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The Mercedes EQV is the planet-saving People Carrier, a full EV that can carry up to seven folk in real Zero Emissions luxury. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
The Mercedes EQV brings full-battery power to the super-large MPV segment. This is the People Carrier of the future, with zero emissions and a 213 mile WLTP-rated range. There are few practical compromises with the battery installation and quality levels are way higher than you'd expect from a van-derived product. It's not inexpensive though.
In a world of electrified Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins, you might not think the idea of an electric Mercedes V-Class MPV too significant. We disagree. It's models like this that will help drive a grass-roots change to electric driving, running families and business folk around and, as they do, underlining just why full-battery motion is now completely sustainable option for modern transport. So let's welcome warmly this model, the Mercedes EQV. It's based on the V-Class, which in case you weren't aware, is the Stuttgart brand's super large People Carrier, based almost entirely on its mid-sized Vito van. The recent emergence of an e-Vito variant made the launch of this EQV inevitable and this MPV, like its LCV counterpart, manages to make the switch to full electrification with very few practical compromises. To start with, it's probably going to be quite a rare sight, given the prices start at around £70,000, about £20,000 more than an equivalent combustion-engined V-Class. But with a decent annual mileage, even that premium could make sense for some business operators and forward-thinking families.
Here, a 100kWh lithium-ion battery develops a 201hp total output with 362Nm of torque and can offer a claimed driving range of up to 213 miles between charges. As with most EVs, the top speed is rather limited - in this case to 98mph. Otherwise, this EQV will be much like any other V-Class to drive. Numerous engineering changes differentiate this Mercedes MPV from the Vito commercial model it's based on, alterations having been made to such things as the spring rates, support bearings, strut towers, dampers, anti-roll bars and bearings to create more car-like standards of ride and handling. Most importantly, standard 'Agility Control' adaptive suspension has been added in, a set-up able to tweak the damping to suit road conditions. It's not enough to make this feel like an S-Class luxury saloon - especially not if you're in a version of this model fitted with the largest 19-inch wheel rim size - but given what the German engineers had to work with, the supple, well-controlled quality of the ride is very commendable. And there's certainly a much lighter, airier feel than you'd get in an S-Class - or any other boardroom-level limo come to that.
Visually, the EQV looks very little different to a standard V-Class, the main difference being an EQC-like black front panel in place of the usual front grille. And bespoke 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels. This model can only be had with the biggest 'Extra Long' V-Class body shape - and only with 7 seats - 2 seats up front and in the middle, then a 3-person rear bench at the very back. It has to be said that the V isn't a bad looking thing for a big box. The headlights are fashionably smeared back and even the slab sides have had some swage lines and shape built into them. You don't buy a V-Class for its sexy styling though. You buy it for its space and solidity. Mercedes has clearly worked at improving the look and feel of the cabin, with fine Nappa leather finishes available and a simple but extremely elegant dashboard that has more than a hint of S-Class about it. In this regard at least, it's like no van you've ever seen before. There are no interior packaging compromises with the battery installation. Very little effort is required to move the individual seats and the middle bench fore and aft or to position the seats in the quick release seat rails. There's also a standard separately opening rear windscreen which is handy in tight parking spaces.
Expect pricing around £15,000 above what you'd pay for an equivalent combustion-engined V-Class. The figures in question from launch started at just over £70,000 the EQV 300 Sport. There's a premium to pay of just over £2,000 more for Sport Premium trim and the top Sport Premium Plus version from launch was priced at just over £77,000. The EQV features the brand's MBUX infotainment system with EQ-specific features, including important information such as charging current and energy flow. 'Mercedes me Charge' can also be accessed via MBUX which provides access to charging points across Europe without the need for multiple accounts and RFID cards. 'Mercedes me Charge' comprises multiple charging networks, including Polar which is the UK's largest charging network. EQ-optimised navigation can also be set via MBUX, which bases its calculation on the fastest route taking into account the shortest charging time. It also informs the driver of nearby charging points. The Sport model line comes as standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED Multibeam LED headlights, the brand's 'Driving Assistance' safety package. There's also the 'MBUX with Navigation Plus' infotainment system. And a reversing camera, electric sliding doors, an easy-pack powered tailgate, ambient lighting and an eight metre charging cable. For another £2,230, Sport Premium adds a 360-degree camera, a Memory package, an EQV Exterior Design package a 'Table package' and smartphone integration. At £77,145, the range-topping Sport Premium Plus includes a Burmester surround sound system, Airmatic suspension; and 18-inch wheels.
As mentioned earlier, the EQV uses a 100kWh lithium-ion battery that can offer a claimed driving range of up to 213 miles between charges. The length of time those charges take will vary as usual on the type of charging point you visit. With an AC charging 11kW charge point, which is what you'd have with a garage wallbox and is the kind of thing you'd find at most public charging stations, your charging time from empty to full in an EQV would be around 10 hours. Find yourself a fast charging station though, with a DC charging 110kW supply, and your EQV could be charged from 10-80% in just 45 minutes. Should you miss a planned charging stop, an active range monitoring system will activate in your EQV to try and ensure safe completion of your journey. This is assisted by an incorporated 'E+' driving mode, which optimises the vehicle's parameters to maximise the range. Residual values ought to stand up well, as this car pioneers a new market niche, namely that for full-sized People Carrier EVs. Here, you get loads of space, a properly club-class feel and zero emissions. That sort of formula sounds as if it will have legs and the efficiency measures future proof it to a reasonable degree.
Will the EQV catch on? You might wonder, given the prices being asked here. And the practical charging limitations. Mind you, 500 miles in a day could be achievable with careful lunch break charging from taxi driver and limousine operators. And of course, the further you drive, the bigger the chance you'll be able to recover initial up-front asking price investment, particularly if you regularly drive in the London Congestion Charge or Ultra-low Emission zones. Few would have guessed Mercedes would base its second all-electric model on the humble V-Class, but this is a comprehensively engineered and very forward-thinking product. In a decade or so, a combustion-engined People Carrier of this size will be very rare indeed. And when that happens, we'll look back at the EQV as being the originator of a very significant trend.