Driving The New Pure-Electric Mercedes-Benz EQC AMG

Mercedes-Benz EQC AMG electric car

Driving electric take a little getting used to. These cars generally offer instant power, breaking can be a little more abrupt than conventional vehicles, while the battery-electric set-up means you drive in blissful near-silence. Then there is the charging element. With an electric car, even one like this Mercedes EQC which offers a healthy 232-mile battery range, you need to plan ahead. The problem is I have trouble in this department, or more accurately I dislike organized routes since the pleasure and adventure is often in the spontaneity.

My Iranian mother would agree with this response since as far back as I recall she opted for the scenic rather than the logical route, even if it meant being a little late. While my father, with a more northern European sensibility, has always preferred to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule. As much as I like my mother’s lively spirit, observing the latter mentality works best with electric cars. Once you get into this mindset — and learn to master working the numerous styles of electric chargers, each with its own app and payment method — then living with an electric car is a true delight. The running cost is incredibly low and it feels good not to be polluting the environment. Even better if you can do all this in a luxurious environment.

The EQC is based on the Mercedes GLC platform


The Mercedes pure electric cars sit under the “EQ” badge, with this mid-size EQC leading the way for what will be a comprehensive family covering the marque’s models from A to S. The EQC on test has twin motors, a single-speed transmission and an 80kWh battery pack. There is 408-horsepower, maximum torque is at 760Nm with naught to 62mph available at just above 5 seconds. Battery range is calculated to be between 232 and 259 miles, depending on road conditions and driving style, with 80% reached at a fast-charger in just 40 minutes.

Prices for the EQC start from around £65,000 in the UK (circa $90,000). The pinnacle EQC 400 4MATIC AMG in Premium Plus trim loaned to me comes to about £77,000, or just over $100,000. It may seem like a bit of a price jump, yet the sporty AMG package offers a lot of extras, a good deal of technology as well as the little luxuries you never knew you needed but certainly make your journeys all that more special.

The EQC design is based on the marque’s ‘sensual purity’ theme for a clear form and curvy surfaces

These includes keyless go, memory seats with massaging functions and a powerful 23-speaker Burmester surround sound system. The EQC cabin is very Mercedes in that there is an abundance of materials and textures to clearly signify luxury. There is quilted leather upholstery on the seats and soft-touch surfaces everywhere else, shiny chrome elements on the mechanical parts as well as piano-black accents. There is a dizzying menu of interior ambient lighting to play with too, including a rather brash purple tint which feels at odds with the otherwise classic premium design theme inside.

The Mercedes EQC pure-electric drive is a highly technical car

The EQC is a highly technological car and it comes with a whole host of driver assist and safety features. There is head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and the latest parking assist package with its crystal-clear reversing camera and 360º image-making through three additional cameras.

The MBUX — Mercedes-Benz user experience — system displays range, charge status and energy flow and acts as a virtual assistant with voice activation. The car comes with augmented navigation whereby a camera communicates your windscreen view onto the touchscreen so the system bases its calculations on the fastest route while taking into account the shortest charging time and pinpoints nearby charging points. This AMG also benefits from the Mercedes special sports grille and 20-inch wheels.

Inside, the EQC offers a traditional luxury setting with plenty of tactile leather surfaces and … [+]

In terms of design, the EQC doesn’t so much take on a radical approach but rather a more subtle expression to electrification. This is essentially the route taken by almost all other major carmakers with their first wave of electric vehicles.

There is some logic in this. Traditional auto brands are naturally terrified of losing their mainstream older customers during the transition process to the new automotive age. Therefore their early designs have been more of a cautionary than revolutionary tale. My only worry is that collectively car companies will become comfortable in this interim phase and see enough profit not to push for real change. Electric drive offers a golden opportunity for design to lead the way in expressing this whole new form of driving and user experience.

The Mercedes Vision EQS concept points to the marque’s advanced future

Going back to the EQC, the design adopts the “Sensual Purity” theme coined by the chief creative officer Gorden Wagener to guide the marque’s visual language. Essentially it translates as clear forms and curvaceous surfaces and with reduced edges and creases. “It is really important for a luxury maker to have an overall philosophy,” he told me recently. “We treat this as an operating system with different interpretations of the theme for our various brands since each one stands for a very different kind of luxury. For EQ,” he continued, “Sensual Purity is highly reduced, simple and seamless. It is the integration of every element.”

The Mercedes EQC AMG offers a balanced first take on electric cars

Overall, this all-electric EQC has been one of the highlights among the handful of electric cars I’ve driven in the last few months. It is not radical by any means and even though the interior — with its traditional take on luxury and abundance of leather — feels at odds with the concept of progressive sustainable transport, somehow it is this conservatism that also offers a little reassurance, removing the anxiety of navigating new technology.

Looking ahead, Wagener promises a more courageous creative approach to electrification. His team are re-imagining Mercedes design and investigating the possibilities through the marque’s Vision concept cars. When I spoke with him last, Wagener mentioned his Vision EQS concept car and what he likes to call the “one bow” design as a flush, integrated theme seamlessly blending the headlights and grille into one panel surface to make the car look progressive. “You will see much of what is on the concept car in our production EQs”. This, I look forward to.

See Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh and Mercedes-Benz’s Gorden Wagener in conversation and read my interview with Gorden Wagener.

I explore the links between design, innovation and consumer culture. For some twenty years my writing has featured in international media including Forbes Lifestyle and W