We used to see a new SUV on a monthly basis, but now the new trend is a new electric SUV coming up every week. In a world where internal combustion engines’ days are numbered, this is the only way out for the manufacturers. This week’s tester, the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC is the latest example that is based on the Mercedes-Benz’s GLB platform, which is converted to a fully electric. Like all brands, Mercedes-Benz is working on electrification at full speed to stand out against the competition, and the EQB is a unique small SUV that can technically carry 7 human beings.
The word “human beings” is important here, because it is a compact SUV. The GLB platform is one of the smallest SUV offerings available in Mercedes-Benz’s model lineup, so you wouldn’t believe this has 3-rows by just looking at it. The EQB looks similar to the GLB, so it still has a distinctive design that combines elements of a traditional SUV and a large hatchback. The EQB also has some modern electric vehicle design cues that differentiate itself from the regular GLB.
The front fascia is characterized by bold and dynamic looks, just like any modern Mercedes SUV. The front grille isn’t functional like the internal combustion engine variants, but it still has the Mercedes-Benz logo located right in the middle and a horizontal chrome bar that extends across the width of the vehicle. The EQB’s headlights are also full-LED which are integrated into the front fascia, giving the EQB a sleek and premium look.
The side profile is where things get really interesting. As mentioned, this is not a big SUV to carry seven passengers, but the boxy side profile puts the EQB in a unique spot in a market where all SUVs want to look like a big coupe mainly due to their sloping roofline, but it is definitely not the case here. The EQB’s side profile also features distinctive body lines, making it more stylish yet functional.
The rear end is just as distinctive as the front, especially the taillights are one of the key design elements that give EQB the typical quirky EV look. Just like the front end, the taillights are integrated into the rear fascia, and it looks very modern especially when you see one piece horizontal taillight that extends across the rear end during the nighttime. The tailgate is power-operated and it has a very wide opening to place larger items.
The interior design is more conservative than the exterior design and less quirky for an EV in general. In fact, for an untrained eye, it is almost impossible to find if this is an electric or a regular gas-powered vehicle, and that’s what makes the EQB appealing to people who want to have a normal car experience in the interior. Either way, it comes with the traditional Mercedes-Benz interior design that we would find in other smaller models.
There is a lot to talk about the interior, but basically, if you are coming from any modern or older Mercedes-Benz platforms, this will look quite familiar. There is a great balance of physical buttons and digital screens laid out properly and in harmony. The infotainment screen and digital gauge cluster are just one big piece located in front of the driver, and the driver can control both screens by using the touch-sensitive buttons located in the steering wheel.
The digital gauge cluster is the latest version used in much more expensive entries and trickled down to the GLB/EQB platform. It is one of the most intuitive, and customizable options that contains a lot of information so that you can choose the right layout based on your liking. The 10.25-inch touchscreen located in the middle of the dashboard isn’t located in the center of the dashboard and makes it harder to see as the steering wheel gets in the way. I wish it was further away from the cluster towards the center of the dashboard.
The center console isn’t too big, and there aren’t many cubbies or storage spaces, mainly due to the traditional touchpad also used in other Mercedes-Benz models. The touchpad is relatively easy to use, but it covers a lot of areas, especially for the features where you can conveniently use the touchscreen for the most part. The center console area could have been utilized better. However, the bigger problem is the material choice around the center console, you will find an excessive amount of glossy black plastic trims on the dashboard, which is not the ideal choice if you like to keep it clean.
The EQB shines when it comes to seat comfort and overall adjustability. Both driver and passenger seats come with memory seat function, as well as the same adjustability which puts the EQB in a unique position in a market most OEMs try to cut the corner by offering fewer features for the front passenger. The seats are very adjustable including 4-way lumbar support and thigh support that you wouldn’t be able to find in a compact luxury SUV segment.
The rear seats have tons of space even for large adults. Due to the boxy design, large adults will be totally fine when it comes to headroom and legroom space in general. The rear seats are not as comfortable as the front, and there are no heated seats, which is unusual as you would find this feature in a much lower price range. The rear seat passengers will get air conditioning vents as well as USB ports to charge their electronic devices.
The EQB is available in five or seven-seat configurations. The trunk space and 3-row SUV is a tricky situation as you have to choose one way. There aren’t many entries available in this segment with an available third row, so it’s great that Mercedes-Benz offers it as an option. That said, the 3rd row in the EQB is absolutely for emergency situations or naughty children. Getting in and out is not easy, and small adults can fit if the second-row passenger is nice enough to move the seat forward. Surprisingly, you can place the rear or front-facing child seat to the third row on both sides.
If you don’t use the third row on a regular basis, you can simply fold them down for more storage capacity. The EQB isn’t as big as its gas-powered GLB siblings, but still very good as it offers a lot of vertical storage space due to the overall design. It offers 22 cubic feet (622 L) of cargo space behind the second-row seats and 62 cubic feet (1755 L) of cargo space with all rear seats folded. If you have the third row up, it eats up just about all the cargo space, only a small purse or backpack would fit behind the third row.
Let’s talk about the fun stuff, the driving experience. The EQB is not a fully electric platform, and sometimes it is harder to come up with a decent fully electric vehicle from a gas-powered platform. Mercedes-Benz made it happen with the EQB, but there are still compromises when it comes to the overall storage space, especially under the hood.
Under the hood is where you would find the front electric motors that send power to the front wheels. All EQB models come with a 66.5-kWh battery pack located underneath the floor. This year, only EQB350 4MATIC is available in Canada, and it only comes with a 4MATIC AWD system. The EQB350 puts out 288 combined horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque and is estimated to deliver 227 miles (365 kilometres) of range on a good day. For colder climates, you should expect lower range to be on the safer side.
Compared to modern fully EV platforms, the EQB’s battery pack is slightly smaller, hence the reason for the lower estimated total range. However, it is still plenty enough for any sort of daily driving even in colder climates. If you are planning to your EQB for longer trips, you can use a Level 3 DC charger for faster charging times, it can charge from 10% to 80% in as little as 30 minutes. If you have Level 2 fast charging at home, it can charge the EQB in less than 8 hours, which is more than enough for any sort of daily driving.
Behind the steering wheel, you will enjoy the smooth EV driving dynamics, especially the throttle response. It might not have neck-breaking power figures, but the immediate throttle response makes it very fun right off the line. Although it has an AWD, it sends a lot of power to the front wheels, therefore it is not hard to spin the front wheels if you launch the EQB. When you drive it normally, it allows you to choose different EV features like one-pedal driving, or different engine braking modes for optimum efficiency.
If you want to drive the EQB in a spirited fashion, it handles surprisingly well mainly due to the low center of gravity. The electronic suspension offers a softer ride, as expected from a family-oriented vehicle, but even in the softest setting, the EQB is confidence inspiring and predictable at the limit thanks to the heavy battery pack located underneath the floor. If you are crazy enough to think about pushing the limits further, the EQB would not allow you to fully disable the stability control.
The EQB is a great EV, built on a non-EV platform, but in a wildly competitive EV market, it is hard to recommend the EQB with its mediocre range, and not-so-great value proposition. With the starting price of $75,000 CAD, it is clearly not meant to save money and it is almost $30,000 more expensive than the internal combustion engine variant. However, if you are looking for a fully electric compact luxury SUV that can carry up to 7 people, and if you are loyal to the brand, the EQB might be the right option for you.
|Permanent-magnet synchronous AC
|66.5 kWh – Liquid-cooled lithium-ion
|4815 lbs – 2184 kg
|198 mi – 320 km
|Price (as tested)