Mercedes’ EQB 350 crossover a fine electric alternative

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Whether you like it or not, and if they will ever really be a part of your everyday life or not, battery electric cars are here to stay. Some say that they will never take hold. Yet some countries and states insist they will. That’s for the future to decide, but one thing you can bet your bottom dollar on, is that electric cars are now an alternative. And one most folk can opt for.

Forget for a second all the arguments, Eskom, loadshedding and the rest. If electric cars somehow suit your needs, they can do an awesome job. We have tested a good few now, just go to our Electric page to read all about them. And that from dedicated petrol heads.


The all-electric outdoor-lifestyle EQB 350

Anyway, we digress. The latest EV to pass though our test system once again made for some virile argument. The pros the cons, the plusses, and the minuses. But one thing Mercedes-EQ’s all-electric outdoor-lifestyle compact crossover EQB 350 did, was impress the lot of us far more than we’d expected. Sure, they are trying really hard to make EV’s attractive, and it may be working.

Basically a regular Mercedes-Benz GLB with an electric transplant, the EQB looks different enough. It’s set apart by a trademark EQ black panel ‘grille’ topped by full width DRL strip connecting it’s darkened by day and blue tint by night full-LED headlamps. Still, EQB carries over that familiar boxy, mini G-wagen look. Yet its super streamlined at just 0.28 Cd.

Ours wore one of myriad inside and out themes that you can book your EQB with. They also get full width LED taillights to continue that EQ theme at the back. Studded roof rails and blue trimmed tri-colour design ‘aero’ wheels and a little army of other subtle hints help cry out, “I’m electric!”


EQB carries the GLB’s fine cabin across

EQB also carries the GLB’s spacious, practical, and class-leading spacious cabin across. It gets the full widescreen MBUX cockpit, but it’s all shook up with über cool colour finishes and unique trim. Its flat and voluminous boot loses a few litres to its gas kin. But nothing to scoff at. It’s second row is multi-adjustable fore, aft and fold flat. Our EQB lacked them, but you can also get a seven-seat pack in yours.

While it indeed boasts a generous standard specification with much of the expected standard Merc kit, there are a few notable exceptions. Ours for instance lacked power chairs up front and a few other bits and pieces you’d need before you add that kitchen sink. Never fear, it has all the driver aids and all that expected Mercedes-Benz passive safety too.

The big interest here is what lurks under the bonnet. 215 kW 520 Nm asynchronous electric motor turns fully variable torque shift 4MATIC all-wheel drive through a single-speed automatic transmission. EQB of course carries over the GLB’s four-wheel independent MacPherson strut and wishbone front, and multilink rear suspension.


Electric motoring has its challenges

Boasting 18.6 kWh/100 km combined energy consumption, EQB’s 66.0 kWh Battery charges up in about eight hours using its 11 kW AC onboard charger. A Mercedes EQ wall box speeds it up, and it will take just half an hour to charge 80% using an albeit far more expensive DC fast-charging station. If you can find one close enough by that’s not already busy, that is. And if the power is actually on. Electric motoring still has its challenges in this part of the world.

Weighing in at 2,175 kg, the EQB’s electric hardware adds more than half a ton to the GLB’s 1,610 kg. Not that you really notice all that extra mass. In fact, it actually runs better than the GLB we already praised so highly a few months back. We’ve come to expect that instantaneous electric thrust as we get to know these vehicles. Still, the EQB performed even stronger than expected.

Half a second faster than Mercedes’ own claims, it pulls like a train all the way to 160 km/h. Then it gently edges onto the limiter, to also spoil a fine 0-160 sprint. To tell the truth, we never really noticed the extra weight, except perhaps in an ever so slightly more ‘brittle’ ride, and under heavy braking from higher speeds. Best of all, perhaps, is that a 423 km ultimate range almost eliminates range anxiety. Even if the real number is closer to 370 km.


EQB shouldn’t make you anxious around town.

Well, you shouldn’t be anxious around town. EQB will likely run a week or more between charges on the urban commute. Even with load shedding. And it’s pretty care free on the open road. So long as you have adequate charging facilities that side of, say a 350 km drive. It’s the best of the smaller electric cars we’ve driven on range, and by some margin too.

That said, a petrol GLB 250 will happily travel 700 km on a tank and a turbodiesel 1,000 kays at a canter. And there will be a gas station that side, all for three hundred grand less investment. That’s just the long road though. If you are more an urbanite, own a decent domestic solar power system and don’t travel too far away from home too often, you’ll literally drive for free.

Horses for courses. And Mercedes has them all. Which leads us to conclude that if you indeed have a penchant for an electric car, you are happy to pay the premium and you like that green feeling, this fine family Mercedes EQB is a most compelling package.


It’s the pick of the GLB Bunch

Price apart, and your circumstances permitting, we’d even go so far as to say that the EQB is the pick of the GLB bunch. – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Mercedes EQB 350 4Matic
Motor: 215 kW 520 Nm asynchronous electric
Drive: Direct Drive AWD
0-60 km/h:        2.90 sec
0-100 km/h:       5.80 sec
0-120 km/h:       7.84 sec
0-160 km/h:       15.99 sec
400m:             14.0 sec @ 158 km/h
80-120 km/h:      3.68 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.15 sec
VMax:             160 km/h
Energy:           18.6 kWh/100 km
Range:            420 km
Warranty/Service: 2y unl./5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R1.32M
RATED:            8
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