Mercedes EQB drive review: The electric SUV that leaves no one behind at home
- Three-row seating
- Well-appointed cabin
- Mature & silent drive traits
- Lack of boot space with all seats up
- No third-row AC vents
Mercedes-Benz India has one of the biggest product portfolios in the country - if not the biggest - for any manufacturer here. But in its dogged focus on numbers, the Germans have also diversified the lineup with an impressive sense of confidence. So while one can always opt from a plehtora of petrol and diesel-engine options across sedan and SUV space, Mercedes has also been doggedly determined with its electric plans. And yet another example of this dogged determination comes in the form of Mercedes EQB electric three-row SUV.
Mercedes currently offers as many as 11 SUVs in the Indian market and this includes its first-ever all-electric offering in the form of EQC. But while the Mercedes EQC - launched towards the end of 2020 - was a drip test to check waters here, the subsequent models - EQS AMG and EQS 580 - showcase a top-down strategy. What's missing then? Why, a three-row all-electric SUV of course. After all, Mercedes hardly has any three-row vehicles across drivetrains.
Little wonder then that the EQB is landing in hot, along with its ICE (internal combustion engine) counterpart in the form of the GLB. Both of these vehicles may be largely identical in terms of dimensions - and therefore also similar to the hot-selling GLC, but there's a certain sense of electric excitement that EQB promises that no other sibling does. So does this electric SUV hold true to all the promises it makes?
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Here's the first full drive review of the latest Mercedes-Benz EQB SUV:
Mercedes EQB: The stealthily silent operator
The Mercedes EQB gets a 66.5 kWh battery at its core which is smaller than the 80 kWh battery pack inside the EQC. But in terms of range - claimed as well as expected real-world figures - the numbers match up and one can thank rapid EV advancements in EV battery technology for it. As such, the certified range of the EQB is at around 420 kms while we expect the real world range - complete with a packed cabin - ought to be somewhere in the region of 350 kms.
Now while the EQS 580 may silently scoff at the number and brandish its own claimed figure of 850 kms during family gossip sessions, the EQB still has some pretty impressive spec numbers to hit back with. And on the move, the SUV body type and therefore, the promise of space could well be unmatched. The relatively high drive height helps this EV offer a commanding stance and while it surely isn't as quick a sprinter as many other battery-powered options, it is no slugger either. Responses to throttle inputs are expectantly instant and the muted rumble as the auto transmission unit checks the numbers is brisk enough.
|Mercedes EQB specs|
|Battery capacity||66.5 kWh|
|Top speed||160 kmph|
There are four drive modes to choose from - Eco, Sport, Comfort and Individual - but while the EQB offers all-wheel drive - a motor on each axle, it ought to have also had a dedicated off-Road mode like the GLB does. Unless of course, Mercedes does not really expect you to try much off the beaten path in an all-electric vehicle.
But on the tarmac - smooth or smothered with potholes, does the EQB deserve the luxury tag? Where this EV excels enormously is in the handling and braking departments, and the sense of confidence offered even at high speeds is remarkable. As mentioned, it isn't the most eager of EVs but its stability on straights and turns is great, especially considering the three-row set up. It also manages to negotiate potholes quite well with a typically well-engineered suspension setup. Body roll is at a minimal, unless of course, you are in the last row with a manic driver behind the wheel. Overall, it is a sensible EV for the sensible family but does it really pack in all that you have to carry?
Mercedes EQB: No one home alone
The starry highlight of the EQB, apart from its battery power, is of course its three-row of seats. And the focus firmly is on the last row of seats - two to be precise. Now Mercedes may want to keep expectations low by claiming that these are best for pre-teens and pets but in our review, we found that even an adult of an average Indian built has satisfactory levels of space here for a short drive. Hours and hours here would be a strict no, especially considering that there are no third-row AC vents - a big miss in our climatic conditions, but if one must, can plonk onto the seats in a knee-up position. It is just that getting in and out is a mighty big hassle. The second-row seats have a push and tumble feature that opens a narrow passage which is just that - too darn narrow. Another thing of note is that with all three rows of seats up, there is just not enough space at the absolute back to fit anything bigger than a bagpack.
But if you really want to sprawl out, the second row seats are an obvious choice. These seats can be slid forward, back and the back can even be reclined for additional comfort. Three people abreast should be comfortable too and there is impressive levels of knee room and leg space, thanks to the flat floorbed and the carved back portion of the front seats. Ambient lighting, multiple charging options, large windows and a generous sunroof on top further elevate the experience.
The front seats are also as comfortable and the rose gold theme here and on the AC vents come as standard and add to the premium touch of the vehicle. There are two 10.1 inch screens - one acts as the main infotainment unit and the other is the driver display. There is no HUD but both screens are as intuitive as ever even if the trackpad control remains a bother and needs a re-look across Mercedes lineup.
The EQB then benefits from a mature cabin that may not pamper you senseless like, say the GLS, and yet offer a comfortable and connected experience with a SUV stance that's evident as much on the inside as it is on the outside. Speaking of which…
Mercedes EQB: The introvert on the ramp
Much like its drive traits and cabin highlights, the exterior styling on the Mercedes EQB is also quite mature and underlines that new-age vehicles don't need to scream electric outright. While it mostly looks similar to the GLB, as previously mentioned, it does have some unique highlights of its own.
|EQB vs GLB vs GLC: Dimensions||Length||Width||Height||Wheelbase|
The closed and blackened EQ front grille with the Mercedes logo, a stretched and flowing light strip to connect the LED head lights which have adaptive high beam assist, 18-inch five-twin-spoke alloys, LED light strip between the tail lights - all complete a rather elegant profile.
Mercedes EQB: Verdict
The Mercedes EQB can be quite an attractive entry into the world of luxury electric vehicles if you are leaning towards an SUV body shape. While its official launch is awaited, it is expected to be priced at around ₹75 lakh (ex-showroom) which, in relative terms, may mean it is reasonably affordable too.
Much like most luxury electric offerings though, it would almost certainly emerge as an option for those who already have a luxury vehicle at home. For small families, the three-row seating may not make any sense at all but can be a viable option for larger families with reasonably high monthly drive distances.