Despite not riding on a dedicated EV platform, you’d have a hard time telling the EQB wasn’t designed as an electric car from the start.
Whether it’s an abbreviated cargo hold or dramatic changes to how it feels on the road, some gas cars that are later electrified can feel like middling compromises. But not the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB. Despite running on a standard front-wheel-drive platform, this compact SUV feels like it was designed to be an EV from the get-go.
In pictures, Mercedes’ EQ electric vehicle face looks a little awkward on the EQB’s body, but that’s likely because we’re so used to seeing standard GLB-Class SUVs out and about. In person, the smooth headlight and grille combination looks right at home, correctly proportioned to the small SUV’s shape. The taillights are different, too, and they look cooler than what the standard GLB gets. Throw my tester’s rose gold paint into the mix, and yeah. Chef’s kiss.
Inside, things are a little closer to the norm. My tester’s exterior hue sneaks its way inside, adding rose gold elements to the vents, seats and even the key fob. Otherwise, it’s largely the same as the regular GLB, with the long display housing two 12-inch screens, some visually interesting trim in front of the passenger, a suitably large cubby under the climate controls and optional seating for seven. The back row remains outside the realm of usability for large adults, and the lower half of the cabin contains some surprisingly thin plastics, but the boxy shape of the EQB lets in a lot of light and makes the cabin feel pretty darn airy.
The US will get two GLB variants when it arrives on our shores. The EQB300 uses a pair of electric motors to generate 225 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque, while the EQB350 bumps that up to 288 and 384, respectively. Both have standard all-wheel drive, and both carry a WLTP-estimated range of 260 miles, although the EPA has yet to chime in with its figure, which is almost certainly a good bit lower. The 66.5-kWh battery lives below the seats, and its 400-volt architecture can accept up to 100 kW of juice, which is enough to take the battery from 10% to 80% in about half an hour. An AC plug with at least 11 kW will take almost 6 hours for the same charge, but if it’s parked in your garage overnight, that’s fine.
As I drive my way out of downtown Stuttgart in this rose-gold EQB300, I’m immediately impressed with how normal it feels to drive. It doesn’t feel like all the electric bits are eating into cabin space or fudging with the driving dynamics. 228 hp is plenty for climbing into the hills outside of town, and those 288 lb-ft will get the EQB through traffic gaps without issue. It doesn’t have silly noisemakers in the speakers like the EQE or EQS, so it’s largely a silent affair, with wind and road noise largely kept at bay. The multimode suspension is nice and pliant in its standard setting, but you can add some stiffness in Sport if you’re feeling playful.
The EQB also lacks the larger EQ cars’ intelligent regenerative braking, which can bring the vehicle to a stop in traffic while maximizing recuperative energy. But there are still four different brake regen modes on offer, including an Automatic mode that takes map data into account and can suggest when the driver should ease off the throttle to boost efficiency. True one-pedal driving would be a nice addition.
When it comes to safety systems, only automatic emergency braking and active lane-keeping assist are standard. Everything else is tucked into a Driving Assistance Package, which adds adaptive cruise control with traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring and evasive steering assist.
The rest of the tech in the Mercedes EQB isn’t too shabby, either. The 12.3-inch screen on the dashboard runs the automaker’s MBUX infotainment system, which includes standard navigation. The telematics also combine with all that EV hardware in a few ways. Using the Mercedes Me app, owners can pre-condition the cabin using wall power to avoid a range penalty. Turn-by-turn directions can be modified with requirements like having a certain amount of charge at your destination, and the nav will ensure you hit a charger at the right time to make that happen.
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB is every bit the fun little urban runabout that the gas-powered GLB-Class is. It’s shaped to prioritize interior and cargo volume in a footprint that’s easy to maneuver and park on tight streets. It has good tech and, for what it can fit under the passenger compartment, a solid amount of electric range. It’s a smooth, cute ute.