Mercedes-Benz EQB review: Seven-seat EV brings premium choice for families
From having no electric models on the market in 2018, it now has six such cars - branded EQ - on sale, with the EQS SUV also due imminently.
That full-size SUV will sit atop the range, alongside the technological marvel that is the EQS luxury saloon. But below those flagships are other, more accessible models.
Models like the EQB, which aims to offer an electric seven-seater to buyers who wouldn’t be seen dead in one of Stellantis’s van-based options but don’t fancy shelling out a six-figure sum for a Tesla Model X.
While the Stellantis models are peculiar van/MPV/SUV mash-ups, the EQB is a bona fide SUV, based on the same underpinnings as the GLB and providing seven-seat practicality in a relatively compact footprint.
Unlike so many SUVs at the moment, the EQB’s styling is unapologetically upright. It’s refreshing to see a largish family car embracing its practical needs rather than trying to hide it beneath a “coupe-style” plunging roofline. As a seven-seater the roof stays flat all the way to the tailgate, giving the EQB’s profile a hint of an ultra-modern G-Wagen, but there are gentle curves at the front and subtle lines along the sides that soften the shape and make it feel fresh.
While it offers seven seats, the EQB is still positioned as a compact SUV and at 4.7m long, it’s the same length as a C-Class saloon but thanks to a long wheelbase offers generous interior space.
Mercedes is open about the limitations of the EQB’s rearmost seats, stating that they’re suitable for passengers up to 5’ 4”. In reality that’s true of a lot of seven-seat SUVs, and smaller adults and children will manage fine in the back of the Merc - on shorter journeys at least. Those in the forward two rows are much better accommodated, with plenty of head and legroom in row two and generous space and adjustment for those in the very front. Fold the third row of seats flat and you’ll have 465 litres of boot space.
Inside, the EBQ is a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly. I’m not a fan of the “more is more” approach to materials and embellishments, even if there is something cool about the illuminated turbine-style air vents. Everything is finished in leather, wood or metallic-effect trim but it all feels a little busy, especially compared with the more restrained approach of BMW and Audi. Twin 10-inch screens dominate the dashboard and provide all the driving data you could need as well as access to the MBUX media and navigation interface which supports natural voice, touch and gesture commands. As well as all the regular connected services, the Electric Intelligence navigation brings Tesla-style route plotting, taking into account charger power along the way and priming the battery for rapid charging to ensure the shortest drive time.
The EQB comes with a choice of two drivetrains. Both are all-wheel drive and use the same 66.5kWh battery. The EQB 300 starts at £53,610 and offers 225bhp, while an extra £1,500 gets you the EQB 350 with 288bhp.
The more powerful model will cover the 0-62mph run in 6.2 seconds compared with the 300’s eight seconds but both return the same 257 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle. The EQB’s performance is remarkably sprightly thanks to the instant response of the twin electric motors and the way the all-wheel-drive directs the power but this isn’t a car for hooning around twisty roads. Its height and weight are always evident but so is its impeccable refinement. Right up to motorway speeds the noise suppression is excellent, as is the ride composure and comfort - far more important in a family load-lugger than its on-the-edge handling.
There are only two trim lines available - AMG Line and AMG Line Premium, with a £3,000 difference. All cars get 18-inch alloys, adaptive headlights, the MBUX screens with navigation and smartphone mirroring, heated seats, a powered tailgate and 64-colour ambient lighting. Premium adds bigger wheels, a panoramic sunroof, keyless start and wireless phone charging.
With a starting price of £53,000, the EQB isn’t a cheap option but it also doesn’t have any immediate rivals. While there is an ever-growing field of electric SUVs - from the VW ID.4 and Audi Q4 e-tron to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E - seven-seat EVs are few and far between, and none offers the same combination of Mercedes quality, range and practicality in a relatively compact package.
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 AMG Line Premium
Price: From £58,110; Motor: Twin permanent magnetic synchronous motors; Battery: 66.5kWh; Power: 288bhp; Torque: 384lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive; Top speed: 99mph; 0-62mph: 6.2 seconds; WLTP range: 251 miles; Consumption: 3.27miles/kWh; Charging: Up to 100kW