Mercedes-Benz EQB EV (X243) - Class of one 7-seater EV, but does it actually work?
Arvind · Feb 26, 2023 08:00 AM
Sat behind the wheel of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB 350, cruising down the road at a calm and quiet 90 km/h, a thought comes to mind – this car actually works – and it’s perhaps the only time I’ve ever felt that while driving an EV.
In just over 10 years, EVs have gone from fringe rich man’s plaything (think original 2012 Tesla Model S) to the ‘inevitable’ future of mobility. And it has taken half as long for the market to get saturated with every form and size of an inoffensive EV model that complements your every 'lifestyle need' and tacitly acknowledges a moral posturing of doing it for the environment.
However, the 2023 EQB isn't just another 'Russian doll' EV SUV, it is the only 7-seater (or more aptly a 5+2 seater) EV on sale, and so it rises above the cursory EV positives and delivers on quite something else: purpose and practicality. Thus, is the EQB just a product of frivolous irony, or utter brilliance? Let's take a closer look.
To answer the above, let’s get some background. First previewed in July 2022 – the Mercedes-Benz EQB is the 7-seater EV version of the regular Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV.
Thus, the EQB 350 is unique not just because it's a 7-seater SUV, but it also has a similarly priced petrol-powered counterpart (GLB 250: RM 333k): making for a proper apple-to-apple comparison between an EV and an ICE vehicle.
Offered here in just one variant, the EQB 350 4 Matic, is powered by two electric motors one on each axle, offering electric all-wheel drive (eAWD) capability.
Matching two powerful motors: an asynchronous motor on the front axle and a permanent magnet synchronous motor on the rear axle – the powertrain provides a combined 292 PS and 520 Nm.
Juicing the motors is a 66.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, housed in several modules and centrally mounted within the vehicle floor. The EQB is underpinned by the MFA2 platform, the same as the Mercedes-Benz EQA.
Performance figures read 6.2 seconds for the 0-100 km/h dash, onto a top speed of 160 km/h. With the batteries fully charged, the EQB 350 is claimed to have a driving range of between 388 km to 423 km (WLTP cycle) and consumes between 18.1 to 19.4 kWh/100 km.
In terms of charging, the EQB 350 is capable of 11 kW AC charging and DC charging of up to 100 kW. At a sufficiently fast DC charger, the EQB 350 with go from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in 32 minutes.
(X243) Mercedes-Benz EQB EV specification
11 kW AC / 100 kW DC
388 km to 423 km
4-year / unlimited mileage (Battery: 8-year / 160k km)
The EQB 350 is also supplied with an impressive array of standard equipment, that includes LED high-performance headlights, 19-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels, Artico leather and Cupertino fabric upholstery, and a Multifunction steering wheel wrapped in Nappa leather.
Elsewhere, the EQB 350 is also equipped with ambient lighting, backlit ‘spiral look’ trim elements, twin 10.25-inch MBUX touchscreen infotainment and instrument cluster, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
In terms of safety, the EQB 350 is equipped with 7 airbags, ABS, VSC, brake assist, and the Driving Assistance Package which includes AEB, LKA, ACC, Active Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and a 360-degree camera.
Being the EV equivalent of the GLB, the EQB 350 is almost identical on the outside in terms of overall proportions save the length - the EQB is 50 mm longer at 4,684 mm versus the GLB's 4,634 mm. The EQB also weighs 470 kgs more at 2,175 kg (GLB 250: 1,705 kg) courtesy of its EV powertrain.
Proportions aside, the EQB swaps out certain design elements of GLB for EQ-specific items. The main difference is the black panel grille and the continuous light strip that merges with the DRLs. It's much the same around the back with a taillight light strip that runs across the rear fascia.
Besides this, the EQB 350 also features chrome roof rails and a different 19-inch wheel design, shod in EV-specific 235/50 R19 tyres - similar in size to the GLB.
Taken as a whole, the EQB isn't the prettiest Mercedes-Benz you'll ever see, perhaps because it doesn't wear the EQ front grille quite so well as other EQ models - being flat and black, the EQ grille crucially hides body creases that are found on the GLB, which gives it a stronger identity.
That said, things are nicer at the rear quarters where the EQB 350 looks sophisticated courtesy of the rear design and snazzy light signature.
Whilst the EQB may look plain Jane on the outside, it's quite superb on the inside.
The overall interior architecture is familiar, but the EQB's interior appointments, specifically the rose gold AC vents and metallic dashboard trim are beautifully finished and look even better at night once lit by the EQB's ambient lighting.
The treatment is carried onto the seats as well, where the seat centres are rose gold, contrasting the black leather outer edges as part of the Electric Art trim package.
With tall windows and superb visibility, the EQB 350 makes for an extremely pleasant and comfortable interior for even younger occupants over longer journeys.
Complimenting that ambient space, note that the EQB 350 has sacrificed very little cabin space, especially in terms of rear seating posture, compared to the GLB - otherwise a common drawback of EVs that have their batteries under the floor.
Legroom in both the first and second rows is pretty much the same as the GLB. However, the GLB's floor in the third row is a few precious centimetres lower than the EQB 350. So whilst I could still contort my (180cm) body to fit into the third row of the GLB, I can't in the EQB.
That said, the third row should be decently comfortable for smaller occupants, under 160 cm.
Get behind the wheel and almost instantly, everything becomes familiar. It's fairly easy to get into a comfortable seating position and all relevant switchgear is within easy reach. The seats are adequately supportive and the steering wheel is in typical Mercedes fashion, simply superb, making the EQB a great daily driver.
Within minutes of driving, the EQB proves to offer a very calm and cohesive driving experience, the cabin is as you would expect very quiet up until 100 - 110 km/h. With no engine to hum away, it's mostly wind noise that intrudes at higher speeds, although I wouldn't consider this to be excessive.
With that said, on the majority of roads, the EQB isolates its passengers very well from the outside, delivering impressive numbers in our regular noise level test:
(X243) Mercedes-Benz EQB EV Noise level
On the move, it's much the same - the EQB power delivery is superbly refined. With a throttle pedal that allows for easy modulation, it's very easy to control your rate of acceleration and progress.
Response as you would expect is pretty instantaneous, with 292 PS and 520 Nm on tap, the EQB gets up to speed with little fuss, however, it is never intimidating, having no sudden surge of power that is common to some EVs.
Of course, jabbing the throttle for instant EV torque is fun if you're goofing around or trying to impress your friends, but on the daily trot, what you want is smoothness and predictability, thus and in true Mercedes-Benz fashion the EQB delivers on all accounts.
Additionally, the EQB also provides a great sense of balance as it is primarily driven by the rear motor under low throttle loads, thus it even beats the GLB in terms of offering a very cohesive driving demeanour.
There are four levels of recuperation, in its default mode, this feels very much like engine braking in an internal combustion car, tap on the right pedal once into '+' mode to allow for seamless highway coasting, whereas the '-' mode maximises recuperation for driving in the city. There is also the 'Auto' mode (right paddle long press) which lets the EQB decide how much recuperation is needed based on GPS and topographical data.
In using the 'Auto' mode, I found recuperation levels to be slightly unpredictable, in most cases due to road inclines, in cases where I would expect more recuperation, like going downhill, recuperation would be less and vice versa, so in most cases, I was happy to toggle between the '-' mode in the city and leave in default mode once at higher speeds.
Note though that the EQB does not offer 'one-pedal' driving that dictates the car come to a complete stop once you get off the accelerator. One-pedal driving is only available on the newer 'EVA platform' models, notably the Mercedes-Benz EQE and EQS. The EQB still drives conventionally, creeping forwards in traffic at low speeds.
Cruising down the pothole-ridden roads of Petaling Jaya, I found the EQB to soak up smaller bumps and road irregularities rather well. It does get caught out sometimes on larger dips in the road where the body can start to feel a bit roly-poly given its tall 'bread van' stature but these instances don't happen very often.
Throw the EQB into a complex of corners and it will reveal its weight a bit more. Whilst the steering is decently communicative and it's pretty easy to guide the EQB through a bend, you tend to get a sense this isn't what the EQB is designed to do.
With that said, there is adequate mechanical grip from the tyres and the brakes, both in feedback and stopping power, are pretty potent.
Mercedes-Benz advertises a range of 388 km to 423 km (WLTP), which is comparable to the Volvo XC40 Recharge claim of 418 km, although the XC40 is equipped with a larger 78 kWh battery. With the battery topped off at 100 percent, the EQB predicted an estimated range of 390 km.
Having completed our regular 'fuel economy' test – the EQB consumed 22.93 kWh for an exact 101 km of travel, split equally between highway and city driving, using up approximately 30 percent of the battery.
The EQB returns an impressive overall efficiency of 22.7 kWh/100 km, beating the XC40's 25.0 kWh/100 km, and coming in close behind the EQA with 22.2 kWh/100km despite being larger and having two motors.
Thus, it's entirely possible for the EQB to offer up to 300 - 320 km of range with sensible driving with a full charge from its 66.5-kWh of usable battery capacity
In explaining why I believe the EQB 'actually works' - we have to take into account several experiences with recent EVs WapCar has tested, and the positives and negatives they all have.
For example the Kia EV6 - an achingly beautiful EV that's lovely to drive, but due to the relatively high floor, rear seating isn't great. Next, the Volvo XC40 Recharge: sublime power and looks, but it doesn't drive cohesively - especially in high recuperation modes, and finally the Mazda MX-30: charming, easy to drive, but with a 150+ km real-world range, it's a sexy urban runabout, and not much else.
After spending some time driving the EQB and you start to wonder how well the entire package comes together - it's nice to drive, practical, has just the right amount of power, and with good range: very usable as well.
Thus, what you have with the EQB, in my opinion, is a 5+2 seater EV, fit for purpose, that performs just as well as its ICE-powered counterpart and is competitively priced. Now that's not irony at all, that's progress.
Arvind can't remember a time when he didn't wheel around a HotWheels car. This love evolved into an interest in Tamiya and RC cars and finally the real deal 1:1 scale stuff. Passion finally lead to formal training in Mechanical Engineering. Instead of the bigger picture, he obsesses with the final drive ratio and spring rates of cars and spends the weekends wondering why a Perodua Myvi is so fast.