Less than six months after its launch, Mercedes-Benz has replaced the EQB 300 with the EQB 350. This gives it more power and torque, but the only exterior changes are a new wheel design and a new badge. It gets the same 66.5kWh battery pack, dual-motor set-up and claimed range as before. To find out what all this feels like, we took it on a round trip from the Autocar India office in Mumbai, all the way to Mahabaleshwar – a 273km-long route that includes city chaos, highway cruising and a climb of over 4,000 feet, with some exciting twisties.
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 performance, battery, charging
At the crack of dawn, with 100 percent charge and a displayed range of 364-401km, we started on Eco mode and made a swift and silent exit from the city, crossing the Vashi toll 24km later, and eventually on to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Here, the added 130Nm of torque became a lot more evident. It now stands at a strong 520Nm, making quick overtakes a breeze, but what’s more impressive is how that torque is deployed. It is expected to be instantaneous in EVs, but the EQB has been tuned to be subdued and linear. As a result, even mashing your foot down results in a responsive but linear surge.
As the FASTag blipped open the barrier at the first expressway toll at Khalapur, we were at 84 percent with 74km covered, and an efficiency of 6.9km/kWh. But just 13km later, we were caught in a gridlocked traffic jam; 45 minutes of inching forward, and uphill, hit efficiency hard.
We crossed the second toll at Talegaon after a relaxing drive with 123km on the trip, 67 percent battery, and a range of 270km. A quick check-in with Mahabaleshwar revealed it was all jammed up ahead thanks to summer vacations, and to make matters worse, most charging stations were occupied. Thankfully, the Crystal Kia dealership just outside Pune has a 150kW charger, and the EQB’s 400V battery architecture lets it charge at up to 100kW, resulting in a 30-minute stop for 27.72kWh that costs just Rs 748. This meant I could skip the charging queues at Mahabaleshwar for the return leg.
With a brimmed battery, I could fully enjoy the Khambatki Ghat; its swooping, race-track-like corners making for a good handling test. The light steering helps turn this 5+2-seater with ease, and even though it isn’t a born EV, the underfloor battery pack lowers the centre of gravity, and that helps contain body roll despite the tall stance. However, just 6km of uphill on the Khambatki drained 14km of range, a prelude to the even steeper climb still to come.
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 ride and handling, recuperation modes
Still, as we turned right onto the Mahabaleshwar road, the numbers stood strong – 228km on the trip, 312km of range and 77 percent SOC. On the narrow roads leading up to Mahabaleshwar, the added power and torque impressed again, with the 63 new horses making scything between enthusiastic cabbies and overloaded buses unfussed. The twisty roads and ample range had me reaching for Sport mode, which makes the EQB almost as responsive as a sportscar. If the 300 was just about enough, the 350 is a proper hoot.
On the way up, I had the recuperation set to D+ to avoid the car from bogging down with every lift-off because that would require me to use more battery. As we reached our destination, the decision to charge on the way proved to be worthwhile as the EV chargers at the hill station were occupied by Nexons and Tigors, with even more waiting in line.
All set to head back, the indicated range on the EQB was 223km and my destination 273km away, but since it was all downhill, surely I could make up the difference with recuperation. It was all about shuffling between D and D-, using the paddle shifters, which further adds to the driver’s involvement. A neat touch is a readout dubbed ‘Bonus’ that tells you how many kilometres you gained from regen. However, the blending between regen and the actual friction brakes is not great; the initial response from the pedal is weak, and while more forceful braking helps, doing this feels jerky, especially at low speeds.
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 interior, features
As darkness approached, the EQB’s very special interior lit up. It truly is a well-appointed cabin with all the features you expect of a car at this price point; the only exception being ventilated seats. Seat kinetics is particularly good – it makes small adjustments to the seat bolsters, lumbar and backrest, so you’re never in the same position for too long. Add to that a planted ride, a good amount of sidewall on the 18-inch tyres, a fantastically insulated cabin, and a superb 10-speaker audio system, and you are as fresh as you can be by the end of the drive.
By the time we reached Pune, the range had already overtaken the distance thanks to all the downhill driving. We made it back to Mumbai with 8 percent charge left and 40km in the bank with zero range anxiety. However, we are adopting EVs so rapidly that even though the charging infrastructure is catching up, charging time is the real challenge now.
Mercedes-Benz EQB 350 price, verdict
If the 300 was just about enough, the 350 is a proper hoot.
As for the EQB, there was very little to complain about over this thorough test. We even packed the boot with all our shoot equipment and some luggage, since the last row was not going to be used. The camera crew in the middle row was comfortable enough to snooze through almost the entire return leg. At Rs 77.5 lakh – Rs 3 lakh more than the 300 – it is also in a space of its own. The Volvo XC40 Recharge is cheaper, but doesn’t have the practicality of the third row or the features, and the Audi e-tron and Jaguar i-Pace are substantially more expensive. The 300 was good, but the 350 is simply better and a lot more convincing as the only car in your garage.