GLB with petrol engines also have this technical basis. Technically, the EQB is therefore mainly linked to the EQA, but externally it is rather the electric version of the GLB. Although the designers have given the EQB a closed grille, just like other headlights and taillights.
We test the EQB 350 4Matic, the top model with four-wheel drive and an electric motor on the front and rear axle. Optionally, you can order it with seven seats. With its 66.5 kWh battery pack, it has a range of up to 416 kilometers.
First the positive impressions: you never have to suffer in a chic Mercedes. The dashboard with two screens and turbine-like ventilation grilles offers a wonderful view. Thanks to the extensive arsenal of cameras and sensors, you don't have to do much as a driver: adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition ensures that the EQB 350 4Matic automatically keeps a distance from the vehicle in front. The system keeps a close eye on the prevailing speed limit.
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If you enter the destination, the navigation system will calculate for you. Where can you fast charge while on the road and how long does it take? The car always provides a buffer of 20 percent, so you don't have to worry about shivering in an abandoned parking lot with an empty battery. Driving comfort is superb, with a silence that is impressive even for an electric car. We also give high marks to the suspension comfort.
However, electric cars only really impress with their range and their charging speed. You want the battery to be charged quickly and then get as far as possible before needing to recharge. This brings us to the first sore point. With its range, the EQB 350 4Matic should be ahead of competitors such as the Tesla Model Y Long Range (507 km) and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 4WD (490 km). It therefore has the smallest battery pack: 66.5 kWh versus roughly 70 kWh.
Second niggle: The EQB 350 4Matic is not a charging champion. You can fast charge with a maximum of 100 kW. Compared to the competition, that's a bit embarrassing. The Tesla Model Y can do it with about 200 kW, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 with 220 kW. Mercedes promises that the battery is charged from 10 to 80 percent in 35 minutes, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 does that twice as fast. In addition, the battery drains faster than you would like, with the EQB 350 4Matic it is virtually impossible to keep the power consumption below 20 kWh/100 km (manufacturer: 18.2 - 19.1 kWh/100 km).
A third drawback is that the EQB shares its platform with petrol cars. This made it difficult to place the battery pack where it is not in the way. It takes up valuable space under the floor. Rear passengers may have plenty of knee room, but because of the high floor they sit with their knees bent. The EQB is optionally available with a second rear seat, but that seems to be made for the Houdini society. To be fair, Mercedes also admits that. The Germans advise against everyone taller than 1.65 meters to sit all the way in the back.
Mercedes has set the starting price of the EQB at 64,031 euros, although we bet that you can negotiate that one euro. For comparison: competitor BMW iX3 (74 kWh, 286 hp) costs 69,000 euros, and a Tesla Model Y Long Range (approx. 70 kWh, 351 hp) 65,010 euros. Compared to this, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 4WD (72.6 kWh, 305 hp) is a price pack with 54,500 euros. This also applies to the Kia EV6 with 77.4 kWh, which you can pick up at the dealer for 52,095.
Nevertheless, we end up hopeful, because in the meantime some commotion has arisen at Mercedes. The EQS, the 'electric S-class', is on an exclusive platform for EVs. The top model EQS 580 4Matic+ has a huge battery pack of 107.8 kWh and has a range of 676 kilometers. Mercedes has certainly not been written off, but it has to go up a gear to become the norm again.
Yes, the EQB offers the opulence you expect from a Mercedes. But to play in the Champions League of electric cars, more is needed. The EQB is only mediocre in terms of range and charging speed. Kia and Tesla don't really need to get nervous about the EQB.
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