SINGAPORE – Like the Opel Zafira-e Life and BYD M3e, the Mercedes-Benz EQV300 is an electric multipurpose vehicle (MPV) which is based on a commercial vehicle platform. But unlike the other vehicles, the EQV is almost as refined as a passenger car.
The EQV measures 5,140mm long, 1,928mm wide and 1,901mm tall, with a 3,200mm wheelbase. Its tailgate is almost 1,200mm long, which is thankfully motorised. So are its two rear sliding doors, which can be controlled via switches on the centre console.
The EQV is among the largest MPVs you can buy, sitting somewhere between the popular Toyota Alphard and the gigantic Hyundai Staria. But among electric cars, it is the largest one on the market now. Alas, its height means a number of carparks are inaccessible.
Its dimensions translate to roominess, which is unattainable even to limousine owners. The local variant is equipped with two “captain’s seats” in the middle row, which come with massage functions and can recline like cinema seats.
Adjustments are mostly motorised, except for a manual lever which slides the seats forward and backwards. As far as manual adjustments go, this lever is quite effortless.
The last row of an MPV is usually for children. But in the EQV, three adults can be accommodated comfortably. An air suspension system with adaptive damping ensures progress is smooth for all, a trait which distinguishes the EQV from other MPVs.
Such a sizeable car is usually sluggish. While the EQV will not win drag races, it is eminently drivable, thanks to a huge helping of instantaneous torque.
Mercedes declares a 12.1-second century sprint, but the car feels swifter than that. In fact, there is hardly any situation where it feels underpowered.
Activating the adaptive cruise control is an excellent way to travel. As a pioneer of this feature, Mercedes has refined the way the car responds to traffic better than most. In any case, such a system works better in an electric car than in a combustion-engined one because of the responsive nature of an electric drivetrain.
And because you do not hear the high revs often associated with plus-sized vehicles with modest combustion engines, the EQV comes across as more effortless and polished.
One inescapable outcome of a vehicle as enormous and monolithic as the EQV is relatively high consumption. The Spanish-made Merc averages 29kWh/100km for this test drive, slightly better than the declared 29.8kWh/100km. The sleek EQS450+ averages 19.7kWh/100km for a similar test drive.
Mercedes claims the car has a range of 426km, but 320km is a more realistic distance.
Some rudimentary elements of a commercial vehicle remain. For instance, the EQV does not have a keyless function or a start-stop push button. And you do not get the panoramic screens seen in newer Mercs. The latter is not a big letdown, but the former is. There is no wireless phone-charging either.
But at least there are voice-activated controls, which work well. Steering-mounted paddles which regulate the amount of recuperative braking on the go are useful as well. In fact, all electric vehicles should have this feature.
In the Merc, leaving the system in D allows the vehicle to adjust the amount of recuperation automatically according to traffic situations. A D+ actuates free coasting, while the strongest D-- setting facilitates one-pedal driving.
At the wheel, the EQV is not as daunting as you would expect of a vehicle its size. Visibility is decent with large wing mirrors, and the car’s blindspot monitor helps. Parking is made easier with a 360-degree camera. Even negotiating carpark ramps is relatively stress-free.
The car’s air suspension provides excellent ride comfort, and as long as you do not drive like a rally champ, the EQV will not disappoint. This plus-sized multi-seater’s ride and handling characteristics are commendable, and its refinement excellent.
For something with such a huge cabin with seven seats and seven seatbelts, there is no detectable rattle. And wind noise is lower than what you experience in something significantly smaller, such as the Toyota Sienta.
The EQV’s main downside is its price. At $430,888, it is double the cost of the 100kW Zafira-e Life and 50 per cent pricier than the 272hp 3.5-litre V6 Staria. But from a square-footage point of view, it is a lot of Merc for the money.
Follow Christopher Tan on Instagram @chris.motoring
Price: $430,888 with COE
Motor: Permanently excited synchronous; 90kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: Single speed
Power: 150kW at 4,320-7,320rpm
Torque: 366Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm
0-100KMH 12.1 seconds
Top speed: 160kmh
Agent: Cycle & Carriage