We recently drove the Mercedes EQB, the all-electric SUV from the three-pointed star brand. You can see it as the electric-only variant of the GLB. It has a different front fascia, an all-electric drivetrain, and a modified rear end. There is more to the story than just the electric brother of the GLB, so it is time to dig in and tell the entire tale.
When you compare the EQB to the GLB, you will find that their length is terribly close, their width is identical, their wheelbase is also identical, and there is a small difference in height. There is an explanation for all that, and it is the fact that they share the same starting point.
Mercedes-Benz could have gone ahead and offered the GLB’s electric version as one but elected to implement it as a different model within the Mercedes-EQ lineup. Fortunately, the good parts of the GLB are present in the EQB, and now it is entirely silent. If only the rest was as simple! Buckle up, as we are going on an all-electric ride.
The EQB follows the modern SUV trend, albeit in electric form, and that includes a closed front grille, as well as other distinctive features to make it stand out as an EV. It could have been a GLB with a blocked-off grille, but a decision is a decision.
It is not exactly the most beautiful car on the road, but few SUVs can aspire to anything close to beauty. Its distinctive illuminated element above its grille will stand out at night, while its SUV silhouette will help you blend in unless you select wheels like the ones on our press car. They look great, and comfort is magically unaffected even over less-than-perfect roads. Try not to scratch them and avoid potholes, as they are probably worth as much as a used first-gen A-Class.
There is something that we did not like about the EQB. Well, two things. The first is the offset position of the frontal camera, which cannot be unseen. The same can be said about the chrome trim on the rear doors, which looks like it has a small hump as it meets the rear quarter panel.
IMHO, those two elements are out of place, just like the GLB’s fake exhaust ornaments were. The EQB has chromed ornaments above the place where the exhaust tips would be on a regular ICE vehicle, but these do not look that strange.
While the exterior of the EQB is significantly different from what is found on the GLB, the interior is not dramatically different. Sure, there are different ornaments on the dashboard, the gauge cluster is just for EV functions, as well as other minor elements, but that is it. The best part is that it is not a bad thing at all.
The GLB is quite practical as an SUV, and there is plenty of room inside for five adults. There is even the possibility of getting a seven-seat GLB, and that is also possible with the EQB. For some, it may be the difference between getting one or choosing something else.
Do not expect to carry six adults with you across the country (except Lichtenstein), but they may just have enough room on short trips. Leave your luggage at home if you do this, as the remaining trunk space will drop dramatically.
Fit and finish are as expected for the modern models of the compact class made by Mercedes-Benz, which is a good thing. Since the automaker did not bother reinventing the interior here, we get to enjoy a car that still has switches and buttons, despite being an EV. It is quite refreshing not to have to look for a specific element on a screen.
The controls are easy to understand if you have been in a Mercedes-Benz made in the last decade, and still easy to get a hold of if you have been in a modern car before. The materials are nice, and the assembly feels stout. Mind you, it is not like a G-Class or an S-Class, but it gets the job of feeling premium done. There are no econobox vibes here, at least not within the driver’s reach.
It should be noted that the rear seats will find the occupants with the soles of their feet lying higher than in an equivalent GLB. This is also because of the battery, but it is manageable. If the driver is also the customer, it will not matter that much, as the rear seats will probably be used by the driver’s kids, so space will not be an issue there for a while.
The front seats are comfortable even if you decide to spend the entire workday behind the wheel. Your back might be sore if you are already past a certain age, but that is on you, as well as on being seated for many hours at a time.
Trunk capacity is reduced by 64 liters (ca. 2.2 cu-ft), which means about two to three small backpacks. Or two or three grocery bags. With almost 500 liters (ca. 17 cu-ft) available, the trunk is still reasonably roomy, so it should be fine for most, but it may not be for everyone.
We appreciated the decision to stick with conventional switchgear for most of the controls in the interior. Going from an ICE to an EV is a sufficient change for most people, and losing almost all the buttons inside will make the change too much for many. Thanks to the GLB platform sharing, the seven-seat version (not tested here) is a rare option in the segment.
The biggest advantage that EVs made from start to only be EVs have over vehicles with several engine options is packaging, which leads to a different height of the weight center, as well as how well that vehicle will drive. The EQB was designed alongside the GLB, so it involves adapting existing parts to an EV drivetrain without losing too much space. It is the best of both worlds.
We are going out on a limb here, but the EQB feels a bit more planted than the GLB, even though we did not drive them on the same route. Thanks to its lower center of gravity, as well as the fact that it holds most of its weight low, the EQB feels more composed in corners, even though the GLB might beat it in a timed run.
The EQB is more fun than you might expect a five-or-seven-seat electric SUV can be to drive. It was unexpectedly fun, despite it having less than 230 horsepower, which is not that much when compared to its weight, but the secret lies in both torque and weight distribution. Since the batteries are in the floor, the EQB tends to be flatter in turns, thus making it feel planted during cornering. Its big wheels also help with this, as does all the engineering behind it.
It is a joint effort, as the steering does a reasonable job, while the suspension is primarily adjusted for comfort but is still dynamic enough when you ask sporty-sounding things from it. This is not the star of future autocross events, but it is damn impressive for an SUV. The steering is light with a speed-adjusted stiffness that we found satisfactory, and it does provide enough feedback for the given context.
Handling is adjusted to be near neutral at most times, and if you feel understeer in the EQB with premium tires on, it may mean that you are doing something wrong while cornering, as you need to push it far too aggressively or quickly to lead to mild understeer.
Its weight will be felt as you approach corners, as well as when you are addressing a rapid succession of turns, but there is nothing on the dangerous side here. Instead, we have an SUV that drives nicer than many SUVs that pretend to be sporty without making the effort of pretending to be so. So, let us tip our virtual hats to the engineers and test drivers who made this happen.
Thanks to instant torque delivery, the EQB feels more powerful than it is in its paperwork, and it has enough grunt to deal with whatever a normal driver will ask from it. Sure, 1,000 horsepower might be fun, but how much of that do you really use? Less than you might think for most driving duties, and the torque delivery of the EQB is what makes it (and many other EVs) feel quick.
Sure, a GLB 250 will run circles around the EQB 300 4Matic if you look at the figures, as the latter is 1.1 seconds faster from naught to 62 mph (100 kph), but the EQB is quicker from off-the-line to city speeds, and it feels quick enough not to mind the mentioned difference. Also, if you have a GLB driving at city speeds and an EQB beside it, flooring it in the EQB will mark a win for the EV, thanks to its torque.
Horsepower does sell cars, while torque wins races, and this is true here. You cannot legally drive faster than 100 mph anywhere in the world except for certain sections of the German autobahn, so the massive difference in top speed figures is as good as ignored for most regular folks. Sure, there are bragging rights, but those are just that. The EQB drives nicer than you might think and better than it looks like it would.
Since the EQB is a premium SUV from a manufacturer renowned for its comfortable and quality-finished vehicles, it is pleasant to use. The soundproofing is better than in many other EVs, and this can be heard (or not heard, rather) in the form of rolling noise, which is dampened in the EQB. It does the same with wind noise.
The range estimation function of the trip computer is smart enough not to drop dramatically when you hammer the throttle to the floor like a mad person. Some EVs have such range estimations that get “scared” when you decide to use all the power available from your car for a few short bursts. In the worst offenders, the dramatic drop in range does not return to normal once you have turned the car off, stopped for a bit, and then turned it back on.
Not the case with the EQB, so rest assured that you will probably get the range shown on the trip computer. We suggest you always leave a bit of range for yourself before you reach the planned quick charging location of your choosing, just in case something happens on the road, and you need to make a detour, or if there is something wrong with the station. Or if it’s just too crowded when you arrive – being able to go somewhere else is reassuring.
The EQB has a set of paddles on the steering wheel that are used to select how much regenerative braking you want to get. You can drive in D, D+, D-, and D Auto, as the computer displays it. The modes with a plus will let you coast more when you release the throttle, while the mode with the minus will immediately slow down using regen braking only as soon as you release the rightmost pedal.
There are also driving modes, so you can opt for the user-configurable Individual mode, the Eco mode, Comfort, and Dynamic. We spent most of our time in the Comfort mode but switched to Dynamic when we wanted to see what the EQB can do when you remember that you are in a hurry. The steering will adjust accordingly, and so will the response of the throttle, along with changes to the suspension and the regen braking.
One-pedal driving is not present in a distinctive mode, but it can be done if you remember to make a full stop with the brake pedal, like in a normal car. Simply holding the minus paddle on the wheel will not enable the vehicle to perform a full stop with the regenerative braking system alone.
The transition between regen braking and conventional brakes is smooth, and it takes a trained leg to tell the difference. You should read that as good news, as it is because it is a difficult thing to achieve.
We decided against charging the EQB, so we will not present any charging times with this example. Previous personal experience with the EQA and EQC shows that the battery will be charged as quickly as the station will allow it, and the range estimate works well if you stick to the speed limit and refrain from flooring it from every stoplight.
It can be charged with up to 11 kW from an AC plug, while the use of a 400-Volt DC charging station can provide a 10-80 percent charge in just 32 minutes. The WLTP range estimate is 420 kilometers (about 260 mi) in the standard mixed cycle, but our test car started the trip at 364 kilometers (about 226 mi) estimated range remaining.
It all depends on the exterior temperature, driving style, and other factors. After multiple hours of driving, we had an average consumption of 23.5 kWh/100 km (62 miles), with an average speed of 31 kph (19 miles) over 206 kilometers (about 128 mi).
Test drive roundup
The EQB is among the few electric vehicles that are available in a seven-seat configuration, and we appreciate this even if the driven car did not have that option ticked on its list of features. Knowing that it can be had is still something to appreciate, as seven-seat EVs are rare.
The EQB is more fun to drive than it may lead you on at first, but its focus is comfort. In the latter’s case, it does the job as expected. It feels like a normal car in all the right ways, and we love it when we see this kind of configuration for an electric vehicle that does not go over the top with interior gadgets to justify its existence.
Having an all-wheel-drive, dual-motor, electric vehicle from a premium manufacturer is not going to come cheap. For what it’s worth, the EQB is the second-most-affordable electric SUV from Mercedes-Benz, and it starts at EUR 55,420 (ca. $58,529) for the EQB 250, but the EQB 300 4Matic starts at EUR 58,550 (ca. $61,834).
The most powerful version in the lineup, the EQB 350, starts at EUR 61,360 (ca. $64,802). Both dual-motor variants have a lower range estimate than the entry-level model due to the same battery being used.
Once the segment grows, we will see more affordable alternatives to the EQB, but the target audience of this model will not go for a cheaper option just because it is cheaper.
– Predictable and comfortable handling
– Still uses conventional buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard
– Premium finish and look, quality materials inside
– It is easy to get a low energy consumption out of it
– Sufficient trunk space for a young family or four adults
– Apple CarPlay does not work wirelessly, neither does Android Auto; an update should fix that, or an additional adapter might work instead
– Smaller trunk than a GLB, yet still usable
– No larger battery option available
– Quirky design features might not be for everyone
– A higher real-life range would not hurt anyone, but this is sufficient for daily trips and city-to-city driving without range anxiety