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Auto review: 2023 Mercedes EQB offers treatments for 'range anxiety'

Barry Spyker, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Let’s call them the EV-tentative. These folks are interested in electric vehicles but haven’t quite flipped the switch yet because of that dreaded “range anxiety.”

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, it’s already in the Oxford dictionary: “Worry on the part of a person driving an electric car that the battery will run out of power before the destination, or a suitable charging point, is reached.” A little long-winded but accurate.

Well, the 2023 Mercedes EQB 350 can treat that condition — without pills, too. It’s called “Electric Intelligence” and it works with the navigation system to calculate the fastest routes specifically for electric driving, including charging stops. Range simulations continually explore the journey in progress, considering the weather, topography and changing traffic conditions.

For a little extra security, Mercedes provides EQB buyers with free and unlimited quick-charge sessions for two years. Those fast charges can restore 80 percent of the battery’s power in 30 minutes, says Mercedes.

They may come in handy given the EQB has one of the lowest expected ranges, at 227 miles, among competitors in the luxury-compact EV segment. Longer-range versions are expected some day but the current range is sufficient for most who expect to plug in daily. Expect a six- to seven-hour wait for a full charge on a Level 2 charger.

The EQB is an electric clone of the popular Mercedes GLB class. In other words, it does not ride on a dedicated EV platform like the EQS and EQE. Mercedes swapped out the turbo four for the electric powertrain, put a glossy black cover over the open grille and retained the familiar Mercedes star in the center. It has the same boxy shape but horizontal light strips at front and rear, but blue accents on the wheels give it away as an EV.

 

While an entry-level EQB 250 has front-wheel-drive and a 188-horsepower electric motor, the top-line EQB 350 is the quickest of the lineup with a dual-motor setup — one up front and one in the rear — and it’s good for 288 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. It also has better grip with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

With a single-speed transmission, the EQB offers instant torque and sprints to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which is competitive with the segment. Drive modes include Eco, Comfort and Sport, with the latter bringing quicker throttle and shift points.

The EQB is nimble, comfortable and quiet with little road or wind noise. The ride is stable on on highways and corners, with some credit going to the 66.5 kWh battery situated low in the chassis. The rest goes to EQB’s adaptive suspension which compensates for uneven surfaces and personal driving style.

Steering is accurate and light enough for tight maneuvers and parking. Braking distance is a bit greater than the GLB due to the extra battery weight hikes the EQB’s overall curb weight to 4,813 pounds.

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