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The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Move over Tesla, competition is coming from Mercedes-Benz.

The German automaker’s latest all-electric vehicle is a compact luxury SUV dubbed the EQB, which is based on its gas-powered cousin, the GLB. Like the GLB, the EQB has seating for up to seven passengers – a unique trait for an all-electric SUV with little competition other than Tesla’s Model Y and larger Model X.

The EQB is the latest in a string of new EVs coming to market from Mercedes-Benz. It’s part of a massive commitment to invest more than 40 billion euros in battery electric vehicles by 2030. The EQB 350 4MATIC, the only version coming to Canada for now, is the same height and width as the GLB, but slightly longer, by 40 mm.

Its design is noticeably bolder, too – this is no ordinary three-pointed star. Unique features include Mercedes-Benz’s signature black-panel grille designated for electric vehicles, a horizontal fibre-optic light strip that runs at the front and rear of the vehicle, and electric-blue accents in the front LED headlamps. Light-alloy wheels come in a bi- or tricolour design, up to 50 centimetres in size – the showstopper is a multi-spoke, rosé-gold coloured wheel unlike anything else on the road.

Light-alloy wheels come in a bi- or tri-colour design.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

A 66.5-kWh battery runs along the underbody of the EQB so it doesn’t eat up cabin or cargo space. The dual-electric motors produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel-drive is standard, with a front-wheel drive model expected in 2023. Estimated range is 419 kilometres on Europe’s Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure, or WLTP, test cycle. Expect that number to be lower in North America when those figures are released.

To charge, simply plug into an alternating current (AC) charger or a direct current (DC) fast-charger. Charging time is approximately 30 minutes to go from 10 per cent to 80 per cent using a DC fast-charger.

Hit the start button and the EQB comes to life. It’s refreshingly quiet and serene. My vehicle has approximately 350 kilometres of range when the route begins at the Mercedes-Benz Centre of Excellence in Sindelfingen, about 20 kilometres from Stuttgart, en route to the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany.

Along mountainous winding roads, through tiny quaint villages, and in stretches of Autobahn where speed has no limit, the EQB 350 4MATIC performs impeccably. It’s impressive in its ride and handling. It’s stable, quiet, confident, and gut wrenchingly fast.

From a standstill, nail the throttle and you’re thrown back into your seat. You can hit 0-100 km/h in only 6.2 seconds. Behind the wheel, it feels like a gas-powered GLB and not an electric vehicle. After driving about 100 kilometres, the electric range drops significantly to about 150 kilometres.

In fairness, I pushed it on parts of the Autobahn where there’s no speed limit, hitting the electronically programmed 163-kilometre limit quickly and effortlessly. Travelling at high speeds, the EQB is confident, secure, and well planted. The semi-autonomous driving features are equally impressive.

The adaptive cruise control, for example, can read the speed limit signs along the road and adjust as needed to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead – the driver doesn’t touch a pedal. It’s very handy when speed limits change, frequently dropping 100 km/h to 50 km/h in mere seconds. The system works smoothly and seamlessly.

You can also take your hands off the wheel for short periods of time, approximately 15 seconds, and the vehicle will stay centred in the lane. It’s one of the best systems on the market.

Inside, the cockpit is a carry-over from the GLB, with two smaller screens for accessing everything from the navigation to the entertainment system. Unlike the EQS, the first EV from Mercedes-Benz, there’s no massive MBUX hyperscreen, a 56-inch display that stretches from pillar to pillar. It would be out of place in a compact SUV.

The in-car personal assistant is excellent; it’s easy to use and understands natural human language. Simply use the keywords “Hey Mercedes” to engage. Say “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold” and the system will automatically raise the temperature, or “Hey Mercedes, open the shade” and it automatically unrolls the sunshade over the sunroof.

It performs all commands on the first try. You can even ask how much range is available and where the nearest charging stations are located. The navigation with electric intelligence also calculates and displays the fastest route to the destination, taking into account the range, charging power and the duration of possible charging stops. The system also ensures the high-voltage battery has reached an optimal charging temperature before a planned charging stop.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB rolls off the line at the company’s plant in Kecskemét, Hungary. It goes on sale in Q2 of 2022. Prices are not yet available.

Tech Specs

The EQB has a dual electric motors that produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB

Base price: TBC

Engine: dual electric motors produce 288 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque

Transmission/Drive: single-speed; AWD

Fuel economy (litres/100 km city and highway): none

Alternatives: Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model X, Audi Q4 e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace

Looks

The EQB has more presence and character than its gas-powered GLB cousin thanks to unique features such as a solid, black panel grille with no air vents – unnecessary because there’s no engine to cool under the hood. Stunning, multi-spoke rose-gold coloured wheels on my tester are a showstopper.

Interior

Even though the EQB has room for up to seven people, the third row is a little tight for adults and is tricky to get seated in.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Five- or seven-seat configurations are available. The third row seat is tight for adults. Getting into the third-row is tricky, too. Even though the second row slides forward and backward by 140 millimetres, it requires the skill of a contortionist to get inside. Once there, however, it doesn’t feel too claustrophobic. A dual sunroof makes it feel airy and spacious. Four child seats can also fit inside.

Performance

The EQB's acceleration is immediate and it hugs the road like a cosy sweater.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Powerful, fast, nimble – it feels like you’re driving a gas-powered GLB. The EQB hugs the road beautifully and offers instant acceleration as soon as you hit the throttle. To ease range anxiety, another 100 clicks of electric range would be nice.

Technology

A full-colour display and navigation system with augmented reality displays information for the driver.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Loaded with semi-autonomous driving features such as active lane-keeping assist, active brake assist, and adaptive cruise control that can read the speed limit signs and adjust the speed as needed without driver input. A full-colour heads-up display and a navigation system with augmented reality displays information for the driver.

Cargo

The EQB's boot has an estimated 150 litres of space.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Surprisingly there’s no front trunk – hoses and heating pumps take up that space, which is an uncommon sight in an all-electric vehicle. Behind the third row, space is small – there are no official numbers on the exact amount, but I estimate it’s around 150 to 160 litres. The third-row seats also fold flat into the floor, if extra space is needed. Accessing the cargo area is easy. You can even kick under the rear bumper to open or close the tailgate.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz is speeding ahead of the competition with its brand new EQB all-electric compact SUV.

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