Mercedes-Benz Malaysia's electric vehicle range is one of the most complete families of EVs in Malaysia, and we went on an out-of-town trip with them to see what they are like to live with it.
When the government announced the 2022 budget last year, players in the automotive industry jumped out of their seats as it was announced that electric vehicles (EVs) sold beyond 2021 will be exempted from road tax, excise duties, and import duties!
These EV incentives were pretty earth-shaking at the time as they practically opened up the doors for more EV sales in Malaysia, where before they would have been deemed too pricey. Yes, EV prices are still on the premium side, but they have reduced, thanks to the incentives.
With the road paved for more EVs to be sold in Malaysia, many local distributors started working on a plan to bring their EVs. In the final months of 2021, automakers from BMW to Volvo to even Hyundai/Kia announced that they would be introducing their EVs in early 2022, but surprisingly, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) was pretty quiet on this front.
In March 2022 however, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia debuted its first EV, the all-electric EQA 250. This Merc EV practically opened the Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle floodgate, which saw Mercedes-Benz Malaysia introducing three more models in Q4.
With these releases, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has one of the most comprehensive EV ranges in Malaysia. They have most of the cars from their Mercedes-Benz EQ (Intelligent Electric Mobility) range and one of Malaysia's most versatile lineups of EVs, making up for their slow start.
To showcase their EVs, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia recently invited us for a drive. This drive would take us from their headquarters in Puchong, down south to Muar, with an overnight stop in Melaka and back to the Klang Valley. This is of course one of the first electric vehicle drives hosted in Malaysia, a clear sign of the times we live in.
Although we tried our best to sample all the vehicles, unfortunately, we didn't have enough time, limiting us to the EQC 400 and EQA 250.
Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4 Matic
The EQC 400 is one of the first electric vehicles out of Stuttgart. It's based on the Mercedes-Benz GLC and shares many of its dimensions, including its wheelbase.
In developing the EQC, the engineering focus was not just on the innovative powertrain system, progressive design, and driving dynamics but also on configuring the electric car very consciously for everyday suitability and long-term, hassle-free use.
Considering that it was built on the MRA platform designed specifically for internal combustion vehicles (ICE), one must pay kudos to Mercedes-Benz for creating a usable electric vehicle out of the parts bin.
The EQC 400 4Matic carries the brand's EV 'dynamic performance' thanks to two electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles. Combined output is set at 408hp and, get this - 760Nm of instant torque. Not only does this mean that the EQC 400 is the most potent EV in Mercedes' lineup, but all of that power also allows the SUV to get from 0-100km/h in just 5.1 seconds, technically also making it the fastest accelerating Mercedes EV in Malaysia.
It has a top speed of 180km/h, and an 80kWh battery pack that offers a range of between 373km to 437km (WLTP cycle).
In terms of charging, the EQC is fitted with the standard 11kW onboard charger and supports up to 110kW DC fast charging. As a result, 10%-100% using the AC charger can be done in 7 hours and 30 minutes, while 10%-80% using the 110kW DC charger can be completed in just 40 minutes.
The driving experience of the EQC is pretty much like a GLC, where you are basked in comfort and luxury but without the engine sound. Of course, its instant torque is entertaining, but you only really feel the full grunt when accelerating from a standstill. When moving, the monstrous amounts of torque is not as noticeable, but still, you have lots of power that can quickly get you to its top speed without much effort.
On the highway, the EQC is an accomplished cruiser, probably better than the GLC, as its EV drivetrain gives it this next level of refinement that ICE vehicles will never have (ok, maybe the Mercedes-Maybach can provide this). However, that's when you're going straight because when the roads get a bit bendy, you start to feel its main weakness as the weight of the heavy battery-powered vehicle is felt.
The EQC is built for Autobahn-type cruising, where maximum comfort is of the utmost importance, so to expect it to deliver a fun and agile experience would be wrong. However, if you treat it as the vehicle it is meant to be, you will have no qualms with it.
But we guess the most important question of all was how was its driving range? Well, when we set off from MBM's headquarters in Puchong, the EQC had around 367km of driving range, and when we reached Melaka at the end of the day via Muar, it had around 118km left. Okay, that's not enough to get us back to the Klang Valley, but an overnight recharge would have sorted that out, but then again, we never got to try it out as we moved on to the EQA.
Mercedes-Benz EQA 250
Like the EQC, the EQA is built on a modified ICE platform. It is based on the Mercedes Benz GLA, their smallest SUV. As mentioned, it was the first Mercedes-Benz EV introduced in Malaysia, in front of all the other models from the EQ range.
Despite having one of the smallest battery packs out of all the Mercedes EVs, it still delivers a decent driving range of around 429km. When we set off from Melaka towards Seremban, it had 360km of driving range (not fully charged, about 70% of battery life). By the time we got to Seremban, it had 200km of driving range left, which meant we had plenty of juice left to get us back to Puchong.
One of the reasons the battery depleted quickly between Melaka and Seremban was that we were having so much fun in the EQA. It never felt like a heavy battery-operated vehicle as it was quite agile and light. Because of this, we were being slight hooligans on the road and even managed to get it to max out at its top speed of 160km/h.
The EQA 250 is powered by a front-mounted single electric motor that outputs 190PS and 375Nm that's good for an 8.9-second sprint to 100km/h, which is about level with the GLA 250's performance figures (8.7s to 100km/h).
This is definitely the better Mercedes EV on small, tight roads, but it still cruised really well on the highway. The difference between the EQA and EQC on the highway was that the EQA had a lot of sound intrusion in the cabin, and the ride was a bit bouncy. We wouldn't say the EQA is uncomfortable, but it's not an accomplished highway cruiser like the EQC. Where the EQA belongs is actually in the city, where it fits in perfectly.
A complete range of EVs for every need
So as you can see from our short but insightful experience, Mercedes Benz Malaysia has a versatile lineup of EVs with different characteristics.
Yes, we never managed to test the EQS and EQB, but from what we saw, the EQS is best for out-of-town trips. It managed to travel throughout the two-day & one-night trip without a recharge and was only juiced up when it arrived back at MBM's headquarters at the end of the excursion.
If you ever need a seven-seater EV, the EQB can deliver on that front because it is the only seven-seater EV available in Malaysia.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia might have started a tiny bit slower in the local EV race, but they have more than made up for it by introducing various cars with different purposes. The driving range offered in the Merc EVs is also decent and impressive, especially considering that only the EQS was made from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. The rest are based on ICE platforms, but you would have never known if no one had told you.