Imagine an electric car that would enable you to connect Brest to Lyon with one battery charge, i.e. almost 1,000 kilometers without any compromise in speed, comfort or, above all, driving pleasure.
Impossible? Mercedes-Benz is convinced otherwise and created the Vision EQXX concept to prove it. This rear-drive sedan serves as a showcase for the electric drivetrain technology, aerodynamics and lightweighting that the brand is looking to pursue with future production models.
With a 100 kWh battery integrated into its flat floor, this gives it a theoretical range of over 1,000 km. In 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. Their silicon anode is said to deliver an energy density of up to 400Wh per litre, making them more energy efficient than the cells used in batteries fitted to existing EQ power models. It is also claimed to be 50% smaller and 30% lighter than today’s batteries.
Mercedes has already demonstrated the capabilities 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 provided by a trunk full of data loggers and constant communication with engineers at the Mercedes facility in Germany.
However, Mercedes is so confident in the Vision EQXX’s ability to hit high performance targets with any driver behind the wheel that it just threw me the key and told me to go for a drive and see for myself what’s possible. Not just a low-speed round trip, but a journey along a series of winding roads in and around its massive R&D facility in Immendingen.
Before I get into the driver’s seat and press the ignition button, a brief overview of what’s inside this teardrop style body. Equipped with various active spoilers, including a complex diffuser that extends from the lower edge of the rear bumper at high speeds, the EQXX achieves a record drag coefficient of 0.17.
The car itself is largely proposed, including the platform, which carries a distant cousin of the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA) used in cars such as the EQC sedan expected in 2024-2025. .
At 4977mm long, 1870mm wide and just 1350mm tall, the EQXX Compass 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, mounted on the rear axle, was jointly developed by Mercedes’ German engineering team and its HPP (High Performance Powertrain) unit in Brixworth. Drive to the rear wheels is through a single-speed gearbox. The driver’s door opens wide, which makes it easy to get on board despite the relatively low height.
The front bucket seats, with firm cushions but little lateral support, are set very low, but without special footrests while the pedals are placed very high, creating a relaxed driving experience. Rearward visibility is absent, as an array of solar cells covers the entire roof and the space that would normally be reserved for the rear window.
The dashboard is at the bottom and has a 110cm wide 8K curved digital display panel. The touchscreen unit stores a lot of menus and data, including wind direction, which is measured by three small sensors on the front. Everything is very elegant, but not only for show. Everything works as you would expect in a classic Mercedes.
To advance, you pull the Direct Shift column towards P and push the volume, just like in any EQ production model. We get the usual smoothness of electric motors once they are running. Performance is good once you load it up and it feels nimble under load up to a governed top speed of 140 km/h.
But since Mercedes engineers are monitoring my every move remotely, now is not the time to try to speed up the machine. Instead, we are setting ourselves up in a loop to see how much savings we can get from local operators.
The digital display provides a real-time experience, which we try to keep as low as possible. The original plan was to run without air conditioning to conserve energy levels, but with temperatures pushing 30 degrees in the afternoon sun, we decide that’s not a good idea.
At normal highway speeds, the Vision EQXX is perfectly refined. In addition to the stability of the electric car, there is an almost complete absence of aerodynamic disturbances. This is where the rear diffuser is used to lengthen the body, reduce underbody vibration and provide increased longitudinal stability. There are four brake modes, activated via paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
In use, you rarely need to physically apply the brakes, even in slow corners. On the other hand, the EQXX Compass moves freely without any visible mechanical tension over an impressive distance, and this without any consumption of electricity thanks in part to its low rolling resistance 185/65 R20 tires, specially designed for the concept. Constant conversations between different channels increase and decrease the experience, which proves to be exciting and entertaining.
From a driver’s perspective, there’s a lot to enjoy. It starts with the arrangement of the car’s wheels. The steering is surprisingly precise, although quite heavy, while the location of the battery on the floor results in a lower center of gravity, for the benefit of the steering.
With excellent forward vision and a relatively narrow width, Vision EQXX is easy to put on the road, where it proves to be very flexible. It is then that we see that the concept already shows more than 16,000 kilometers on the clock, proof that it is not just a saloon beast. In fact, the EQXX feels completely at home on a wide variety of roads, both at low and high speeds.
For now, it’s hard to say how much auto technology will be in Mercedes’ next electric models. But as a show of intent, it’s pretty impressive. The more you drive it, the more convincing it becomes. We already feel that it is mature enough to start production now. Such thinking, however, ignores the costs involved in its creation…
When we reach the end of our test drive, a data logger that shows compression programs, brakes, steering angles, operating temperatures and more. That’s the economic number we’re looking for, though. To our surprise, we do better than the Mercedes with 12 km/kWh, despite using air conditioning and carrying passengers. Brest-Lyon from a single battery charge? No problem at all. In fact, according to our calculations, you can even press more …
© Greg Kable / Coach
Price: not for sale!
Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Power 241 hp
Transmission: for rear wheels, 1 speed reducer
Empty weight 1755 kg
0-100 km/h: 6.8 seconds (est.)
Maximum speed 140 km / h
Battery 100 kWh approx.
Advertised range: approximately 1,200 km (est.)