► CAR lives with a Mercedes EQC
► Ed-in-Chief Phil is at the wheel
► How will it fare against his previous car?
Basking in purple neon light, cuddled by supportive leather seats, revelling in the opulence of near-silence, the EQC is a sublime place in which to travel. This is the first of Mercedes' new-generation pure-electric cars, which goes grille-to-grille with the Audi e-Tron (like Ben Pulman's Sportback) and my last long-term test car, Jaguar's i-Pace.
Technically, the Mercedes and i-Pace are both four-wheel-drive zero-emission crossovers, with £65,000 starting prices, circa 400bhp and 0-62mph in around 5.0sec. But they feel quite different: the Jag was defined by its dynamic brilliance while the EQC majors on effortless luxury and dazzling details. Merc offers only one powertrain: twin motors, one per axle, a single-speed transmission and an 80kWh battery pack in the floorpan. That gives 232 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle, though the dashboard relayed 195 miles after my first full charge.
What's an electric car really like to live with?
The EQC line-up starts with the Sport model on 19-inch alloys, and plenty of my favourite features: keyless go, crystal-clear reversing camera and blindspot monitoring.
However, it's wise to spec the £2k upgrade to AMG Line trim to purge the Sport grille, with its chrome nose ring and pinstripe combo. In comes a black panel which better mirrors the bodywork's smooth, understated sculpture. A cleaner palette on which to watch the headlamp illumination show, a dance of LEDs that makes me thankful for the long winter nights. Almost. Leather sports seats, those eye-catching running boards and 20-inch rims also figure.
Slap down another £4645 for the Premium package to get a sunroof, Burmester sound system, MBUX augmented navigation – a camera relays the windscreen view onto the central touchscreen, but annotated with directional arrows – and an in-built therapist and masseuse: the Energizing Comfort system of calming light, aroma and seat manipulation.
Mercedes Energising Comfort: does it work?
This car, however, sports the flagship Premium Plus trim (a further £2250), adding head-up display and the Parking package, which builds a 360º image using three additional cameras, or automates the whole neck-craning, hand-shuffling affair. You also get MBUX Max, with an interior assistant. This uses an overhead camera to work out whether it's the driver or passenger who's going for the touchscreen or reaching across to the glovebox and tries to predict what's needed in terms of the lighting and touchscreen menu.
Premium Plus also brings memory seats with a first-world problem: you have to keep your finger on the button during the repositioning, which tops 10 seconds given the foot-high difference between me and my wife. Add it all up, along with £685 for brilliant blue metallic paint, and you get a £75,295 sticker price.
A month in, I'm still cooing over the interior like a giddy dad with his firstborn. The mix of materials – brown vent centres, silver strakes, patterned panels – feels like the work of Salvador Dali. And those screens – spectacle by IMAX, graphics by PlayStation 5, functionality by Apple – are sumptuous.
First impressions are that the 127mm-narrower EQC is easier to thread through my city than the Jag, the steering's lightness belies its immediacy, and that civility is most welcome.
Roll on six calming months.
By Phil McNamara
Logbook: Mercedes EQC 400 AMG Line Premium Plus
Price £65,720 (£75,295 as tested)
Performance 80kWh battery, twin e-motors, 402bhp, 5.1sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 2.6-2.8 miles per kWh (official), 2.3 miles per kWh (tested), 0g/km CO2
Energy cost 6p per mile
Miles this month 160
Total miles 284