Mercedes-Benz introduces its tall-tailed EQB as a zero-emissions alternative to the GLB mid-size SUV. The EQB 250’s point of difference? Up to seven passengers can enjoy pure electric travel
The Mercedes-Benz EQB has a desirable trick up its electric sleeve. Seats. Seven of them.
While electric vehicles are no longer remarkable rarities, zero-emission ones with three rows of seats certainly are. Yes, there’s been the Tesla Model X, but it’s gone missing in action on the Australian market.
As I write you still can’t buy one; we don’t know when the new generation arrives and its price will be well north of $160,000.
So, step into the spotlight Mercedes-Benz EQB. While the new Tesla Model Y has landed here with just five seats (it’s up to seven in other markets), it’s the EQB that’s filled the electric seven-seater vacuum. Is there demand for such a car? Massively so.
Aussies love the versatility brought by three rows, while the hunger for electric cars is in hyperdrive. This is good timing by Benz.
The price? From $90,700 before on-roads, so you should be able to drive away this seven-seat SUV for under $100k… if you hold fire on the cost options. The three-row EQB is of most interest to us, but there are a few alternatives from launch.
Two grades arrive, both standard with five seats. An EQB 250 is priced from $87,800 plus charges, while an EQB 350 4Matic starts from $106,700 before costs. The 250 has a single electric motor over its front axle, and to add the third row of seats Benz asks an extra $2900.
The higher-spec EQB 350 is all-wheel-drive courtesy of a second electric motor, this one over its rear axle. Disappointingly, there’s no opportunity to make the all-paw 215kW/520Nm 350 a seven-seater.
Australian Design Rules (ADRs) relating to rear weight stymie the twin-motor EQB/three-row combo. A shame, as RHD markets like the UK allow seven to enjoy the increased performance and dynamism of the EQB 350’s all-wheel-drive and power hike. Pesky ADR rules also sees the EQB miss out on a tow rating. In other markets, this EV can haul a handy 1800kg.
The EQB is based on Merc’s internal combustion GLB SUV, but shares its electric setup with the smaller EQA electric SUV launched last year. It uses a 66.5kWh battery to deliver range of 371km in the 250 (WLTP) – the heavier EQB 350 expires after 360km.
Realistically it’s all the range most users need – especially urban folk – but range under 400km is a psychological barrier for some EV buyers. A Tesla Model Y travels 455km and Hyundai Ioniq 5 507km, for comparison.
Benz labels the EQB a compact SUV, but fits into the midsize SUV category below the brand’s (fully-electric) EQC, and is actually a smidge longer and taller than the (combustion) GLC. Both, of course, offer only five seats.
Like the GLB, the EQB’s tall and near flat-roofed design (rather than fashionable coupe-esque styling) is polarising. It’s a bit top heavy, but this allows for humane space for third row travellers.
The EQB’s face features a glossy black panel instead of conventional grille, with a slick fibre optic light band above. It blends into DRLs over LED headlights with fancy blue elements. A curved light strip runs the width of the rear end, while from the side you notice how large the windows are, especially behind the C-pillar.
Even on optional 20-inch multi-spoke wheels (19-inch AMGs are standard) the plastic-cladded boxy arches don’t look filled. The EQB looks neither sporty or beautiful, but ticks the purposeful and interesting boxes instead.
Mighty fine, actually. The EQB 250 performs the neat trick of making you forget you’re in an electric car. Everything just seems so normal and reassuring.
The highly familiar cabin layout – near identical to a normal GLB – helps, so for those anxious about an EV transition, there’s very little to daunt you here. Well, range anxiety aside.
Around town the silent cruising – no engine noise and very little road noise – extend the sense of luxury and cossetting. Get too greedy on the throttle and all that 385Nm is instantly unleashed through the front.
Fun in the dry with wheels pointing straight ahead, but in the monsoon conditions we suffered on the launch drive, there’s lots of wheel spin and torque steer to contend with as the tyres scream for mercy.
Despite a rather tardy 0-100km/h time of 8.9 seconds, the EQB 250 feels faster. It jumps into action in Sport mode, the response enough to raise a grin.
That said, next to the all-wheel-drive EQB 350 (also tested at launch), the 250 does feel the poorer cousin on wet roads. The 350’s 6.2 seconds 0-100km/h sprint scratches a performance itch, and the traction gain with sending power/torque to each corner makes it feel more mature, solid and confident on sketchy wet corners.
Even so, the EQB 250 seven-seater hardly disgraces itself in a bend. But it can’t hide its weight: at 2109kg it’s a third of a tonne heftier than a combustion GLB 250.
But the 469kg of battery is, of course, mounted low down, so the EQB’s balance and handling feels decent, albeit with a bit of body roll.
Adaptive damping as standard brings different drives. In Sport mode the suspension noticeably stiffens, while steering and throttle response improve. It’s not the last word in agility, but it’s a bit of fun to punt along and feels safe to do so.
Typical hunting grounds for this three-row EV will be school runs, suburban slogs and highway cruises. You sit high and the visibility through the big glass makes the EQB feel akin to a large SUV.
In Comfort mode road bumps are well absorbed, and you appreciate the softer damping setup bringing a commendably relaxed ride. It’s a lovely cruiser.
As with many EVs, you can adjust energy recuperation amount heading back to the battery by flicking through levels on steering wheel paddles. An Auto mode uses cameras and radars to analyse the road and the vehicles around you (very clever) to work out the best regen for the situation.
It works well most of the time, coasting on highways rather than sharply arresting progress. The strongest regen setting (selected manually) isn’t too harsh, and you can almost drive with one pedal in city traffic. Sadly, it won’t come to a complete stop using regen.
Benz’s driver assistance package is standard, bringing radar cruise control, AEB, lane keep, active blind spot and plenty more. The lane keep can be a bit fierce in its pull back into lane, but the radar cruise is one of the best in the business.
Shall we start in the back? That third row of seats is the USP of this electric Benz after all. Hopefully you’re not expecting Kia Carnival levels of room, and even Merc describes seats six and seven being for “occasional use”.
Well, they’re a bit better than that. I’m six foot and could clamber into the back easily enough, the middle row seats folding down and forward to allow.
These seats also slide forward up to 140mm on runners (and can recline a fair amount), so there’s versatility depending on each passenger’s leg length.
In the back seats my head was on the ceiling (but didn’t need to be at an angle), while leg room was acceptable with the middle row slid far forwards.
The large windows behind the C-pillar mean it’s not too claustrophobic, and there’s even space for two cup holders between the seats, and USB-C ports in the side panels.
Key for families, the third row chairs each feature child seat ISOFIX points, bringing the total number in the car to four. If you’re a super breeder (or carting the kids’ friends around too) there are five top tether strap mounts as well. The EQB’s a proper team bus.
Middle row passengers enjoy excellent headroom, but the floor height’s raised due to the battery beneath. This means taller adults’ thighs aren’t on the seat base, so it’s hard to get really comfortable on long drives. At least you score air vents and a single USB-C port back here.
Space up front feels really good, and there’s impressive build quality, luxury and tech to enjoy. It feels properly Benz with a nice feel to the switchgear, squidgy plastics and classy wood trim, while the circular air vents are design brilliance.
Upholstery is faux leather ‘Artico’ that feels like the true moo, and if you want to brighten the cabin it’s free to choose beige over the standard black.
Dominating the dash are two 10.25-inch high res screens for infotainment and driver’s instrument panel – both are easy to navigate and with ample custom view options.
No head-up display (it’s a cost option) or wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are disappointing, but there is wireless phone charging.
Other goodies include power heated front seats, dual zone climate, 360-degree camera and 64-colour ambient lighting.
Get used to the MBUX ‘Hey Mercedes’ system and you can control audio, navigation, drive modes, range monitoring, climate and more with voice instruction, while little thumb swipe pads on the steering wheel (to scroll dash menus) also impress after a bit of practice.
It may just be me, but the centre console’s touch pad rather than a rotary selector is unnecessarily fiddly.
The EQB’s packaging is compromised by it being built on the GLB’s platform, rather than being a ground-up EV. There’s no spacious ‘walk-through’ type feel to the front two rows, while it lacks any sort of frunk.
That’s a shame as with seven seats up you’ve only got 130L to play with: a couple of shopping bags and a soccer ball’s your limit. Seven-seaters get a 465L boot with the two rear seats folded, or 1620L with only the front in place. For reference, that’s 95L and 180L under a GLB, but still seriously good family life space.
Options packs offer AMG exterior and interior bits, panoramic sunroof, advanced MBUX Innovations and genuine leather.
Or, if you really feeling flash, a limited run of Edition 1 EQB 250s are available for an extra $9100. That’s if you’re partial to Rose gold 20-inch AMG multi-spokes, backlit trim, grey perforated leather and Rose gold climate vents.
That all depends on how you charge it. Got access to a free public charger or solar power at home or work? If so, free journeys for you – enjoy cruising smugly past servos as fuel prices bite.
Charge time from 10-80 percent is 32 minutes when using a public DC fast charger able to deliver the EQB’s maximum charge rate of 100kW.
The 10-80 percent recharge takes just over four hours when plugged into an 11kW AC public charger. If you have three-phase power at home, an 11kW wallbox brings the same ability.
While Mercedes provides free charge cables, you have to buy your own wallbox. Through Mercedes it’s $1700, with a further $500-$1000 for fitting. Not interested? Just plug it into a domestic power point and you hit that 80 percent charge in 25 hours.
It’s highly likely the EQB will score three free years of public charging on the Chargefox network, as with the smaller EQA EV. Mercedes was still finalising aspects as we publish.
Claimed energy consumption is 16.7kWh/100km, while our test hovered around the 20kWh/100km figure. This was mainly higher speed stuff on the highway or country roads – more punishing on battery life than urban use. Our calculations suggested the WLTP figure of 371km to be trustworthy.
Service intervals are annual or every 25,000km. A service plan for three services is $1625, or $2650 for five years. Cheaper than combustion Benzes, but it’s still a lot for an EV.
For the Ioniq 5, Hyundai demands $660 for three-years/45,000km, or $1684 for five-years. Battery warranty’s eight-years/160,000km, while the rest of the car is covered for five-years/unlimited km.
Neatly fills the space between the electric EQA and EQC SUVs, but the new EQB 250’s compelling point of difference is those seven seats.
If you look to Benz’s petrol-powered GLB it offers similar cabin versatility for some $20,000 less, but we’re not comparing apples with apples.
EVs are hot property, and the EQB offers smooth, enjoyable and a punchy enough electric drive with those desirable green credentials.
A luxe-rich cabin and excellent tech make it look fair value for around the $100k drive-away mark, but the 371km range may not be convincing enough for some buyers. But, for now, it’s the only pure electric seven-seat SUV in town, and a very good one at that.
Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model Y
Need more space than a Model 3 provides? Tesla’s first midsize SUV, the Model Y, has landed in Australia in entry-level RWD and faster Performance AWD formats
Variant tested 250
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Mercedes-Benz EQB release date confirmed to be August or September for EQB250, EQB350 seven-seat electric SUVs
Mercedes-Benz GLB 2024: pricing announced for facelifted model lineup that gains extra features and hybrid tech
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