For most people, Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with comfort and high quality, and the slightly sturdy, sedate taxi image from the old days has been replaced with a more sporty and modern look. The EQC is the German star’s first all-electric SUV. It has some similarities with the fossil model GLC on which it is based, but much of the design is completely new. With four-wheel drive, 408 hp, 400 km range and towing hitch, EQC has the competitor Audi e-tron right in its crosshairs.
Most electric cars are quieter than similar fossil variants, as the electric driveline is almost silent. However, other challenges can arise, because without a noisy fossil engine that masks other sounds, even the slightest squeak can be evident to the ears. But fortunately this is something Mercedes is good at! Mercedes EQC is cushioned, padded and insulated according to all the rules of art, and the result is an excellent starting point for good sound experiences.
Premium system from Burmester
Like Audi, Mercedes had a collaboration with Bang & Olufsen on the sound side. In recent years, however, they have sworn allegiance to German Burmester, which now supplies sound systems to almost all Mercedes models.
The Burmester surround system with equipment code 810 is part of the premium packages PYN / PYO. The total cost starts at 26,700 kroner, but then you also get wireless charging of mobile phone, sunroof and the comfort package Energizing. According to the Mercedes importer, it is very common for customers to check one of these packages, and therefore also choose Burmester over standard.
13 speakers and 590 watts
The Burmester system consists of a total of 13 speaker elements. The system is characterized by the treble speakers with the Burmester logo, which is strategically located at the front of the A-pillars. Just below there is a midrange driver hidden in the door profile below. The driver and front passenger can also benefit from a center speaker in the dashboard. The rear side doors are equipped with similar speaker drivers as the front. In addition, there are a couple of full range speakers in the bars at the back.
We had to look for a long time for the bass speakers: In most cars it is common to place a subwoofer in the spare wheel well. In the case of EQC, on the other hand, the basses are located in the floor in front, where Mercedes has made its own bass chamber in the body itself. Furthermore, the Burmester system is equipped with a separate amplifier unit of 590 watts.
Exquisite driving comfort
The Mercedes EQC offers a very comfortable driving experience: With electric seats with memory function, built-in massage and ventilation (optional), and a soft chassis that swallows the bumps, even the “Princess on the Pea” should be happy behind the wheel of an EQC. Admittedly, this is hardly the car we had chosen for some sharp turns around Rudskogen or Vålerbanen. For that, the large 2.7 tonne equipment will be too large and soft. But as a road locomotive with the family on board, it feels just right.
We have previously been impressed by the quiet interior of the Audi e-tron, but the Mercedes EQC is actually even more quiet. Here there is not only vanishingly little noise from the outside: Mercedes has also succeeded in eliminating the transmission of vibrations through the body to a minimum. Even at highway speeds and with heavy 21 ”summer wheels, there is hardly any hint of tire noise or wind noise. Also no noticeable whine from the electric motors. Sometimes we had to take an extra look out the window, to check that we were actually moving!
Slightly messy infotainment system
EQC comes equipped with Mercedes’ new digital user interface MBUX. It takes some time to become familiar with all the controls, partly because there are so many “roads to Rome”. There are identical controls on the steering wheel, on the touch screen and touch pad in the center console that can all perform the same functions. This can be a little confusing and not very intuitive at first. EQC is also equipped with voice control, but it does not understand Nordic languages (English only), which for example made it difficult to speak in destinations for navigation.
Mercedes’ media player is well-suited for music playback, and Mercedes also offers a 3-month trial subscription to the Tidal streaming service to those who register a Mercedes Me user account. Then you have the opportunity to play Tidal music directly via the main unit. We still found it more convenient to play music from the mobile via Bluetooth.
The sound of Burmester
We take a ride in the well-equipped Mercedes EQC 400 AMG Edition, which also has the Premium package with Burmester on board. We play Norwegian Emilie Nicolas at a high level, and it does not take long before we nod in recognition and pedal in time with the music. The Burmester system draws a clear and precise stereo sound image between the A-pillars, and we can immediately hear and feel the location of instruments, on a par with a good hi-fi system. And it’s easy to hear every little detail: Even small tone changes and background noises come easily here, because the cabin is so quiet.
Emilie’s voice is warm, open, clear and super focused, without being strenuous or sharp. We also remember this great sound balance from the Audi e-tron with Bang & Olufsen, but Burmester in EQC actually seems even clearer and more distinct.
Even as great as the sound picture is, it does not feel as grandiose as in the Audi e-tron with Bang & Olufsen on board. The Mercedes EQC has at least as good precision on the tones, but we miss a bit of the grandeur and airiness of the Audi. This may be due to a few fewer speaker locations, and without dedicated “height speakers” you do not get the same surround feeling around the cabin. Although Burmester is equipped with surround simulation, we preferred the more accurate Pure mode for music listening.
The Burmester plant in EQC also has a very distinctive bass reproduction. It is very rhythmic and precise, without the slow “trailer” that often characterizes subwoofers in cars. Here it is easy to get hold of the rhythms, and the tones from guitar and double bass hit perfectly. However, we miss a little more rawness on some types of music. With bass-heavy hip-hop and electronics, the Burmester bass can almost seem a little too civilized. The summer hit Rockstar sounds a little too nice and tidy for us to feel like real gangsters. We tried to adjust the tone controls a bit, but never got quite the push we wanted. So even though front-mounted bass units seem like a smart solution, we think it could do wonders with an extra deep bass speaker in the spare wheel well – especially if you are as bass-saved as us.
To sum up, the Burmester system in the Mercedes EQC sounds absolutely excellent, and is a clear choice for those who are interested in good sound. Still, it’s a good step up to the sound experience we got in, for example, the Porsche Taycan, which in comparison has a more expensive Burmester system with 21 speakers and close to 1500 watts available, including a proper subwoofer. It will be something completely different!
Significantly better than standard
In connection with the test, we also borrowed an EQC with a standard sound system (853 Advanced sound system with 9 speakers and 300 watts). However, the Norwegian Mercedes importer had to dig deep to find such an equipment-poor variant in stock! It turns out that the vast majority of EQC customers check for the upgraded Premium package.
The standard system in the Mercedes EQC uses the same speaker positions as the Burmester, but with slightly fewer elements of simpler quality. The amplifier is also a simpler variant with lower output power. We were actually pleasantly surprised by the sound, which has the right warmth and fullness to engage. On the other hand, we miss a little air and resolution and details in the treble, which typically characterize the slightly more expensive systems.
Mercedes EQC can be delivered with a standard and more expensive system from Burmester. And although the ordinary system provides a clearly approved sound experience, there is no match for the premium option. Inside the noise-insulated EQC cocoon, it’s easy to hear how the Burmester system serves music with greater power, dynamism, depth and openness. Thus, this should be an easy choice for anyone who is interested in good sound.
Although we are very pleased with the sound in the EQC, we would like Mercedes to have “taken it all out” by offering an even more expensive variant. For models such as the E-Class and S-Class, it is possible to order an even larger Burmester system with up to 27 speakers and 1590 watts! Such a speaker arsenal would probably sound heavenly in the well-damped EQC compartment. Maybe we should wait for the luxury sedan EQS?