Mercedes-Benz EQB review

Mercedes-Benz EQB

You’re not exactly spoilt for choice if you’re looking for an electric vehicle with seven seats. We test one of the few – the Mercedes-Benz EQB 350….

Based on the conventionally powered GLB, the EQB is a premium SUV about the same size as a BMW X3, Volvo XC60 or Lexus NX.

A handsome yet boxy sports utility vehicle with a high roofline, short overhangs and plenty of glass, it’s priced from £55,310-  £62,810.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Powered by two electric motors connected to a 66.5kWh battery, it’s available in two specs – an EQB 300 or 350 – and three trim levels (AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus).

The naming convention is a little confusing because the EQB 300 puts out 224bhp, while the 350 has 287bhp, but there you go.

Range varies from a claimed 246 miles for the EQB 300 to 253 miles for the EQB 350. The latter has a 6.2-second 0-62mph time, while the less powerful version is a tad slower at eight seconds. Both come with four-wheel drive as standard.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

The EQB can be charged at speeds up to 100kW (which is average these days), meaning a 10-80% boost from a 100kW rapid charger takes as little as 32 minutes, while a 0-100% charge can be achieved overnight via a home wallbox.

As you’d expect from a vehicle sporting a three-pointed star, it’s a plush motor.

The driving position is comfortable and the supportive seats in our test car were upholstered in black Artico man-made leather.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Rear passengers are also in for a treat because there’s ample leg and headroom.

We tried the third row, and even though the pop-up seats officially can be used by people up to 5ft 4 inches tall, it is possible for six-footers to squeeze in for brief trips if the second row seats are pushed forward a bit, but it is a knees-up seating position.

With five seats in place, the EQB offers a generous 465-litre capacity. Flip down the second and third rows and you’ll have an estate car-like 1,710 litres to play with.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Up front, it’s virtually the same as the GLB, which is no bad thing, though the design is starting to look a little dated in these minimalist times.

All models have Mercedes’ familiar MBUX dual-screen infotainment system with 10-inch screens for the slick infotainment and driver’s displays. There are also three large air vents and a row of physical switches below for climate control.

You’ll have to get used to the Mercedes-Benz quirk of the left-hand steering wheel stalk operating both the indicator and wipers, front and back.  The gear selector is another stalk on the other side.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Selected functions of the multimedia system can be operated contact-free via the MBUX Interior Assistant. Controlled via voice, touch or optional gesture input, the innovative system can over time even predict personal habits thanks to artificial intelligence. As ever with these systems, it’s not perfect, but improving with each iteration.

Adjustable heated front sports seats, automatic climate control, privacy glass, a reversing camera, lane keep assist and speed limit assist are just a few of the extensive list of goodies and tech available as standard on the EQB.

On the road, our EQB 350 test car was surprisingly fast off the line for a fairly substantial vehicle, and as you’d expect, the power delivery was effortless.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Drive modes include Eco, Comfort and Sport, plus you can also choose between five levels of brake regeneration (the clever Auto setting worked really well).

Frankly, you’ll never need to stray from the Comfort setting because Eco dulls the throttle response too much and Sport makes it hyperactive, so it’s best left for short, energy-sapping blasts.

The EQB rides smoothly and handles its bulk well. Sure, there’s some body lean in faster corners, but it is possible to have some fun in this vehicle, unlike some SUVs. With progressive brakes, sharp steering and excellent traction, it gives you the confidence to push on.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Composed and feeling nothing other than well planted, the Mercedes-Benz EQB is a superbly comfortable cruiser.

All in all, the EQB is a bit of a surprise package, but there’s no getting away from the range issue and its modest charge rate, especially if you need it for regular longer journeys. With a real-world range closer to 200 miles, more adventurous trips are going to need a bit of planning.

But if an EQB is used for shorter commutes, shopping trips and school runs, it’s a fab EV – especially if you can charge at home overnight.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Its few three-row EV rivals include the expensive Tesla Model X, the cheaper Peugeot e-Rifter, Citroen e-Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo-e Life, plus larger van-based people carriers such as the Citroen e-SpaceTourer, Peugeot e-Traveller, Vauxhall Vivaro-e Life and Nissan e-NV200 Combi.

Verdict: Not only is the Mercedes-Benz EQB one of the few pure electric seven-seater SUVs on the market, it’s also more engaging to drive than you might think. Safe, spacious, refined, well built and packed with tech, it’s a class act.

Mercedes-Benz UK

Dacia Jogger review

Dacia Jogger

Every now and again a new car rocks up that takes me by complete surprise. Believe it or not, the Dacia Jogger is one such vehicle.

The headline is that this latest model from Renault’s Romanian budget brand is the cheapest seven-seater on the market – by a long chalk.

The reality is that it’s a remarkably affordable family car that can genuinely seat seven people (I’m just under 6ft and I can fit in the third row), which is more than you can say for some other supposed seven-seaters for more than twice the price.

Dacia Jogger

The cheap and cheerful Jogger range starts at just £14,995 and it’s hard to categorise because it’s the length of an estate car, has the ground clearance some crossovers, and yet boasts the interior versality of a people carrier, or even a LAV (Leisure Activity Vehicle).

There are three trim levels – Essential, Comfort and Extreme SE. The former comes with cruise control, air conditioning, LED lights and rear parking sensors as standard.

Comfort, which is likely to be the most popular option, gets keyless entry, an electronic handbrake, automatic wipers and a rear parking camera, while Extreme SE adds heated front seats, interior floor mats, sat nav and a few rufty-tufty exterior styling tweaks.

Dacia Jogger

Comfort and Extreme get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but you’ll have to use your smartphone for media and navigation duties on an entry-level Essential model.

So, the Jogger follows in the same successful wheel-tracks as its siblings – the Sandero, Sandero Stepway and Duster – which is no-frills motoring at a bargain price.

It shares its attractive front end, complete with straked LED headlights, with the recently launched Sandero, while its profile is certainly distinctive (and long), but it won’t win a rear of the year contest.

Dacia Jogger

That said, it is a clever design because the rear gently rises up, allowing stacks of headroom and visibility inside for passengers in the stadium-style second row of seats, where there’s already impressive legroom.

The huge tailgate opens to reveal just 213 litres of cargo space with the third row of seats in place.  As a five-seater, you get a massive 699 litres of space. Fold these down and remove the third row of seats (easily done) and there’s a van-like 2,085-litre load bay.

The Jogger also features Dacia’s clever roof rails, which swivel around to create a roof rack.

Dacia Jogger

The front cabin will be familiar to Sandero drivers, which means that it’s pretty basic and there’s no shortage of scratchy plastic, but it does the job. My only gripe is that the driving position is a little high for my liking.

The Jogger’s 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine is more refined than I expected and surprisingly punchy at lower speeds. The Eco button dulls the engine response, so best left for longer cruises. The six-speed manual gearbox works just fine – it’s just a shame Dacia sticks with its uncomfortable gear knob.

On paper, the 108bhp turbo petrol engine (TCe 110) can sprint to 62mph in 11.2 seconds and return up to 48.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 131g/km. From my experience of driving on mixed roads, 45mpg is achievable, and it can nudge 50mpg on a motorway run.

Dacia Jogger

It’s incredibly easily to drive with light steering and good visibility, but things get a little more challenging when its pushed beyond its comfort zone. More spirited drivers will soon realise that it loses its composure on more challenging roads.

Keep it sensible and the lightweight Jogger is nimble and good fun to drive.

So far so good – now the fly in the ointment. The Jogger scored just one out of five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests, which are more rigorous than ever.

It was marked down for its lack of safety kit and driver assistance technology equipment and the testers were unimpressed that it doesn’t have airbags or seatbelt reminders for the third row of seats.

While this safety score is nothing to boast about, it’s worth pointing out that the Jogger isn’t a dangerous car, it’s just not as super safe as many other new vehicles.

Dacia Jogger

For the record, all Jogger models feature six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), anti-lock brakes (ABS), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with ASR (Traction control) and Hill Start Assist (HSA), while Comfort trim and above get a blind spot warning system. In other words, it’s still a lot safer than millions of older cars on the roads today.

It’s a shame to end on a negative, because the Jogger is a fantastic all-round package, especially when every penny counts.

Verdict: As the cost of living crisis deepens, the all-new Dacia Jogger is well worth considering because it offers remarkable value for money and is a superbly honest and practical car. A genuine seven-seater, it’s economical, easy to drive and incredibly versatile. Take one for a test drive and prepare to be bowled over.

Dacia UK

Dacia Jogger