You’re not exactly spoilt for choice if you’re looking for an electric vehicle with seven seats. We test one of the few – the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350….
Based on the conventionally powered GLB, the EQB is a premium SUV about the same size as a BMW X3, Volvo XC60 or Lexus NX.
A handsome yet boxy sports utility vehicle with a high roofline, short overhangs and plenty of glass, it’s priced from £55,310- £62,810.
Powered by two electric motors connected to a 66.5kWh battery, it’s available in two specs – an EQB 300 or 350 – and three trim levels (AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus).
The naming convention is a little confusing because the EQB 300 puts out 224bhp, while the 350 has 287bhp, but there you go.
Range varies from a claimed 246 miles for the EQB 300 to 253 miles for the EQB 350. The latter has a 6.2-second 0-62mph time, while the less powerful version is a tad slower at eight seconds. Both come with four-wheel drive as standard.
The EQB can be charged at speeds up to 100kW (which is average these days), meaning a 10-80% boost from a 100kW rapid charger takes as little as 32 minutes, while a 0-100% charge can be achieved overnight via a home wallbox.
As you’d expect from a vehicle sporting a three-pointed star, it’s a plush motor.
The driving position is comfortable and the supportive seats in our test car were upholstered in black Artico man-made leather.
Rear passengers are also in for a treat because there’s ample leg and headroom.
We tried the third row, and even though the pop-up seats officially can be used by people up to 5ft 4 inches tall, it is possible for six-footers to squeeze in for brief trips if the second row seats are pushed forward a bit, but it is a knees-up seating position.
With five seats in place, the EQB offers a generous 465-litre capacity. Flip down the second and third rows and you’ll have an estate car-like 1,710 litres to play with.
Up front, it’s virtually the same as the GLB, which is no bad thing, though the design is starting to look a little dated in these minimalist times.
All models have Mercedes’ familiar MBUX dual-screen infotainment system with 10-inch screens for the slick infotainment and driver’s displays. There are also three large air vents and a row of physical switches below for climate control.
You’ll have to get used to the Mercedes-Benz quirk of the left-hand steering wheel stalk operating both the indicator and wipers, front and back. The gear selector is another stalk on the other side.
Selected functions of the multimedia system can be operated contact-free via the MBUX Interior Assistant. Controlled via voice, touch or optional gesture input, the innovative system can over time even predict personal habits thanks to artificial intelligence. As ever with these systems, it’s not perfect, but improving with each iteration.
Adjustable heated front sports seats, automatic climate control, privacy glass, a reversing camera, lane keep assist and speed limit assist are just a few of the extensive list of goodies and tech available as standard on the EQB.
On the road, our EQB 350 test car was surprisingly fast off the line for a fairly substantial vehicle, and as you’d expect, the power delivery was effortless.
Drive modes include Eco, Comfort and Sport, plus you can also choose between five levels of brake regeneration (the clever Auto setting worked really well).
Frankly, you’ll never need to stray from the Comfort setting because Eco dulls the throttle response too much and Sport makes it hyperactive, so it’s best left for short, energy-sapping blasts.
The EQB rides smoothly and handles its bulk well. Sure, there’s some body lean in faster corners, but it is possible to have some fun in this vehicle, unlike some SUVs. With progressive brakes, sharp steering and excellent traction, it gives you the confidence to push on.
Composed and feeling nothing other than well planted, the Mercedes-Benz EQB is a superbly comfortable cruiser.
All in all, the EQB is a bit of a surprise package, but there’s no getting away from the range issue and its modest charge rate, especially if you need it for regular longer journeys. With a real-world range closer to 200 miles, more adventurous trips are going to need a bit of planning.
But if an EQB is used for shorter commutes, shopping trips and school runs, it’s a fab EV – especially if you can charge at home overnight.
Its few three-row EV rivals include the expensive Tesla Model X, the cheaper Peugeot e-Rifter, Citroen e-Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo-e Life, plus larger van-based people carriers such as the Citroen e-SpaceTourer, Peugeot e-Traveller, Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life and Nissan e-NV200 Combi.
Verdict: Not only is the Mercedes-Benz EQB one of the few pure electric seven-seater SUVs on the market, it’s also more engaging to drive than you might think. Safe, spacious, refined, well built and packed with tech, it’s a class act.
Review in association with www.automotiveblog.co.uk