First drive: Mercedes EQV
Could the fully-electric EQV see a return in popularity of the MPV? YesAuto finds out by becoming one of the first to drive it. - By Kyle Fortune
The most interesting car this year isn’t a car, because this EQV is based on Mercedes-Benz’s van. That much is obvious from the shape, and, being fair, the EQV being actually based on the V-Class, and that is about as posh a means of carrying people about as is possible, especially if there’s more than five of you.
The V-Class has been around for a while now though, so what’s the fuss? Well, the EQV wears Mercedes-Benz’s EQ badge, that denoting a fully battery electric – BEV in car industry speak – drivetrain. With the SUV-shaped EQC already in Mercedes-Benz showrooms and currently finding homes with buyers, the EQV adds a huge slice of practicality into the electric vehicle mix, for business users and families alike, or just those who value huge space over everything else.
The full-sized MPV market might have shrunk in recent years as a result of SUV sales, but that’s left buyers wanting the multi-seat practicality MPVs bring searching around for alternatives, and upmarket seated van sales are growing as a result. Things like the V-Class, VW’s Caravelle and plenty more besides are becoming the thinking parents’ choice on the school run, and the EQV is the first to plug that genre in to the bold new electric future.
It’s a compelling mix, too, the EQV slotting a 90kWh battery under its flat floor, adding an electric motor under the bonnet and not coming with any compromises in relation to the space it provides. There are seven seats in there, with the front pair echoed by another two in the middle, behind which there’s a bench for three. Even with all those seats there’s a boot, which, thanks to its van origins, is enormous. The EQV is able to swallow luggage for every one of its seven passengers, then, even if you’ve packed for every eventuality, as well you might if you’re using it to carry your kids.
Europe gets an eight-seater version, too, with those two captain’s chairs in the middle replaced by another three-seater bench, but, for now, UK buyers will need to leave a friend at home, or at least be a bit less laissez-faire with their family planning. It arrives in showrooms now, with prices starting at £70,665 for the EQV Sport, the Sport Premium costing £72,895 and the Sport Premium Plus topping out the range at £77,145.
That might look like a lot of money for an upmarket van, but it’s not a huge leap over the far less spacious EQC that Mercedes-Benz also offers. That, and Mercedes-Benz doesn’t seem to have any trouble selling conventional diesel-powered V-Classes with a starting price of around £55,000, either.
The EQV adds a sizeable dose of pragmatism to what’s already one of the most sensible vehicles you can buy. There are zero emissions from it, when you’re driving it at least, which means you can drop children outside the school gates entirely guilt-free. It can be pre-conditioned it when it’s charging on your driveway, setting your preferred temperature, be it hot or chilled, to make the start of any journey as pleasant, and economical as it can be. It’s all incredibly quiet on the move, too, which makes it the paragon of isolated civility, which in today’s crazy world today is a welcome relief.
Think of the EQV as your mobile bubble in which you and your family can move around in socially-distanced, without guilt, and charge without needing to mix with others and it’s about as zeitgeist a vehicle as you could ask for. You’ll not be limited by its drivetrain, either, with that battery and motor allowing a WLTP-tested maximum range of between 211 and 213 miles, which, given average UK journeys are around 15-20 miles a day should be more than enough. Charging takes, from a 110kw fast public charger, 45 mins for a top up from 10% to 80%, while a home wallbox from 10% to 100% will take around 10 hours. Mercedes me Charge allows a single means of billing, from over 12,000 UK charging points, too.
Its sensibilities go as far as ignoring the usual BEV trick of offering outrageous acceleration, nope, the EQV isn’t fast, but it’s brisk enough for what you’ll be using it for, with 0-62mph taking 12.1 seconds. It’ll reach 98mph, flat out, too, which rather makes us question why Mercedes-Benz bothers to fit a 99mph speed limiter to it. To drive it’s all competent rather than exceptional, as you might expect, it riding well, being quick enough and steering accurately. It reveals its weight occasionally with the odd chirp revealing how hard the tyres are working to turn it, but it turns in well enough, regardless.
What’s impressive is driving it on the motorway doesn’t see the expected range figure plummet worryingly, instead that anticipated figure remains relatively steadfast, which significantly lessens that EV constant of range-anxiety. There are all sorts of means to monitor how much charge you’ve got via various EQV-specific screens in the MBUX touchscreen and touchpad operated infotainment system, from a ‘range potato’ outlining the potential range on the sat nav map, to all sorts of graphs to check out your parsimony.
You can leave it to its own devices and it’ll work out via nav data, your destination and the traffic around it the best means of managing its power, but you can do that too, using the differing drive modes on offer. Do that and the EQV’s actually rather enjoyable. It’s driving as management, every downhill a possibility to try to achieve a percentage gain in battery power by regenerating, or motorway runs an opportunity to glide along at speed using no energy at all.
To do all that you can choose between regeneration settings via the steering wheel paddles, these changing the regeneration level rather than any gears, allowing anything from a zero-regeneration mode for gliding around at speed, to a heavy regeneration mode that’s forceful enough to allow you to drive it around using a single pedal, that particularly useful in stop-start traffic. We’d avoid the Eco mode, though, which is so determined to save battery power it slows its performance to turn the EQV into a rolling roadblock. Leave it in Comfort and ignore Sport mode and you’ll be just fine, though.
There’s all Merc’s superb build quality and materials inside, while there’s a plethora of standard safety and assist systems, too. If you want the 360 degree parking camera and electric memory front seats as standard equipment – you do – you’ll need the Sport Premium model and up, those two upgrades it brings certainly worth the additional outlay. All come with all the charging kit you need, too, with all the necessary cables and onboard chargers – not always the case with EVs - and even a year’s worth of rapid charging on the Ionity fast-charging network.
A big, battery powered multi-seater might not sound appealing, but the EQV’s qualities transcend it obvious sensibilities to make it a hugely desirable vehicle.
Model: Mercedes-Benz EQV
Price from - £70,665-£77,145
Engine: Asynchronous electric motor and lithium-ion high voltage 90kWh battery with a single-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive
Torque: 270lb ft
0-62mph: 12.1 seconds
Max speed: 98 mph
WLTP Fuel consumption: WLTP electric range 211-213 miles
WLTP CO2: 0g/km