Mercedes-Benz has won the race to launch an electric people mover in Australia, but with a price north of $160K is it worth it?
- Room inside for seven adults and luggage
- Doesn’t use any petrol or diesel
- Strong on safety
- Operational range is under 400km
- Doesn’t ride like a $160K Mercedes
- Feels old inside
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300
This is the Mercedes-Benz EQV electric van. It’s part of the vanguard for the EV revolution, bringing battery-powered motoring to mass-movers.
The Mercedes-Benz EQV was Australia’s first electric people mover, launching in January 2023. But just a week or so after it launched, LDV followed suit with the Mifa 9 electric people mover.
Are we about to see a flood of e-MPVs? Not likely.
People movers are not particularly popular with Australian new car buyers, but people who want them really want them. It’s not hard to understand why: practicality and space are paramount in their appeal, and of foremost importance to buyers.
Once upon a time, in the 1990s and 2000s, many of our top-selling brands counted people movers in their ranges. Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Honda and Toyota all sold seven- or eight-seat spaceships. Even smaller brands like Citroen, Chrysler, Peugeot, Renault and even SsangYong joined the space race.
Fast-forward to 2023 and, like NASA, most of those brands have mothballed their space shuttle programs because SUVs are all the rage. Modern automotive astronauts have little choice beyond the Kia Carnival, Hyundai Staria, and Toyota Granvia.
Throughout all that, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have shuffled ever forward with small-selling commercial van-based people movers like the Vito Tourer and V-Class and Transporter-based Multivan and Caravelle respectively.
Not content to be a niche follower any longer, Mercedes-Benz is leaping boldly into the space race’s new frontier: electrification.
We’re just not sure who’s going to buy it.
How much does the Mercedes-Benz EQV cost in Australia?
Mercedes-Benz offers a number of pure electric vehicles in Australia, from the crossover-style EQA small SUV to the high-performance EQS luxury saloon. The EQV is the brand’s first electrically-powered people mover, and it’s offered in one specification – EQV300.
The EQV is an electric conversion of the V-Class, which is a people-moving conversion of the Vito commercial van.
To further confuse things, Mercedes-Benz sells an electrified Vito van – the eVito – so the EQV could be a people-moving conversion of that instead, albeit one with a more powerful motor.
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The EQV300 is priced at $155,338 plus on-road costs. For that, you get a luxury people mover developed off the Mercedes-Benz Viano commercial platform. Inside are leather seats for seven in a 2+2+3 configuration. The third-row bench can be replaced with two captain’s chairs at no extra cost.
The vehicle we’re testing, which has almost $4000 in optional extras, carries a drive-away price (in Melbourne) of $188,980, which just goes to show how much impact dealer fees and stamp duty have on more expensive cars.
For comparison purposes, the diesel-powered V250 carries a list price of $91,688, rising to $109K once registration, dealer delivery fees, and stamp duty are added. The V300, whose equipment levels more closely mimic the EQV300 retails for $106,344, rising to $129,560 on-road.
So, the tariff for choosing electric is close to $50,000 at retail prices, and $60,000 on drive-away pricing.
Mercedes-Benz claims the EQV300 “offers discerning larger families an enticing mix of luxury and practicality, combined with the opportunity to substantially reduce their impact on the environment”.
Mercedes also believes limo businesses may see potential in lowering their daily running costs with the EQV300. If so, they’ll need to first digest the $170K on-road cost of the car and, secondly, come to terms with the vehicle’s limited driving range and slow recharging.
|Key details||2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300|
|Price||$155,338 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Rock Crystal White|
|Options||Black roof liner – $1287
Premium paint – $2550
|Price as tested||$159,175 plus on-road costs|
|Drive-away price||$188,980 (Melbourne)|
|Rivals||LDV Mifa 9 | Mercedes-Benz V300|
How much space does the Mercedes-Benz EQV have inside?
If space is your happy place, the Mercedes-Benz EQV will put a big smile on your face. Before we dive deeper into the depths within, let’s look at the basic equipment list.
The EQV300 comes standard with leather seats and trim, power side doors, heated and powered front seats, steering wheel with multi-function buttons, dual-zone climate control, and a Burmester sound system.
If you think that list feels a little light-on for a $180K car on the road, you’d be right. It is, and it’s probably down to the Vito’s age (the car on which the EQV is based). Main cabin occupants don’t get much in the way of comfort or amenities, but I’ll get to that shortly.
The EQV further betrays the age of its Vito donor vehicle (first launched almost a decade ago) in having a smallish 10.25-inch central infotainment system and a turnkey. Yep, this electric car has a key that needs to be cranked to start its electrical systems instead of a simple button. I suppose that gives you somewhere to store the key while driving, if nothing else.
The EQV is a very spacious – and credible – people-moving conversion of Benz’s Vito commercial van. All three rows of seats are leather, and the front two have electrical adjustment to get comfortable.
The second row of seats are captain’s chairs, allowing independent adjustment, and the third-row bench seat can be slid fore and aft to prioritise luggage space. There are climate controls for the main cabin in the second row.
Storage options for the second row are minimal – a small door pocket and seat-back map pocket nets are about it – and there are no cupholders or USB ports accessible back here.
Regardless of which row you occupy, legroom and headroom are beyond generous.
Getting in and out of the main cabin rows is made easier by electrically sliding side doors on both sides, and one-touch levers slide and lift the spring-loaded second row seat easily out of the way to allow access to the back row. The levers are so light even a kid could do it.
Alternately, the high roof line, flat floor and captain’s chairs in the two front rows make it possible to walk from the first to third row inside without stooping too much.
Both the second row and third row seats are on a rail system that allows considerable fore and aft adjustment for both.
In standard seating configuration, the boot measures 1030L, which is well beyond any seven-seat SUV, as you’d expect. Our test vehicle came with a mid-height parcel shelf with hidden storage. It’s handy to have and doubles as a cargo cover when the tailgate is closed, but is very cumbersome to remove should you need to carry taller items back there.
It’s worth noting that the EQV has a payload rating of just 654kg, and that must account for all seven occupants and their luggage. For a vehicle eminently capable of carrying seven full-sized adults, 654kg could easily be exceeded, and at that point you’re voiding your warranty and potentially your insurance.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the electrically opening tailgate raises the vehicle’s height to 2.18m when opened, so make sure you’ve got that much clearance when opening the boot, particularly in office carparks.
The Mercedes-Benz EQV carries a 17-inch steel spare wheel under the rear floor.
|2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300|
|Boot volume||1030L seats up|
Does the Mercedes-Benz EQV have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
The Mercedes-Benz EQV comes with a 10.25-inch centrally mounted screen that houses Benz’s MBUX software and provides access to digital radio, wired smartphone mirroring and satellite navigation.
The system works well, but the screen looks undersized by modern standards, especially in such a spacious cabin. Mercedes provides a mouse-pad for interacting with the screen, or you can simply touch the screen. A third option is to talk to the infotainment system using the catchphrase “Hey Mercedes”, but I found this system limited in functionality and in understanding.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included in the MBUX system, but only if the phone is plugged into the car.
Below the screen is the Benz’s climate-control buttons.
The driver’s instrument cluster has old-school analog dials flanking a small trip computer, and as such is out of step with buyer expectations at this price point.
Is the Mercedes-Benz EQV a safe car?
The EQV has not been crash-tested by ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program). Nor has the updated V-Class. The old V-Class was given a five-star rating back in 2014, but it’s hard to take any solace from that because ANCAP’s testing protocols have gone through at least three updates since then.
|2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300|
What safety technology does the Mercedes-Benz EQV have?
The Mercedes-Benz EQV offers a good selection of safety features, but there are one or two omissions.
Let’s start with passive safety. The EQV has dual front airbags, front-side airbags and front-curtain airbags. The other two rows of occupants are covered only by window bags.
Active safety features include active cruise control, lane-keeping assists, blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, high-beam assist, brake assist with autonomous emergency braking, parking assist and LED intelligent headlights.
The EQV300 also includes front and rear parking sensors and 360-degree cameras to take some of the sting out of manoeuvring such a large vehicle.
The EQV does not have rear cross-traffic alert or assist.
How much does the Mercedes-Benz EQV cost to maintain?
Mercedes-Benz calculates that the eVito van will save buyers up to $8201 in energy and servicing costs over three years and 90,000km compared to a diesel Vito. It’s a fair bet EQV private buyers will not do 30,000km per year so the saving will be less.
The EQV has a 90kWh battery powering a 150kW/365Nm electric motor driving the front wheels. Mercedes claims an average energy consumption of 26.3kWh/100km and indicative driving range of 418km.
The nearest official rival is the LDV Mifa 9 priced from $109K plus on-road costs. It seats seven, has 180kW and 350Nm, and has a 90kWh battery good for 440km. The Mifa 9 has a maximum charging capacity of 11kW AC and 120kW DC.
On the grey market, near-new Toyota Alphard hybrid people movers can be found for around $110–$130K.
The EQV is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty that is capped at 250,000km for commercial users. The battery pack is covered for eight years and 160,000km.
Servicing is recommended every year or 40,000km, whichever comes first. Servicing costs start from $1252 for three years, rising to $2149 for five years.
No insurance estimate was available at the time of writing.
|At a glance||2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km (250,000km for commercial use)|
|Service intervals||12 months or 40,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1252 (3 years)
$2149 (5 years)
Is the Mercedes-Benz EQV energy-efficient?
The EQV has a 90kWh battery powering a 150kW/365Nm electric motor driving the front wheels. Mercedes claims an average energy consumption of 26.3kWh/100km and an indicative driving range of 418km.
Now, if you’re like me, and you look at those numbers in depth, you’ll realise they make no sense. If the EQV300 consumes 26.3kWh per 100km, then a 90kW battery pack can only do 340km.
Automotive batteries do not like being fully drained, and many have software code in place to reduce vehicle functions when the battery drops below 10 or even five per cent. So, assuming the Benz doesn’t like dropping below 10 per cent, the real real-world range is closer to 310km.
For what it’s worth, we recorded an average energy consumption of 23.9kWh/100km during the EQV300’s week with us.
Mercedes-Benz says the EQV can recharge at up to 11kW AC or 110kW DC, which is below the industry’s best of 22kW AC and 350kW DC but liveable if you’re not in a hurry. Mercedes-Benz claims the EQV can recharge from 10 to 80 per cent in 45 minutes.
The EQV comes with a one-year complimentary Chargefox subscription.
|Energy Efficiency||Energy Stats|
|Energy cons. (claimed)||26.3kWh/100km|
|Energy cons. (on test)||23.9kWh/100km|
|Driving range claim (NEDC)||418km|
|Charge time (11kW)||11h|
|Charge time (110kW max rate)||45min (claimed 10–80%)|
What is the Mercedes-Benz EQV like to drive?
The Mercedes-Benz EQV is a perfectly capable and functional car, but it is not up to modern standards in a number of key areas.
Firstly, when you twist the carryover key, mechanical fans can be heard starting up and are surprisingly loud – louder than some petrol and diesel engines at idle. Step back outside the van while it’s running and the fans really puncture the EV serenity, and can be a little embarrassing when an EV-mad neighbour comes over for a look and scrunches up his face at the whining and whirring.
In the two most economical driving modes (E+ and E) the EQV’s accelerator is quite lethargic and requires a good push to get moving. This is less noticeable in Comfort mode, but in both Comfort and Sport there is a tangible delay between pressing the accelerator and the vehicle actually accelerating.
On the move, the EQV has a good amount of power and torque to move its 2.7-tonne body (unladen). It’s no rocket ship – my passenger timed one 0–100km/h acceleration run at a plodding 11.5sec using the speedo and a smartphone – but it’s certainly up to the task of suburban and highway driving.
The vehicle’s high bodysides do catch crosswinds from time to time, but the steering system’s Crosswind Assist function does a good job minimising the need for driver correction.
The brake pedal, like the accelerator pedal, is not very responsive and requires a solid push to get decent retardation. Alternately, drivers can use the different brake energy recuperation modes (D–, D-, D and D+) to do some of the slowing for them whenever they lift off the accelerator.
The Benz also has a DAuto mode that uses the vehicle’s cruise-control radars to sense traffic ahead and decide whether to brake or coast when the driver lifts off the accelerator.
The EQV’s biggest issue is its suspension tune. Benz has fitted this vehicle with Airmatic air suspension, but it simply doesn’t live up to luxury car expectations. The EQV, as we’ve said repeatedly, is based on a commercial van, so it’s unfair to expect the ride to be on par with a $170K saloon. But it’s well below that.
The EQV has a very busy ride, transmitting more bumps through to the cabin than it irons out. It doesn’t deal well with road joins or worn tarmac, and takes time to settle down after hits or undulations.
As for low-speed manoeuvring, a vehicle with this much interior space is obviously going to need more space than most to turn around. It measures 5.14m in length, 1.91m tall and 1.93m wide (not including wing mirrors), and all that needs to be remembered when navigating tight spaces like carparks and garages.
For the record, Mercedes-Benz says the EQV has a turning circle circumference of 12.9m, which is 1–2m more than usual for a seven-seat SUV and 1.1m more than the equivalent (but rear-wheel drive) V-Class. But light low-speed steering and the 360-degree cameras make tight manoeuvres as easy as they can be in a bus of this size.
|Key details||2023 Mercedes-Benz EQV300|
|Engine||Single electric motor|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Spare tyre type||Temporary use|
Should I buy a Mercedes-Benz EQV?
The Mercedes-Benz EQV is an interesting car that raises as many questions as it answers.
To be fair, Mercedes-Benz deserves credit for being the first to bring a people-mover EV to the Australian market, even if it held that exclusivity for little more than a week. The reality is, because of its price, age and limited usability, it is not going to lure many people-mover drivers way from ICE.
The EQV’s electric powertrain is efficient and effective, but noisy – I don’t think I’ve ever criticised an electric vehicle for excessive noise before, so there’s a first. It also has an uncouth ride and lacks the creature comforts, gadgets and gizmos that modern vehicles of this price usually have.
But it is spacious – ridiculously so – and in urban use, plugged in overnight, removes the need for traditional service station stops. For well-heeled large families keen to keep their eco-footprint as small as possible, the EQV surely hits the spot.
If you’re looking for the best-value EV people mover, then the EQV is the only one we’ve thoroughly tested and therefore the only one we’d recommend. That may change once we spend more time in the LDV Mifa 9, which is priced well below the EQV.
If you’re looking for the best-value Mercedes-Benz people mover, then we’d recommend saving $50,000 and parking a diesel-powered V300 in your driveway instead.
If you’re a large family on a budget, then buy a Carnival for one-third of the price.
As for Benz’s suggestion that businesses might find the EQV to their liking, they will need to decide if the vehicle’s 350km useable range and 10-hour recharging time is a usage cycle they can accommodate.
Or they can move closer to an ultra-fast charger and absorb the cost of a worker sitting there for up to an hour while the EQV recharges.