Can the electric Mercedes-Benz EQC catch up to Jaguar’s segment-bending I-Pace?

After a false start, Mercedes-Benz has finally kicked off its multipronged electric car offensive with a crossover called EQC. Developed with batteries in mind from the get-go, it stands out as one of the most technologically advanced cars the pioneering German firm has ever launched. It will join Tesla’s growing list of nightmares when it goes on sale across America in 2020.

The EQC inaugurates the EQ sub-brand, a name which stands for “electric intelligence.” It’s close to the existing, gasoline-powered GLC in terms of size, style, and proportions, but it receives an electric-specific front-end design that draws inspiration from the Generation EQ concept car we saw at the 2016 Paris auto show. The top slat in the grille lights up to connect the LED inserts in the headlights, a styling cue that gives the model a futuristic look. From the side, Mercedes designers retained the basic proportions of a gasoline-powered crossover to preserve a degree of familiarity. Moving around to the back, a thin light bar connects the taillights to create a surprisingly Porsche-like look. Blue accents all around hint at the electric power under the sheet metal.

Two high-resolution screens under a single glass pane dominate the dashboard. The left screen replaces the instrument cluster and the right one runs the latest generation of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system optimized for electric vehicles. Mercedes notes the navigation system takes charging times into account, for example, and lets the driver find the nearest charging station. It also provides information like opening times and available slots if it’s connected to the internet.

At launch, Mercedes will offer a single variant of the model, named EQC 400. It’s powered by an electric motor mounted over each axle, a configuration quickly becoming par for the course in this burgeoning segment. They draw electricity from an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack to provide 402 horsepower — hence the 400 part of the nameplate — and 564 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes hasn’t released the EQC’s weight yet but promises it takes merely 4.9 seconds to perform the benchmark 0-to-60-mph sprint. That’s on par with Porsche’s agile 718 Cayman.

The EQC will join Tesla’s growing list of nightmares when it goes on sale across America in 2020.

The EQC falls short when it comes to range. Fully charged, its battery pack provides up to 200 miles of range, a figure that pushes it behind rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace, which offers up to 240 miles. Two hundred miles places the EQC behind cars positioned a notch or two below it, like the Chevrolet Bolt (238 miles). Mercedes notes a 110-kilowatt fast charger juices up the battery pack from 10 to 80 percent in 40 minutes. It hasn’t released other charging data.

The Mercedes-Benz EQ C will go on sale in 2020. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet. Its closest rival, the Audi E-Tron will break cover later in September. The EQC will have to fend off competition from the sporty, segment-bending Jaguar I-Pace, too. Both vehicles impressed us; we called the I-Pace “a great all-around car that happens to be electric” and noted the E-Tron has what it takes to help electric cars move past the early adopters and merge into the mainstream.

Can Mercedes top Audi and Jaguar? We won’t have to wait long to find out.

What’s next?

Officials stress the EQC is just the beginning of Mercedes’ electric car offensive. The company plans on expanding the lineup with at least three additional models named EQA, EQE, and EQS. The last letter denotes which rung of the Mercedes hierarchy they’ll sit on. The A will be A-Class-sized, the E will be E-Class-sized, and so on. We expect most of them will be crossovers rather than sedans or hatchbacks.

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