What is it?
If you want – nay, need – an electric car with seven seats, your options have so far been pretty limited. And rather expensive. A Tesla Model X is a bold statement piece with a six-figure price tag, while the Mercedes-Benz EQV is a big old electric people carrier that is – and there’s no way to soften this – a £70,000-plus van.
Oh, and talking of vans, you’ve also got the option of the Citroen e-SpaceTourer, Peugeot e-Traveller, and Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life siblings, or the similarly boxy Peugeot e-Rifter, Citroen e-Berlingo or Vauxhall Combo-e Life.
Advertisement – Page continues below
So the Mercedes-Benz EQB is something (for now, at least) fairly unique. It’s an electric seven-seater that looks more like a conventional crossover and starts at a vaguely palatable price. Though in the world of premium EVs, these things are all relative: until cheaper, front-wheel-drive versions land, your entry point is a whisker over £53,000.
AND WHAT DOES THAT GET ME?
If you’ve revised your Mercedes range algebra then you’ll have worked out that this is a fully electric version of the GLB soft-roader. Which in turn is a mash-up of the GLA crossover and B-Class blobby hatchback. All of which are based upon the same architecture as the A-Class which continues to dominate the UK sales charts. In short, its core is borrowed from the cheapest Benz on sale, but that also makes it a bestseller at its very heart.
Currently there are two versions. Both use a 66.5kWh battery and a pair of electric motors for all-wheel drive. The EQB 300 produces 225bhp while the EQB 350 peaks at 288bhp. Both offer a claimed range of around 250 miles, so expect something south of 200 miles in the real world of ferrying children around with the heating on.
Charging isn’t the quickest available these days, topping out at 100kW, though Mercedes tells us you can zip from 10 to 80 per cent in a touch over half an hour, while charging to 100 per cent from a typical residential wall box will be an overnight job.
Advertisement – Page continues below
WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE?
In Britain, we’ll only get the EQB with seven seats – with three in the middle row and two smaller ones out back – while European buyers will get a five-seat option.
It operates just like any other little Merc, with Park, Drive and Reverse selected from a stalk on the right hand of the steering wheel and an electric parking brake clumsily down by your knee. The main difference, besides the whoomph of zero-rev torque from a standstill, is the fact you’ve three levels of brake regen to choose from via paddles on the steering wheel.
There’s a bunch of driving modes too; they cycle through Eco, Comfort and Sport to fiddle with powertrain response and – if you’ve ticked the right boxes – suspension softness. But c’mon, this is a plug-in family car. You want everything in its simplest and softest form, for the alternative involves nuking your range figure or jiggling mushed-up Freddos out of the kids.
Our choice from the range
Mercedes-BenzEQB 300 4Matic 168kW AMG Line 66.5kWh 5dr Auto£52,090
What’s the verdict?
“There aren’t many other ways into a new seven-seat EV. The EQB has a USP and runs nicely with it”
The EQB does a lot right. It’s the first relatively attainable electric seven-seater in the mainstream that isn’t a Stellantis van. It goes briskly, drives tidily and charges reasonably quickly. Those sold on screen inches and rose-gold details will pore over the interior, although it’s not without its foibles.
We suspect the EQB’s USP will be short-lived, though, and as soon as cheaper EVs with a similar seat count show up on the market, the Mercedes may be made to look a bit pricey and try-hard. But if you just can’t wait to ferry your kids around in smug, efficient silence, it’s a safe bet. Much as we prefer the GLB to the GLA, the more practical sibling of the EQA is more obviously appealing too.
Audi Q4 e-tron
£41,990 – £65,015
Continue reading: Driving