The 2022 Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX pushes the boundaries

It’s easy for a whimsical concept car to look interesting under the dramatic lighting of an auto show display or a corporate music video — a brand’s future, in the present. But few concepts go beyond this stage, and even fewer ply real roads with other motorists, even less with rambling journalists behind the wheel. That’s what makes the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX so special: for all its futuristic EV design, it’s essentially a demonstration of cutting-edge engineering meant to be driven.

After showing off the EQXX earlier this year at the CES tech show, Mercedes was quick to prove the car’s real-world bona fide with two long-distance jaunts across Europe, including the most long – from Stuttgart, Germany, to Silverstone, England, where it hot-rolled the famed racing circuit – saw the EQXX cover 747 miles on a single charge of its battery, which stores just under 100, 0 kWh. The feat is impressive enough for a vehicle developed in just 18 months, but it also bodes well for a range of future Mercedes electric vehicles that will build on the EQXX’s suite of advancements.

Parked on the tarmac at the company’s proving ground in Immendingen, Germany, the EQXX looks otherworldly. Roughly the size of a low-slung, teardrop-swept compact sedan, its tiny, bubble-shaped frontal area contrasts with a substantial side profile that spans a 110.2-inch wheelbase. Its exaggerated Kamm tail adds significant length, especially when the active rear diffuser protrudes 7.8 inches at 37 mph. Interesting details abound, such as the sidewalls of specially developed Bridgestone tires which, when viewed from above, sit flush with both the 20-inch magnesium wheels and the carbon fiber body, contributing greatly to the slippery drag coefficient of the 0.17 car. Conventional but neatly sculpted side mirrors adorn the doors, their minimal drag penalty ultimately deemed more efficient than the power draw that would be required by a low-profile camera-based setup.

A pull on the EQXX’s motorized door handle reveals the boundless interior of a show car, yet surprisingly comfortable and functional. From the driver’s seat, cabin space is at odds with how little of the front of the car you can see through the windshield. While there are a few 3D printed parts we’re told to be gentle with, the steering wheel and basic controls are familiar Mercedes things, making it easy to get your bearings in what is an almost priceless one-of-a-kind piece. . Ignore the judicious use of light work and ambient lighting, and the presence of eco-friendly materials – cactus-derived trim panels, mushroom-based seat inserts and high-pile carpeted floor mats in bamboo fiber – are both attractive and heralds of what could filter down to future production models.

Drive away and the EQXX’s claimed curb weight (for an EV) of 3900 pounds is immediately apparent. Although the rear-mounted radial-flow motor only produces 241 horsepower, thrust is plentiful and the light, almost delicate steering is incredibly tactile even at pedestrian speeds. With little powertrain hum or air turbulence to ruffle the ambience, the main distraction is tire noise caused by the car’s poor amount of soundproofing. The general vibe is one of responsiveness and good integration, despite the fact that the EQXX – with its 7.0 second 60mph time and electronically limited top speed of 87mph – is by no means tuned for spirited driving.

Along with the slippery shape and relatively balanced weight, the car’s claimed 95% powertrain efficiency (compared to around 90% for Benz’s EQS production sedan) also contributes to its impressive range. Although the EQXX doesn’t charge as quickly as its 900-volt architecture suggests, it’s so frugal with electrons that just a few minutes on an outlet network gives it significant extra battery life. Likewise, the handful of kilowatts harvested by the 117 solar cells on its roof, which are only used to power accessories, translate into significant mileage gains. With minimal mechanical and aerodynamic drag, the EQXX rolls effortlessly over flat terrain without losing speed. Using the efficient active air-cooling of the battery and its electronics, Mercedes engineers met the unusual challenge of getting the EQXX’s engine to produce enough heat to reach its optimum operating temperature.

While our ride was brief on the hilly roads that wind around the Immendingen facility, we soon learned the thrill of controlling the EQXX’s momentum via regenerative braking. Pick up some speed and he can glide around corners with ease, the mass of the floor-mounted battery anchoring his body movements well. Toggle the steering wheel paddles through the four stages of regeneration, from none to full one-pedal operation, can quickly slow the car for tight turns and intersections. That’s one of the reasons the EQXX can get away with ultralight aluminum brake discs, rather than conventional cast iron or even carbon-ceramic discs. Once acclimated, we barely touched the left pedal. At the end of the day, our overall energy consumption—in air-conditioned comfort—equated to 262 mpg in a gas-powered car.

Mercedes being the engineering giant, we got all sorts of telemetry from our reader that showed where we could have been even more efficient. But much of that data, from energy recuperation to airflow over the car’s body, was also available in real time through the EQXX’s 47.5-inch pillar-to-pillar touchscreen. , which is rendered in 8K resolution by a video game engine. While bordering on distracting with its brilliant graphics and wealth of information, this screen also features wonderfully interactive navigation data and is easily configurable for uncluttered reading at a glance. It’s even power-stingy, actively dimming sections of LEDs that aren’t being used. Although we didn’t familiarize ourselves with its artificial intelligence which acts as a personal assistant, the system offers a glimpse of the next generation of Mercedes’ user interface.

But the significance of the EQXX goes beyond being a platform for a futuristic big-screen TV. Mercedes has already confirmed that the car’s powertrain – interestingly, developed in a modified rear-drive version of the new EQB SUV – will reach production in some form by 2024. The company’s Formula 1 specialists , who were able to design the concept battery to be 50% smaller and 30% lighter than the equally powerful EQS pack. And from the mushroom padding to the unique aluminum skeleton-type rear subframe of the chassis, the EQXX’s advancements in materials science are sure to extend to many future Benzes and AMGs. In short, the influence of the EQXX will be considerable, which is more than can be said for most concept cars.


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