While the Mercedes-Benz EQS and EQE – two all-new EVs on dedicated electric platforms – grab headlines, the German automaker is simultaneously upgrading some of its more traditional combustion platforms with emission-free electric powertrains. One upcoming arrival is the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB, which is a compact electric crossover based on the popular GLB-Class chassis. We recently had the opportunity to drive the new Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC in Germany:
- To differentiate the EQB from its GLB sibling, Mercedes-Benz has reworked the exterior with EQ-specific design language. This includes the signature black-panel front grille, new LED illumination, rear LED light band, aerodynamic alloy wheels, polished roof rails, and subtle badging on the front quarter panels. In addition, the charging port is on the rear quarter panel on the passenger side, replacing the fuel filler. Overall, the exterior enhancements are attractive and cohesive – they are well integrated. They give the EQB a premium appearance while simultaneously improving aerodynamics (the electric SUV boasts an impressive .28 Cd.).
- Mercedes-Benz has retained chiefly the interior of the GLB, with the exception of the infotainment operating system. That’s a good move, as the ergonomics and functionality of the GLB were an asset – no need to change something that works. The five “turbine” HVAC vents remain, as does the storage on the center console and doors. The position of the switchgear is also unchanged, but it has been adapted to the various electric drive modes. And in terms of infotainment, Mercedes-Benz has enhanced the system with the new-generation MBUX Multimedia System with Augmented Reality Navigation. New rose gold-colored and blue highlights help distinguish the EV from its combustion siblings.
- Enhancing the desirability of the EQB is its optional 7-passenger capacity, which is exceptional in this vehicle’s segment. Children best utilize the third row of seats, but adults can fit back in a pinch. In terms of cabin configurations, the second row of seats may be slid 5.5 inches longitudinally to increase legroom, and they offer a recline feature in addition to splitting and folding 40:20:40. The third-row splits and folds 50:50. This feature simultaneously maximizes utility and passenger capacity. The addition of battery packs beneath the passenger floor has slightly reduced cargo space (about five cubic feet of space are lost, depending on which seats are folded).
- The EQB 350 4MATIC is fitted with two motors. The front axle features an asynchronous motor, while the rear axle features a permanently excited synchronous motor. Total power is 288 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Power is stored in a 66.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which accepts 110 kW fast charging (raising it from 10 percent to 80 percent in just over 30 minutes). Official range figures have not been announced, but it is expected to deliver 200-plus miles on a full charge.
- On the road, the new EQB 350 4MATIC drives better than its combustion-powered GLB 250 4MATIC sibling. While the GLB boasts a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, its horsepower and torque ratings are notably lower than those of the electric EQB. We predict the curb weight of the EQB will be several hundred pounds higher than that of the gasoline variant, but the additional power and torque delivery of the dual electric motors more than offset the mass – the EQB is quick from a standstill (we estimate the 0-60 sprint takes fewer than six seconds). Peppy throttle response is felt all the way up to highway speeds. Unlike the GLB, which takes a moment for the engine to build boost and the 8-speed automatic to fall into the proper gear, the EQB is immediately responsive – it’s a joy to maneuver through traffic.
- The additional mass of the batteries is concentrated low in the chassis, so it provides other benefits. For example, the vehicle’s center of gravity is lowered, so transitional maneuvers (e.g., quick lane changes) feel more stable with less body roll than in the GLB. And, the weight of the batteries acts much like a tuned mass damper, thereby reducing unwanted body motions and vibrations from the road – the EQB has a more stable and comfortable ride than the GLB.
- We can think of instances where an automaker has “adapted” a combustion vehicle to a pure-EV drivetrain with less-than-stellar results. More often than not, the addition of a battery pack significantly compromises interior space, and the driving dynamics are lackluster. Mercedes-Benz has done quite the opposite with the GLB to EQB conversion – they have built a compact electric crossover that has more power, drives better, is quieter, and is more efficient with only minimal compromise regarding interior utility.
- Based on our early test drive in Germany, we recommend the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4MATIC over its combustion counterparts — it’s a winner.