If you want a family-oriented EV that can serve as a daily driver, you should consider the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4 Matic.
Like it or not, the electric vehicle invasion in Malaysia has started, and to be blunt, there's no way you can buy an EV without having another regular car at home.
One of the reasons why you will need a two-car garage if one of them is to be an electric car is that the EV charging infrastructure in Malaysia is still in its infancy stage, which means there are still not enough of them around the country to make EVs practical, especially if you need them to travel long distances.
However, if you're blessed enough to have the dough where you can have an EV and a regular car at home, and would like to treat the EV as dad's taxi as well as your daily driver, then the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4 Matic is one of the best EVs you can buy right now.
Mercedes-Benz was relatively slow to introduce its EVs in Malaysia, but they've more than made up for it through the EVs they have now introduced. To be quite frank, they have the most versatile range of EVs in the country. They have everything from a sedan to a large SUV, all of which are well-thought-out electric cars.
Although the Mercedes-Benz EQS is by far the most impressive electric vehicle in the EQ (Mercedes-Benz calls their EV range EQ) lineup, the EQB makes the most sense for now. Not only is it a compact SUV which suits tight car parks and city roads, but it is also the only seven-seater SUV EV you can buy right now.
What is the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 4Matic, and how much is it?
The EQB 350 4Matic is an electric SUV based on the compact 7-seater Mercedes-Benz GLB. Mercedes took out the GLB's internal combustion engine(I.C.E) and slapped in a battery and two electric motors. One motor is placed at the front and another at the back, giving the EQB 4Matic all-wheel drive capabilities.
As an electric vehicle, the EQB falls in the same category as the five-seater Volvo XC40 recharge, but its extra two seats at the very rear give it a unique feature.
Okay, the EQB is much dearer than the Volvo coming in at RM329k, but Mercedes prices are generally higher than those cars from Sweden.
Compared to the GLB, there's not much difference between the exterior look of the EQB and its I.C.E cousin. Everything looks the same, except the EQB has the typical EQ front and rear end look, where things are more Bauhaus and curvier.
Instead of a grille, the EQB has a plastic cover with a Mercedes-Benz logo at the tip of its nose, and at the rear, its taillights are joined up by a light bar stretching between the rear lights. Unfortunately, these new bits of exterior elements turn the EQB into a cutesy little SUV, altering the GLB's more rugged look. Nonetheless, the design works to differentiate the two cars, but we still prefer the look of the GLB.
The interior is where the EQB is better than the GLB, as some parts of its interior have been given exciting colours to spruce things up.
Instead of bland black seats, you now get a two-tonne two-fabric setup comprising of Artico synthetic leather and Cupertino fabric, and the signature Mercedes-Benz circular air conditioning vents have been given a rose-gold treatment.
Everything else is pretty much undistinguishable, including the vast twin-screen instrument panel/infotainment system, which can be controlled either by touch or some buttons either at the centre console or steering wheel.
Overall, the front cockpit area looks very cool, and it becomes even more vibrant at night, thanks to the illuminated screens and ambient lighting, which sheds some light on the dashboard, door cards and centre console.
Everyone can appreciate the driving experience of an EV, even if you are a petrolhead. Its silent propulsion and instant torque is quite addictive and can turn the most docile of drivers into an uncivilised driver. You just step on the accelerator pedal, and all of its 520Nm of torque moves the EQB swiftly. In fact the EQB can make the 0-100 km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds which is quite fast for a barge-like vehicle.
But like any EV, the extra weight from the heavy battery pack is felt when you are going fast. It tends to make the vehicle wallow, dip and dive a bit more than its I.C.E counterpart. However, you can still have fun because the different levels of regeneration braking can give the driver an engine braking sensation, which allows you to have more control when coming out of a corner.
The EQB is not built for a sporty drive, and one of the first indications is the standard comfort suspension. It's pretty much a comfortable SUV that eats up bad roads and potholes, which is what we all need in a daily driver/dad's taxi. Its NVH suppression has also been beefed, where Mercedes have taken great care in eliminating unwanted vibrations and noises from the electric motors. Quiet, serene and comfortable is what best describes the EQB's driving experience.
How about its driving range? any range anxiety?
Our test car from Mercedes-Benz didn't come with a home charger, so we took it upon ourselves to see whether we could go throughout the test duration without needing to charge it. When we picked it up, it was fully charged and had about 360km of driving range.
We had the EQB for four days and three nights and practically drove it like a regular car over the said number of days. We took it to work, sent the kids to school, went grocery shopping and even used it to send the kids to their weekend extracurricular activities - you know, standard weekend stuff.
Yes, we did have range anxiety when we first picked up the car because we had no intentions of charging it, but by the time we returned it, we had 200km of driving range left. Now, if you charge it daily at home, it would mean you would have access to all of its driving range every morning, but as it turns out, you could go a few days without charging it, and you'll be alright.
Why is the EQB one of the best EVs to buy?
From first impressions, we were smitten by the EQB. It ticked all the right boxes, including one that no other EVs in Malaysia can do right now. It's comfortable, relaxing and has vast amounts of thrust to appease the boy racer in us.
What took the cake was the fact that I had two extra seats at the very rear, which meant I could take my immediate family for an outing in an electric car without leaving anyone behind.
Although we can't treat the EQB as a proper seven-seater cause it's pretty cramped back there, those two extra seats that pop out of the floor have proven to come in handy. Yes, they might only be suitable for short journeys and kids, but we like that they are there. If practicality is the name of the EV game, then the EQB wins hands down.