September 29, 2016

Mercedes has finally unveiled the all-important EQ sub brand and the stunning Generation EQ SUV that will spearhead the campaign. We like it, a lot.

The German company reckons the EQ moniker stands for Electric Intelligence and we’re just too polite to correct them, especially because they’ve revealed such a stellar car at the Paris Motor Show.

Now the Generation EQ, the name given to the SUV in pre-production form, has a 250-mile range. You should be able to order an optional upgrade to the battery pack, too, to take it up to 70kWh and beyond for a range of up to 500km (310 miles). That is an NEDC rating, though, so you can expect the EPA to cut that down to approximately 285 miles.

Generation EQ

It’s fast enough to worry the Model X

It comes with two four-wheel-drive courtesy of two electric motors: one for the front axle and one for the rear. They have a combined total of 300kW (402bhp) and that will propel the SUV to 60mph in less than five seconds. That makes it a real rival for Tesla’s mid-range cars at a competitive price point.

Design wise, it looks stunning and we love the way that Mercedes has kept the spirit of the original grille with a wraparound LED light show that does nothing except look very cool.

It’s the most cohesive and convincing design for an EV that we’ve seen to date, although consigning mirrors to history and replacing them with cameras that feed in to display screens on the doors seems a little bit like technology for its own sake.

Generation EQ Interior, Mercedes all electric SUV

Inside is good, really good

The interior looks the part, too, even though the main dashboard screen is the same as you’ll find in any common-or-garden Mercedes E-Class. We’re still not quite sure why those screens never quite fit the dashboard either and this is not a bodge job to get the Generation EQ out on time, it’s actually company policy.

The touchscreen in the centre console, the constellation of lights in the door cars and the wraparound LED lighting all look spectacular, though, and we even like the Nintendo Wii-style controllers for each thumb that clearly access the key controls.

The vents look to have been replaced with a combined heating and cooling element, too, judging by the LEDs in the center of the dash. Not before time, most cars’ HVAC systems are antiquated beyond belief and it is time for a new solution.

What about the self-driving tech?

Autonomous tech is also included, although Mercedes will only trot out the company line that self-driving technology will be rolled out when it is deemed safe. That’s clearly a dig at Tesla, but we do know that the Generation EQ is Level 4-enabled in terms of hardware.

Like Tesla, it will simply have to send a firmware update to switch on the self-driving tech when it has worked out the bugs out the system and the regulators give the green light.

The SUV is loosely-based on the GLE and while Mercedes wouldn’t give any official timeline on its availability, rumors suggest that it will be available as early as next year and the company did say it’s close to production. It hasn’t committed to a price, either, but sources suggest it will be approximately $55,000.

Seriously fast charging is on the way

As for charging systems, the Generation EQ use the Combined Charging System (CCS) and it is already future-proofed to an extent. The vehicle is set up for charge rates of 50-150kW and the company believes it can ramp that up to 300kW in the end, although it’s doubtful the first cars off the production line will be able to offer that kind of charging capacity. If the company can actually make that work,

Mercedes will offer a wall charger, but it has also released an intriguing picture of a wireless induction charger that sits under the car. There’s no word yet on how much power that will give and how fast you’ll be on your way.

Generation EQ: Our take

Mercedes has sat back patiently and watched the likes of Tesla and Chevrolet take the spoils in the EV war. But now it has joined the fight in a major way and this car is a stunning statement of intent. We like it, a lot, and if this is the flavor of things to come then Mercedes is going to be a major player in the EV sector.

Now it just needs to get this car on sale, as soon as humanly possible. If it can beat the Model 3 to market and provide the right lease deals then it could steal some serious thunder and sales from Elon Musk. We know it’s going to be a good car to drive, so Mercedes just has to get it out there. It’s a stunning first effort, visually at least, and we now know that the EQ sub-brand is going to be a pretty big deal around here.



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