Time was that drivers who needed to carry lots of others would buy a people carrier. Makes sense, right? Then carmakers started fitting seven seats to their SUVs and all except the chauffeur and taxi industries moved away from multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) in droves.
Recent Jato analysis shows MPVs now account for less than 4% of car sales across Europe. But, seven-seater SUVs are not really MPVs – it’s a struggle to fit adults (and their luggage) in them.
Van-derived people carriers are more practical, but many user-choosers don’t want to drive around in what is, essentially, a van.
Once you introduce electrification into the mix, the reality is that a van-derived vehicle like the new Mercedes-Benz EQV is the only solution available that can carry more than five people comfortably and with zero-emissions.
It’s based, largely, on the eVito van; but comes with the more luxurious interior from a V-Class and a bigger 100kWh battery, providing a WLTP range of 213 miles.
Mercedes believes the EQV will appeal to private buyers and user-choosers as much as it will the commercial taxi and chauffeur businesses.
With pricing from £70,000, the EQV isn’t cheap. It’s designed to provide a luxurious car-like experience. So, there’s plenty of leather, sound-proofing and high-tech equipment on board.
The interior can be configured so there’s two seats in the middle and three at the back, or vice versa. Passengers can face each other, with a folding table between them, or all face forwards.
Up front, there’s plenty of space. In fact, the EQV interior is so vast, it is difficult to reach the various storage compartments from the driver’s seat.
A 10-inch MBUX infotainment screen provides the brand’s latest in-car services, including live traffic information, digital and internet radio and smartphone integration.
The 204PS electric motor provides modest performance, with 0-62mph taking 12 seconds. The EQV doesn’t set off with electrifying pace though – its throttle has been calibrated to ensure passengers are comfortable, which means setting off on busy roundabouts requires a thorough shove of the pedal to get it moving. There’s plenty of power on the move to keep up with traffic and, of course, a refined and almost silent experience.
As a vehicle primarily designed to carry people and stuff, it’s rather good. The electric sliding rear doors provide easy access, even in tight spaces and everyone on board should be comfortable.
It’s not really a ‘car’, however. The footprint alone makes its tricky to navigate small streets and country lanes, while parking requires a higher degree of skill. While the EQV is perfectly easy to get along with there’s no escaping the fact it drives like a van.
During our testing, the EQV was achieving around 2.0mi/kWh, which would suggest a range of 180-200 miles could be comfortably achieved.
When it comes to charging, the EQV’s big battery will take 10 hours to replenish using a domestic socket but it can achieve an 80% charge in 45 minutes using a rapid charger.
For those that can’t quite manage the EQV’s hefty price tag, the less refined eVito tourer offers the same powertrain and has seating for eight for around £20,000 less.