Imagine an electric car that would allow you to connect Brest to Lyon with a single battery charge, i.e. nearly 1,000 km without any compromise in speed, comfort or, above all, driving pleasure.
Not possible? Mercedes-Benz is convinced otherwise and created the concept Vision EQXX to prove it. This rear-drive sedan serves as a showcase for the electric drivetrain technologies, aerodynamic developments and lightweight construction that the brand is looking to pursue for future production models.
With a 100 kWh battery integrated into its flat floor, this gives it a theoretical range of over 1,000 kilometres. By comparison, the rear-wheel-drive EQE 350 claims a range of 650 km with a 90.6 kWh battery.
The 900V unit is equipped with CATL’s latest lithium-ion cells. With their silicon anode they are said to deliver an energy density of up to 400Wh per litre, making them much more energy efficient than the cells used in the batteries fitted to existing EQ electric models. It is also claimed to be 50% smaller and 30% lighter than today’s batteries.
Mercedes has already shown the potential of the Vision EQXX during two development journeys, the last of which was from Stuttgart to Goodwood, a distance of 1,202 km, without the need for recharging. However, this was achieved by a team of highly trained test pilots with real-time access to all the information generated by a trunk full of data loggers and in constant radio contact with engineers at the Mercedes base in Germany.
Nevertheless, Mercedes is so confident in the Vision EQXX’s ability to hit high efficiency targets with any driver behind the wheel that it just threw the key at me and told me to go for a drive and find out for myself what is possible. It’s not just a low-speed round trip, but a journey along a series of winding roads in and around its sprawling R&D center in Immendingen.
Before I slip into the driver’s seat and hit the start button, a quick recap of what’s inside this teardrop-style body. With various active spoilers, including a complex diffuser that deploys from the lower edge of the rear bumper at high speed, the EQXX achieves a record drag coefficient of 0.17.
The car itself is largely bespoke, including the platform, which bears a distant cousin to the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) used for cars such as the EQC sedan expected in 2024-2025. .
At 4977mm long, 1870mm wide and just 1350mm high, the Vision EQXX is 226mm longer, 50mm wider and 105mm lower than the current C-Class. Its wheelbase is 40 mm shorter, at 2800 mm.
On the engine side, the compact 241hp synchronous unit, integrated into the rear axle, was jointly developed by Mercedes’ German engineering team and its HPP (High Performance Powertrain) division in Brixworth. Drive to the rear wheels is via a single-speed gearbox. The driver’s door opens wide, making it easy to get on board despite the relatively low height.
The clamshell front seats, with rather firm cushioning but little lateral support, are mounted quite low, but without dedicated footrests while the pedals are placed quite high, creating a very sporty driving position. The view to the rear is non-existent, as an array of solar cells covers the entire roof and the space that would usually be dedicated to the rear window.
The dashboard is quite low and houses a 110 cm wide 8K curved digital display panel. The touchscreen unit houses a whole host of menus and data, including wind direction, which is measured by three tiny sensors on the front. Everything is very elegant, but it’s not just for show. Everything works as you would expect on a regular Mercedes.
To move forward, you pull the Direct Shift column stick toward P and push the throttle, just like in any production EQ model. We find the typical smoothness of electric motors once running. Performance is good right off the bat and it feels rather snappy under load up to the governed top speed of 140 km/h.
But with Mercedes engineers remotely tracking my every move, now is not the time to test the machine’s accelerations. Instead, we’re settling into a loop course to see how close we can get to the savings figure achieved by the in-house riders.
The digital display provides real-time consumption, which we try to keep as low as possible. The original plan was to run without air conditioning to preserve energy levels, but with the temperature pushing 30 degrees in the midday sun, we decide that’s not such a good idea.
At typical highway speeds, the Vision EQXX is perfectly refined. Besides the hushed character of the electric motor, there is an almost total absence of aerodynamic disturbance. This is where the rear diffuser deploys to elongate the body, reduce underbody turbulence and provide increased longitudinal stability. There are four regenerative braking modes, activated via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
In use, you rarely need to physically apply the brakes, even in slower corners. At the other end, the Vision EQXX rolls freely without any noticeable mechanical drag over impressive distances, and this without any electricity consumption thanks in part to its low rolling resistance 185/65 R20 tires, developed specifically for the concept. by Bridgestone. The constant juggling between the different modes raises and lowers the consumption, which proves to be both stimulating and entertaining.
From a driver’s perspective, there’s a lot to enjoy. It starts with the layout of the drive wheels. The steering is surprisingly precise, although quite heavy, while the location of the battery in the floor induces a low center of gravity, to the benefit of maneuverability.
With excellent forward vision and a relatively narrow width, the Vision EQXX is easy to place on the road, where it proves very flexible. It is then that we notice that the concept already displays more than 16,000 km on the clock, proof that it is not just a salon beast. In fact, the EQXX feels perfectly at home on a variety of different roads, at low and high speeds.
At present, it’s hard to say how much auto technology will be present in Mercedes’ next electric models. But as a demonstration of intent, it’s very impressive.
The longer you drive it, the more convincing it becomes. We already feel it is mature enough to go into production now. Such thoughts, however, ignore the costs involved in its creation…
When we come to the end of our test drive, the data logger shows applications of throttle, braking, steering angles, operating temperature and more. That’s the economic number we’re looking for, though.
And to our great surprise, we do better than Mercedes with 12 km per kWh, despite the use of air conditioning and carrying a passenger. Brest-Lyon from a single battery charge? No problem at all. In fact, according to our calculations, you can even push further…
© Greg Kable / Autocar
To be retained
Price: not for sale!
Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Power 241 hp
Transmission: to rear wheels, 1-speed reducer
Empty weight 1755 kg
0-100 km/h: 6.8 sec (est.)
Maximum speed 140 km/h
Battery 100 kWh approx.
Advertised range: approximately 1,200 km (est.)