2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC First Ride

Electric cars aren’t just for saving the world. At least that’s the message delivered by the makers of the newest luxury EVs – the Jaguar I-Pace is billed (rightly) as a performance model, while the Audi E-Tron was launched in Abu Dhabi with its 100-mph speed limit. Tesla’s Ludicrous mode speaks for itself. Now the 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 follows suit.

Last week, we were invited to a ride along in a pre-production EQC, way up in Arvidsjaur, Sweden. That’s where carmakers go testing, and where lucky customers can participate in ice challenges and drift training on frozen lakes. We got the best of both worlds, joining executives Michael Kelz and Peter Kolb for testing (and a little fun) during the EQC 400’s final calibration.

As in other electric cars, the EQC’s all-wheel-drive system is the result of motors placed at each axle. The front motor is responsible for efficient low- to mid-range performance, while the rear motor delivers high-end performance. They are fed by an 80-kWh lithium-ion battery with fast charging capability. Official EPA range estimates have yet to be announced, but should be higher than 200 miles.

Straight-line performance is impressive, with a sprint from 0 to 62 mph taking just 5.1 seconds. Top speed is disappointing at a mere 112 mph as the motors are nearly maxed out at that velocity. Mercedes could have gone higher, like the Audi e-tron and the Jaguar I-Pace manage, but it would have come at the expense of lower-end acceleration. Range also drops rapidly at high speeds. The upcoming EQC 300 base model will reach the same 112 mph as well.

The EQC is based on the GLC, and the doors and windshield are shared, as are the seats. But the dashboard is a generation ahead, sharing the MBUX tech interface, large dual screens and general design language with the new Mercedes A-Class and GLE-Class.

The horizontal light bar on the rear is an element that by now, unfortunately, others have thought of as well: It’s on any new Porsche and all uplevel Audi models, for example. But Mercedes has come up with a unique treat for design aficionados: There is a horizontal light bar up front, too. That hasn’t been seen on a production car since the early 1990s, and it’s cool.

And so is getting a ride in the EQC in Arctic Sweden … literally. However, we still need to actually get behind the wheel — preferably not on ice — and there’s still a lot to find out about the 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 before it arrives in dealers next year. Stay tuned.