There’s not much choice if you’re in the market for an electric vehicle with seven seats.
If money is no object then a Tesla Model X will do nicely. Other options include vehicles such as the Stellantis trio (Peugeot e-Rifter, Citroen e-Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo-e Life) or larger van-based people carriers such as the Citroen e-SpaceTourer, Peugeot e-Traveller, Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life and Nissan e-NV200 Combi.
All that will change with the arrival of the seven-seat version of the cool Volkswagen ID.Buzz, but that’s another story.
So, the Mercedes-Benz EQB operates in something of a niche. The fact that it happens to be a surprisingly good package is a bonus.
Based on the conventionally powered GLB, the EQB is a mid-sized SUV about the size of a Volvo XC60, BMW X3 or Lexus NX.
There’s nothing flash about its design – it’s a handsome yet boxy sports utility vehicle with a high roofline, short overhangs and plenty of glass.
Priced from £55,310-£62,810, the EQB is powered by two electric motors connected to a 66.5kWh battery and is 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 slightly confusing because the EQB 300 has 224bhp and the 350 has 287bhp, but we’ll let that go.
More importantly, range varies from a claimed 246 miles for the EQB 300 to 253 for the EQB 350. The latter has a 6.2-second 0-62mph time, while the less powerful version is a smidgeon slower at eight seconds. Both come with four-wheel drive as standard.
The EQB can be charged at speeds up to 100kW (which is nothing special these days). Still, that means a 10-80% boost from a 100kW rapid charger could take as little as 32 minutes, while a 0-100% charge can be achieved overnight via a home wallbox.
As you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz, it’s a premium car in every sense of the word.
Inside, it’s virtually the same as the GLB, which is no bad thing, though in these minimalist times it is starting to look a little dated up front.
There are twin 10-inch screens for the slick infotainment and driver’s displays, three massive air vents and a row of switches below (physical, thankfully) for climate control.
My only gripe is that left-hand steering wheel stalk operates both the indicator and wipers, front and back.
It’s worth noting that the MBUX Interior Assistant with gesture control comes as standard. Controlled via voice, touch or optional gesture input, the innovative system can over time even predict personal habits thanks to artificial intelligence.
The driving position is comfortable and the seats (upholstered in black Artico man-made leather) are supportive. Rear passengers will have no complaints because there’s ample leg and headroom.
We tried the third row, and even though the official advice is that the pop-up seats 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 bench is pushed forward a bit, but it’s a knees-up seating position.
The list of goodies and tech available as standard on the EQB is extensive – adjustable heated front sports seats, automatic climate control, privacy glass, a reversing camera, lane keep assist and speed limit assist to name but a few.
Our test car (an EQB 350) was surprisingly fast off the line for a fairly substantial vehicle, and as you’d expect, the power delivery was effortless in its power delivery.
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, Comfort is just the job because Eco dulls the throttle response too much and Sport makes it hyperactive, so best left for short, energy-sapping blasts.
The EQB rides smoothly and handles its bulk well. Sure, there’s some body lean, 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 in more challenging corners.
So, the EQB is a bit of a revelation, but there’s no getting away from the range issue. It’s fine for short commutes, shopping trips and school runs (especially if you can charge at home overnight), but it’s rather more of a challenge on regular longer journeys.
Despite its near 250-mile claimed range, the reality is that it’s closer to 200 and even worse in the depths of winter.