This is certainly not the first time we’ve seen an electric Merc; there have been many engineering studies and concepts in the past. Although, if you are talking about something you could buy from a Mercedes-Benz India dealership, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is the first. Based on the GLC crossover, the EQC has an all-electric powertrain. And like any Merc worth its salt, it also has an abundance of luxury and class. The only slight deviation is that it runs on electricity. So while on the one hand, it emits zero emissions from the tailpipe, on the other, one might need to be careful with its range.

We took one to the neighboring hill station of Lonavala to charge the winding roads (sorry). Like any other modern Merc, the EQC is an easy car to drive. It is powered by two electric motors, one at each axle, effectively making it an all-wheel drive. Mercedes-Benz India claims that the car’s 80kWh battery has an estimated range of anywhere between 370 and 414km. Considering that the distance we had to cover to Lonavala and back from Mumbai was nearly half of the stated range, I didn’t expect a problem.

But then it occurred to me that the drive to Lonavala is a mix of motorway driving and traversing through twists and turns of the ghats, with a fair bit of uphill climb, which would require more energy. All that was bound to hit the overall range of the battery.

There are a handful of public charging points on the way, so worst-case scenario, we could’ve easily gotten a top-up. As we started the journey, the car felt smooth and unhurried. The one thing that the EQC does amazingly is pootle almost nonchalantly, as if there’s absolutely nothing wrong going on in the world. The drive is largely devoid of vibrations and disturbances, as you could expect from a Merc. Even at higher speeds, the ride around wide bends, overtaking fast cars, slow-moving lorries, and gawking weekend travellers was enjoyable, to say the least. Also, as seen in other modern cars, the Mercedes-Benz EQC comes with paddle shifters. Since there are no gear changes anymore, they are used to help control ‘regenerative braking’— a process in electric vehicles where the energy released during braking (and wasted in many conventional cars) is used to recharge the batteries.

In the EQC, the benefits were particularly evident at the sharp turns and the ups-and-downs in the road, where you rarely take the foot off the brake pedal as you approach Lonavala. One of the significant features of EVs is that despite the extra weight of the battery, the instant torque delivery of the engine makes driving very easy. Thanks to this, the EQC ate up the gradients effortlessly. The light steering added to the driving ease. Having said that, at around 2.5 tonnes kerb weight, it’s still a heavy car. The load can be felt the most when braking. It’s not unnerving but does remind you that there’s a 650+ kilo battery underneath. It also reminds you of another downside— the car’s low ground clearance. The EQC rides well on bad roads, but the moment it hits a pothole or a speed hump, you can feel the low-slung undercarriage. You need to slow down substantially to prevent the undersides from being scraped.

On the bright side, driving in the Dynamic mode brought out the whole character of the car. With a maximum of 402hp and 760Nm, the EQC does 0-100 km/h in just over five seconds (claimed). It would have been foolish for me to check this out on public roads, but I could feel the Dynamic mode transforming the car’s power delivery. It was even more evident when you’d just spent the last few hours trying to extract as much mileage without letting the battery bar drop. The EQC raced from one turn to another, even at part throttle input. A striking Max Power bar on the dashboard tells you how well the car is performing.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC might be based on the GLC platform, but there’s enough to set the car apart from its conventionally powered siblings. The frontal design is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste, but is in keeping with the car’s uniqueness — a step forward from internal combustion engines but not belonging to a future so distant that it seems far-fetched.

The sloping roof of the EQC does eat up some room on the inside, but it gives the car a silhouette that makes it look different from the regular GLC crossover and the GLC coupé. The cabin feels plush, with a variety of materials used all around. In the Edition1886 that I was driving, the dashboard had a fine microfiber finish, giving it a classy look that is seamless with the elegant blue interior. The striking large screen on the dashboard appears as if extended to work as an instrument panel, a feature that is now common on most modern Mercedes cars. The grille on the door pads and the rose-gold vents blend in well. The car sits on wheels that look decent, but in my opinion, the multi-spoke ones on the AMG Line (not available in India) look way cooler.

The horizontal LED strips running across the front and the rear fascia go well with the rest of the design. Driving to Lonavala and back made me appreciate two things in particular: firstly, the EQC, if driven judiciously, can be used as an everyday car without having to worry too much about the range. This is particularly important in India with its poor charging infrastructure. Secondly, if this is the future, it doesn’t seems as dystopian as my social media feed might make me believe.

It’s true that devoid of engine noise, petrol heads find it hard to enjoy the performance of an EV. But vehicles like the EQC bring a ray of hope — that the future won’t be dull, and range anxiety will soon be a thing of the past. This new normal doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it would. The Mercedes-Benz EQC is available at
Rs 99.5 lakh (ex-showroom).