Mercedes Vision EQXX, radiant electricity

Imagine an electric car that will allow you to connect Brest to Lyon with one battery charge, i.e. almost 1,000 km without any compromise in speed, comfort or, above all, driving pleasure.

Can not? 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 technologies, aerodynamic developments and lightweight construction that the brand is seeking for future production models.

Unlike most concepts, which are usually simple rolling models, this one is street legal. Better: it promises a yield of 10 kWh per 100 km at legal highway speed, against 15.6 kWh / 100 km for the excellent (but heavy) EQS.

With a 100 kWh battery integrated into its flat floor, it provides a theoretical range of over 1,000 kilometers. 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. With their silicon anode they are said to deliver an energy density of up to 400Wh per liter, making them more energy efficient than the cells used in 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 demonstrated 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 is achieved by a team of highly trained test pilots who have real-time access to all the information generated by a headquarters full of data loggers and constant contact with radio engineers at the Mercedes base in Germany.

However, Mercedes is so confident in the Vision EQXX’s ability to hit the high performance targets of any driver behind the wheel that it just threw me the key and told me to drive and find out with my own what is possible. This is not just a low-speed round trip, but a journey along a series of winding roads in and around the sprawling R&D center of Immendingen.

Before I get into the driver’s seat and press 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 starting point for Vision EQXX is a prototype known as Emma.  Built last year, it was used to test the packaging and durability of the concept's high-tech driveline and the various software programs that allow it to achieve such extraordinary savings figures.
The starting point for Vision EQXX is a prototype known as Emma. Built last year, it was used to test the packaging and durability of the concept’s high-tech driveline and the various software programs that allow it to achieve such extraordinary savings figures.

The vehicle itself is largely adapted, including the platform, which is a distant cousin of 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 tall, 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.

The teardrop shape contributes to an unprecedented Cx of 0.17 and impressive energy efficiency.  Thanks to a high-strength steel body structure, carbon fiber doors and aluminum brake discs, among other weight-saving measures, the package weighs 1755 kg.
The teardrop shape contributes to an unprecedented Cx of 0.17 and impressive energy efficiency. Thanks to a high-strength steel body structure, carbon fiber doors and aluminum brake discs, among other weight-saving measures, the package weighs 1755 kg.

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. Driving the rear wheels through a one-speed gearbox.

The driver’s door opens wide, making it easy to get in despite the relatively low height. The clamshell front seat, with firm cushioning but little lateral support, is positioned very low, but has no dedicated footrests while the pedals are placed high, creating a sporty driving position. . Rear visibility is non-existent, as an array of solar cells covers the entire roof and the space normally dedicated to the rear window.

Start: Mercedes Vision EQXX, bright electric

The dashboard is relatively low and has a 110 cm wide 8K curved digital display panel. The touchscreen unit has several menus and data, including wind direction, which is measured by three small sensors on the front. Everything is very elegant, but it’s not just for show. Everything works as you would expect in a regular Mercedes.

To continue, you pull the Direct Shift column stick toward P and push the throttle, just like any production EQ model. We can see the typical smoothness of electric motors when running. Performance is good right off the bat and it feels quick under load all the way up to the mandated top speed of 140 km/h.

But with Mercedes engineers remotely tracking my every move, now was not the time to try to speed up the engine. Instead, we settled on a loop course to see how close we were to the savings figure achieved by 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 temperatures pushing 30 degrees in the midday sun, we decided that wasn’t a good idea.

All the functions go through the big touch screen, like aboard a production car.
All the functions go through the big touch screen, like aboard a production car.

At average highway speeds, the Vision EQXX is perfectly refined. Apart from the silent nature of the electric motor, there is an almost complete absence of aerodynamic disturbance. Here the rear diffuser deploys to elongate the body, reducing underbody turbulence and providing more longitudinal stability. There are four regenerative braking modes, which are 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 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 resistance 185/65 R20 tires, which were made specifically for Bridgestone’s concept. Constantly juggling between different modes raises and lowers consumption, which proves both stimulating and fun.

From the driver’s point of view, there is a lot to enjoy. It starts with the layout of the driving wheels. The steering wheel is surprisingly accurate, although a bit heavy, while the location of the battery on the floor induces a low center of gravity, to the benefit of maneuverability.

The suspension is heavily damped to ensure a consistent ride height and the best possible aerodynamics.  On the mostly smooth German roads we drove, the ride was perfectly acceptable.  It is firm but not hard.
The suspension is heavily damped to ensure a consistent ride height and the best possible aerodynamics. On the mostly smooth German roads we drove, the ride was perfectly acceptable. It is firm but not hard.

With excellent forward visibility and a relatively narrow width, the Vision EQXX is easy to place on the road, where it has proven to be very flexible. Then we note that the concept has already shown more than 16,000 km on the clock, proof that it is not just a saloon animal. In fact, the EQXX feels perfectly at home on a variety of different roads, both at low and high speeds.

Right now, it’s hard to say how much automotive technology Mercedes’ next electric models will have. But as a display of intent, it’s very impressive.

The longer you drive it, the more convincing it becomes. We feel it is mature enough to go into production now. Such thoughts, however, do not take into account the costs involved in making them…

When we reached the end of our test drive, the data logger showed 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 did better than the Mercedes with 12 km per kWh, despite using air conditioning and carrying a passenger. Brest-Lyon from a battery charge? No problem at all. In fact, according to our calculations, you can push even further…

© Greg Kable / Coach

The quality of this car is amazing.  We've ridden many unique concepts over the years, but few, if any, have matched the overall integrity of the EQXX's construction.  In this particular segment, it even puts many production cars to shame.
The quality of this car is amazing. We’ve ridden many unique concepts over the years, but few, if any, have matched the overall integrity of the EQXX’s construction. In this particular segment, it even puts many production cars to shame.

To be remembered

Price: not for sale!

Permanent magnet synchronous motor

Power 241 hp

Transmission: 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.)

Start: Mercedes Vision EQXX, bright electric

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