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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB First Drive: ICE-Free

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB | Photo: B.Charette
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Benoit Charette
Compact SUV with two engines offers a maximum range of 365 km
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Exterior design
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Exterior design | Photo: B.Charette

Stuttgart, Germany - The pandemic has delayed the progress of several models, including electric ones. One of them is the new product to be released under the Mercedes-Benz EQ banner. 

The EQB, which was first presented to the media last year, will finally hit dealerships in December. Mercedes has already warned that the quantity will be minimal at first and that they hope to increase the pace of production and deliveries in 2023.

An electric GLB
The EQB is based on the same platform as the GLB. An attentive look at its lines tells you that Mercedes has pushed the wheels to the four corners to stretch the overall length a bit. The windshield offers less wind resistance, and you have a smooth aluminum underbody. 

The gasoline model's grille has been replaced by a smooth panel with a light bar that extends across the nose and rear like the electric models in the family. The wheels are also unique to the EQB models.

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2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Profile
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Profile | Photo: B.Charette

Two versions
When it arrives at dealerships in the coming days, the only version available will be the 350 4 Matic model. Its base price is set at $75,700. That means you don't qualify for any subsidies. 

This model provides a total of 288 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, which helps it reach 100 km/h in as little as 6.2 seconds. Preliminary EPA tests in the U.S. indicate a range of 365 km, which is nothing to celebrate, really, considering that many rivals now rub up against 400 km or more. 

Those who want a little more range and a more affordable price can wait until next year, when the 250 version makes its debut. That single-motor EQB will offer 188 hp and an expected range of 400 km. Pricing for it has not been announced, but Mercedes has said that the 250 version will be more affordable. 

Our 350 model under test has a 400-volt electric architecture, which allows them to charge at a maximum of 100 kW, taking the battery from 10 percent to 80 percent in 32 minutes on a DC fast charger. 

On a 240-volt Level 2 charger, they can go from 10- to 100-percent charge in your garage in 7 hours and 45 minutes.

Front of 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB
Front of 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB | Photo: B.Charette

Exemplary handling
Our test day was spent behind the wheel of a 350 4 Matic version. The first thing we noticed was how quiet it was. The only noise that comes through the cabin is the rolling of the tires on the road. 

For many the EQB's size will be just right - neither too small nor too big, spacious enough for families but nimble in cities. Plus, the drive doesn’t feel heavy despite the EV’s considerable weight. Chalk that up to a lower centre of gravity due to the battery placed underneath the vehicle, which translates into excellent agility and faster, smoother turns than the comparably powered versions of the Mercedes GLB permit. 

The model includes regeneration modes that return energy to the batteries. Paddles on the back of the steering wheel increase or decrease regenerative braking, but the Auto mode behaves intelligently, preventing you from going too fast down a hill or getting too close to another car. 

The default drive mode is Comfort, no surprise there. The Sport mode was just fine on the smaller winding roads we drove in the environs of Stuttgart. There’s also an Eco mode to save range and an Individual mode to combine the different modes. 

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Cabin
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Cabin | Photo: B.Charette

A welcoming interior
The EQB has an "easygoing" feel to it with its easy access and styling that's closer to a wagon than an SUV. The large windows provide good visibility, and the wheelbase is long enough to make you feel serene and stable when driving at highway speeds. 

While the interior is like the GLB model, Mercedes has found a little more space thanks to the absence down the middle of a hump. Further back, though, the battery pack does encroach slightly on the cargo area, costing you a few litres of trunk space. 

For those who need additional seating, there is a seven-seat option. Just don't expect to put adults in the back. It’s a strictly-kids space, and if you do use that third row, the cargo space shrinks to nothingness or almost. 

Overall, the atmosphere is luxurious without being ostentatious. You get ambient LED lighting to make you feel you're in your favourite nightclub. Materials are beautifully crafted and comfortable in genuine leather or MB-Tex leatherette and high-quality plastics with extra touches like microfiber upholstery and backlit or natural grain wood trim. 

Brushed chrome and rose gold accents give the EQB's interior a touch of elegance, complemented by leather seats and door panels.

Features like a head-up display and augmented video for navigation can be added as options.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Multimedia screen
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Multimedia screen | Photo: B.Charette

Technological, but not too much
Tech-wise, there's not much missing from this little SUV. You get a dual digital display for instrumentation and infotainment with standard Mercedes MBUX voice assistant. You can also navigate via the touchscreen, or by using a (still poorly designed) touchpad on the centre console. Apple Carplay and Android Auto also come standard. 

The dashboard features two 10.25-inch digital displays under a single pane of glass. The gauge cluster is bright and easy to navigate.

The intelligent electric navigation system can calculate the best route and schedule stops along the way to recharge the battery when needed. It does so taking into account traffic and even weather and topography along the route. 

Like all Mercedes products, you get an assortment of active and advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot assist and active brake assist.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Car seats
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Car seats | Photo: B.Charette

The final word
Despite its great qualities, the EQB suffers in two respects: it offers less range than most competitors, and it’s more expensive. Consider that a model like the Cadillac Lyriq, which is far ahead in terms of luxury, elegance and finish, not to mention range, sells for $5,000 less than the EQB. 

Which makes it all the more important for Mercedes, if it wants this model to succeed, to find a way to bring the price point under $60,000. The model would then be eligible for provincial and federal rebates and more likely to attract a larger customer base.

We like

Optional third row available
Comfortable ride
Responsive handling

We like less

High price
Insufficient range
Very small third row

The competition

Audi Q4 e-tron
Cadillac Lyriq
Genesis GV70 électrifié (à venir)
Jaguar I-Pace
Rivian R1S
Tesla Model Y

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Trunk
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Trunk | Photo: B.Charette
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Logo
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB - Logo | Photo: B.Charette
Benoit Charette
Benoit Charette
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 65 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists