While we were in Germany enjoying a long stint behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz EQE 2023, our workers took a short ride from the Mercedes-Benz EQB 2022 as the first taste of the small battery-powered SUV that goes on sale in the US later this year. While the EQE is highly advanced in every respect — advanced aerodynamics, intergalactic sensor array, Hyperscreen sci-fi, and tapered silence — the EQB is brighter, lighter, easier to use and more fun to drive.
This literal brightness. The straight, gas-powered GLB’s shape is unchanged for the electric version, and tall windows welcome heaps of light into the cabin and provide a much better view than we saw through the EQE’s pressurized greenhouse.
External changes from GLB to EQB are few. The only way this will be recognized as an all-electric model is on the front by a black grille covered with a full-width LED light strip and at the rear by a full-width LED strip connecting the taillights. EQB will also offer an exclusive exterior color and rose gold wheel options, as well as blue accents, depending on the option packages selected.
There are some subtle tweaks to the aerodynamics. Air passes through embossed front fenders into active lower shutters, the front and rear hatch spoilers are reshaped, there’s a fully enclosed, ribbed lower floor, and wheel designs are changed. These efforts lower the drag coefficient from the 0.31 recorded by the GLB 250 4Matic to 0.28.
The interior of the EQB keeps the passenger space in the GLB, and also offers a third row pint volume as an option. The cargo room, however, is dwindling. The EQB gives up up to five cubic feet of luggage space depending on how the second and third rows are arranged.
Compared to EQE, the size of the technical pool has been greatly reduced. The 10.3-inch digital combination and 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is the full display of interactive displays. Header width is an option. Once on the road, the EQB is analog and essentially mute. Nothing here but driving.
Mercedes lists the curb weight of the EQB 350 4Matic we drove at 4,795 pounds, making it 1,000 pounds heavier than its gasoline counterpart. This lower weight distribution in the chassis acts like an all-around damper, tamping bumps off-road around town as well as counteracting rolling through twisty bits.
However, the EQB is 400 pounds lighter than the EQE 350 4Matic. And the EQB 350 4Matic produces the same 288 horsepower as the EQE 350, and the 384 pound-feet of torque is a little less, so those who lost 400 pounds feel their absence when accelerating or cornering. (The 225 hp, 288 lb-ft EQB 300 4Matic will also be offered.) The EQB’s electric motors also beat the slow throttle we inherited in the GLB 250 4Matic, with the result that a pigeon crossed over serpentine roads outside Stuttgart looks more like an AMG GLB 35 .
With a 66.5 kWh battery, the European WLTP range number is achieved at 260 miles. The EPA-rated number will be lower, though we don’t expect the EQB to end up far behind the Audi Q4 E-tron and Volkswagen ID.4 — the competition that Mercedes-Benz is targeting. According to Mercedes, connecting to a DC fast charger with a maximum case charge rate of 100 kW takes the battery from 10 percent to 80 percent in 32 minutes.
EQB welcomes drivers into the world of e-fuel engines without the risk of digital overload, making it a stepping stone to EQE in ways more than platform, price and model designation. Both EVs are amazing for different reasons. EQE wants to be everything you need and everything you can imagine needing for the foreseeable electric future, but its learning curve is long. By contrast, the EQB is a familiar, practical and practical city car that also has a bit of electric bugaloo along its fun two-lane back roads. For anyone who finds GLB attractive, there is nothing here not to like.
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