Mercedes Benz, like pretty much every other automotive manufacturer, is going all in on electric propulsion. The methodical transition is fully underway, and we’re starting to see their EV portfolio take shape. We kicked things off by driving the EQS flagship last summer and came away impressed by the experience. That isn’t exactly surprising seeing as any car at the top of its respective food chain is going to be compelling to some degree, especially one that amounts to an S-Class with battery packs in lieu of pistons and connecting rods. We wondered how an entry level member of the nascent EQ family would drive compared to its mega buck brand flagship, and now we have our answer.
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow us to introduce you to the EQB. We’ve already established that EQ designates it as part of MB’s EV sub brand, and the B refers to the B-Class on which it is based. This is the first encounter we’ve had with an electrified SUV from Stuttgart and also represents an opportunity to see how a model that will appeal to a much wider range of buyers might fare.
Perhaps the best attribute the EQB has going for it is that it isn’t weird or intimidating- it’s basically a B-Class Benz but without an internal combustion engine. There are many EVs who attempt to be daringly different with their exterior styling, interior layouts and burying simple vehicle functions in a hopelessly complicated UI that commands a steep learning curve. Instead of moving in that direction, the EQB experience trades on familiarity. Other than some styling tweaks and the instantaneous response you get from the electrified drivetrain, most folks might not even suspect that this trucklet is not indeed fueled by gasoline. That alone should go a long way in making the EQB feel approachable to those who transition from an internal combustion world into an electrical one. Not only that, but it doesn’t take long to acclimatize to living with it as a daily driver. For those dipping a tentative toe into EV waters and want something that leans more towards the premium end of the spectrum, the EQB is a great place to start, especially so for those already on familiar terms with Mercedes Benz.
Premium is the exact word that comes to mind when you climb aboard. This may be the cheapest way into the EQ family, but you might not have guessed that considering all the rich materials and meticulous build quality. Take the ambient lighting, which under most circumstances we aren’t fans of- we find the technology a bit gimmicky and distracting. Yet even we had to admit that Mercedes Benz does this better than anyone else in the industry after spending time in its cabin at night. It’s customizable with a wide range of colours and brightness, and even the curmudgeons in our midst had to admit to how cool everything looks when ablaze. Only the smallish infotainment screen perched atop the dash betrays the EQB’s humble origins, but we didn’t mind much because it offers touchscreen functionality which provides a welcome reprieve from having to interface with the hapless sliders and touch pads on the steering wheel. We wish that this trend would just stop, but at least there are some hard buttons around to control stuff like climate settings and audio volume.
It does not matter whether you are sat behind the wheel or otherwise because no matter the perch your tush finds itself in you will notice the astonishingly pleasant sightlines and outward visibility this car offers. Mercedes is very proud of this, going out of its way to highlight this attribute in their press materials. It serves as a stark reminder of how easy it used to be to establish spatial awareness while navigating busy streets and parking lots and shows how much of that we’ve lost to modern styling and ever tightening crash safety standard; getting into anything else after driving the EQB feels like you’re driving a pillbox on wheels. The only negative offshoot of that excellent visibility is that the generously sized glass makes for an upright, somewhat stodgy profile which doesn’t do the styling any favours. We found the EQB looked an awful lot like the specialized taxis you see plying the roads of central London- sleek and chic it is not.
Another thing the EQB nails: the typical Mercedes Benz feeling of solidity. Closing the doors are met with a satisfying whump and you are always aware that the chassis feels reassuringly dense. This is what quality feels like, folks. Even the window seal up with a distinctive thunk when you raise them back up.
By now you're probably wondering how the EQB drives. Let's just say that it drives. Perhaps an explanation is in order: it doesn't drive poorly nor does it have a feeling of precision or even a soupcon of sporty verve. It sits comfortably right in the center of the spectrum; it offers a neutral pH in terms of the driving experience. The very low centre of gravity makes it almost feel as if it were anchored to the road. Another positive offshoot of the EQB’s construction methodology is ride quality that deftly splits the line right down the middle in terms of firmness and float. It is undeniably comfortable, this electro-Benz.
Overall, driving the EQB is inoffensive on most occasions and even rewarding on others, like trouncing your fellow motorists in the cut and thrust of urban sprints from traffic light to traffic light. There are times when the car drew our ire, the most glaring issue being the wonky brake feel. This is a concerning trend we have noticed with Mercedes EVs, and even the new C300 we drove a few weeks back exhibited some uncouth feel. That gripe pales in comparison somewhat when the conversation turns towards price. Wearing an as tested sticker price of $85,500, the EQB is eye wateringly expensive. To put that into context, we built a GLB using the online configurator (its gasoline powered, non-AMG counterpart) and it topped out, with every single available option, at $48,900. Alternatively, consider that the Genesis GV60 with which it will closely compete is yours for $79,000 with every single option boxed checked. We wonder if the EQB might be priced just a wee bit out of the range of those it is intended for.
Oh sure, we could continue to throw shade the EQB’s way based on its flaws but this would not be the first car we’ve encountered with an exorbitant price tag or one that doesn’t wow with a scintillating driving experience. Instead, we’ll take this opportunity to remind you of the things Mercedes got right, from its low intimidation factor as an EV to the utterly excellent outward sightlines. It is also the only one in its class to offer a third row of seats. No matter which lenses you scrutinize the EQB under, you’ll likely be left drawing the same conclusion we did- that this is a good but not great effort from the fledging EQ sub brand and one that might carry a price tag too dear which some shoppers might find off-putting. If you are ready to make the switch from gasoline power to electric and clamor form something that won’t tax your faculties with a steep learning curve or look strange amongst the sea of workaday crossovers and SUVs in the hockey arena parking lot, you should give the EQB your consideration.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC SUV - Specifications
- Price as tested: $85,500
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front and Rear Electric Motors/All-Wheel Drive
- Battery Capacity/Type: 70.5-kWh liquid cooled lithium-ion
- Total Horsepower: 288 @ 0 rpm
- Total Torque (lb-ft.): 384 @ 0 rpm
- Transmission: 1-speed direct drive
- Curb weight: 2,184 kg (4,815 lbs)
- Observed Energy Economy: 26 kWh/100km