Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX: first ride in radical 626-mile EV

We rode in Stuttgart’s revolutionary electric saloon concept. It covered just 1000km on one charge.

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXXX is a future-proof road car.

With a super-slippery shape, extreme low-rolling-resistance tyres on narrow wheels, lightweight construction that draws on a new bionic casting process and an advanced electric drivetrain featuring a rear-mounted motor as well as a state-of-the-car CTP (cell-to-pack) battery, its mission is simple: deliver the longest possible range using the least possible electricity.

The Mercedes-Benz board established this mission to encourage engineers to develop solutions for upcoming production cars.

The Vision EQXX is the product of two years of development, testing and conception. It’s a fully functional saloon that was seen last week as it drove 626 miles on a single battery at an average speed 54.3 mph, from Mercedes’ Stuttgart development center in Germany to the company’s Nice design studio in France.

The unique concept, which had a sealed charging port, averaged 8.7kWh per 100 km. It’s also claimed to have reached Nice with more that 87 miles remaining.

This is a good example of how the Mercedes-Benz EQE saloon uses a 90.6kWh lithium battery. It boasts a WLTP consumption figure between 15.9 to 18.7kWh per 100km. That gives it a range that spans 410 miles.

These are impressive figures, especially when you consider that they were recorded in wintery conditions with temperatures as low at 3deg C, high winds, and snow flurries along portions of the route. The trip covered four countries and included two rest stops for 15 minutes (without charging). They’re not as fascinating as the Vision EQXXX in person under blue skies.

It was created in close collaboration with Mercedes-Benz’s aerodynamic and design teams. It has smooth surfaces and stretched proportions.

Mercedes is not content with a teardrop-shaped car with fared-in wheels to maximize aerodynamic potential, but has created a car that offers the same level of accommodation as a regular production vehicle. It also features four front-hinged doors.

The front has a sport car-like appearance with a low lead edge, large wheelhouses, and shaped fenders.

The Mercedes trademark grille has been replaced with a star graphic in the front bumper. Digital LED headlamps are connected by a full-width LED bar.

The so-called Air Control System directs air through the front using a series if air breathers and air curtains.

Mercedes also opted for traditional rear-view lenses over wind-cheating cameras. These mirrors are smaller than the ones on current production models but still achieve aerodynamic efficiency.

Further back, A-pillars are well placed forward. The Vision EQXX’s cabin taper towards the rear giving it a more rounded appearance than the rear wheels. The rear track is 50mm wider than the front.

The unique 20in rims have been completely blasted to reduce wind buffeting in the wheelhouses. They are shod in 185/65-profile Bridgestone Toranza Eco tires, whose profile and compound have been specifically designed for this car.

The rear is what really makes the car stand out. The boot lid’s trailing edge and the sides are adorned with a full-width light graphic. The rear attraction is the diffuser which extends automatically outwards.

All this leads to a drag coefficient 0.17Cd, which is the lowest Mercedes has ever achieved on a road-legal vehicle.

Teddy Woll, the director of aerodynamics at EQXX, said that the EQXX has a small frontal area (just 2.12m2).

He says that on a typical motorway, up to two-thirds the energy from the battery is used for aerodynamic drag.

The rear-wheel drive Mercedes EQS450+ is the most aerodynamic production road vehicle. It boasts a drag coefficient 0.20Cd, and an area frontal of 2.51m2.

The Vision EQXX measures 4977mm long, 1870mm wide, and 1350mm high. It is 31mm longer than the EQE, 91mm wider, and 162mm shorter than the EQE. It rides on a shorter wheelbase than Mercedes’ electric-powered saloon at 2800mm, which is 310mm.

The new Mercedes concept weighs in at 1755kg, which is 285kg more than the Mercedes-Benz EQA 250.

The futuristically designed four-door saloon is almost silent when it arrives in Mercedes’ design center car park. It features four individual leather seats and a leather-lined interior. Although there is a slight whine coming from the electric motor, and some whirring as power electronics come to life, it is not something you won’t hear in production-based electric vehicles. The whole car feels and looks production-like in many ways.

The EQXXX’s basis is a unique rear-wheel driven platform. It claims to contain elements of the MMA structure that will be used in production models beginning 2024. The floorpan houses a 495kg lithium ion battery. It is described as having a energy content of “around 100kWh”, and uses the CTP (cell to pack) silicon anode technology by Chinese company CATL. It operates at 900V. Continue reading below Advertisement

A new electric motor, developed by Mercedes’ German-based engineering group and its HPP division in Brixworth (England), produces power. It is located in the rear axle and has a rating of 188 bhp.

The concept is easy to enter despite its low height. The four doors are wide open to allow for a large opening and easy entry. Mercedes standards have the front seats with hard shell backs, which provide firm cushioning and minimal support. The floor is flat. Once you’re inside, it proves quite sporting in character.

The excellent view through the windscreen’s heavy angle is superb, but the view behind it is obstructed by the array of 117 solar cell that is used to charge the 12V battery.

The dashboard is low and provides a comfortable feel. The dashboard supports a multi-function steering column and a 1100mm wide 8K curved digital screen. This panel houses a range of real-time data including the important power consumption readout.

Although the head of the windscreens is a bit too close to your head due to the heavy rake, there are many things to love about the interior, which has a leather-lined design.

Friedemann Flache is the man behind the wheel of the Vision EQXX. He was one of the four engineers who were nominated to drive it.

He says, “It’s very simple.” It doesn’t require a special driving style, but to get the most out of it, you must anticipate possible situations in advance.

The Vision EQXX’s high-tech drivetrain makes a lasting impression as you head out onto the public roads of Nice and beyond. This unique engineering concept is rare, but it feels completely at ease in both stop-and-go traffic and progressing along arterial roads.

Flache opens a menu that will allow us to deploy the rear diffuser when we have cleared the suburbs. The dashboard displays the operation of the rear diffuser. This allows you to see how it extends out to optimize the aerodynamics.

The young engineer is always keeping an eye on how much electric energy is being used. He says that we try to maintain it at around 10-15kWh per 100km.

There are four levels to regenerative brake, which can be activated by steering wheel-mounted paddles. The EQXXX is usually engaged in D-–, which provides strong deceleration when you lift the throttle.

Flache says that once you get used to the different regeneration modes, the brakes don’t require much physical effort. There were times during my Stuttgart-to-Nice test driving where I had to use them. The paddles were my mainstay, however.

Despite its obvious focus on efficiency, rear-wheel drive EQXXX still has a sporty feel to it on the road. Flache can fully unleash the motor’s power and it is quite responsive in traffic.

Like all Mercedes’ EVs, the drive is controlled by a single-speed gearbox. The low-slung saloon accelerates with the proper intent, before traffic slows down. We then settle into a smooth cruise. Although it has the potential for much more, it is limited to 87mph.

Flache says that it was more of a precautionary measure than anything else. Flache explains that the motor and its ancillaries had been thoroughly tested in a Mercedes Benz EQB prototype before they were approved for use in the concept.

There is very little wind noise. The EQXXX is the most aerodynamic Mercedes car, and it can plow the air with razor-sharp efficiency. The dull roar of narrow tyres is what grabs your attention at motorway speeds.

The EQXX has a lower overall height than other Mercedes production models and a flat-floor battery. This makes it more cornerable than any other Mercedes model.

The passenger seat is in the front, but the vehicle changes direction very smartly and appears to be fluid as it turns down a backroad at a reasonable speed. It’s so solid that you forget it’s not a production model but a technological testbed.

There is very little body roll when there’s minimal suspension travel. It also helps to make the ride a bit fidgety, thanks to firm springs and dampers as well as tyres with high pressure to reduce rolling resistance. As you would expect from a unique concept, it isn’t harsh. It could use some additional road shock absorption.

The EQXXX is clever, entertaining and compelling, and shows how EVs will progress over the next few years. It won’t be put into production. Many of its key features are being improved with the intention to incorporate them into future Mercedes production models. Continue reading below Advertisement

It’s possible to get 600 miles on one charge with the latest advances in aerodynamics and tyre technology.

Let’s hope that they get to models we can afford.