Even though Malaysia is proportionally one of the biggest markets for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the future of purely electric motoring still seems like some ways away. But it really isn’t – the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Stuttgart’s first fully-fledged production electric vehicle, will be on our shores soon, and in the meantime the zero-emissions SUV is making its ASEAN debut next to the S 560 e launched today. Available to order starting in 2020, the EQC 400 4Matic will retail from an estimated RM600,000.

At the heart of it all are a pair of electric motors, one on each axle and paired with a fixed-ratio transmission. Together, they produce a total output of 300 kW (402 hp) and a whopping 765 Nm of torque, and they also provide all-wheel drive. Although the car is predominantly front-wheel drive for greater efficiency, the rear motor kicks in when extra performance is required.

Foot flat to the floor, the EQC will get from zero to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h. Juicing these motors is a 80 kWh (405 volts, 230 Ah) lithium-ion battery that is modular in design, with two modules with 48 cells each and four with 72 cells each, making for a total of 384 cells. All-in-all, the battery weighs 652 kg, making up a substantial share of the 2,495 kg kerb weight.

Mercedes claims a combined range of 417 km on the new, more stringent WLTP cycle, plus an energy consumption figure of 22.3 to 25 kWh per 100 km. The car comes with a 7.4 kW water-cooled onboard charger that enables the car to be charged in 11 hours from a wallbox or a regular AC public charging station, while the Combined Charging System (CCS) socket allows a DC fast charging station to provide a maximum output of 110 kW, charging the battery from 10% to 80% in just 40 minutes.

To make the most of the performance and range on offer, the EQC comes with five self-explanatory drive modes, these being Comfort, Eco, Max Range, Sport and Individual. There’s also an Eco Assist feature that coaches you on your accelerator usage to further maximise efficiency, using navigation, camera and radar data to tailor its guidance based on route profile, speed limit and distance from the vehicles in front.

While the EQC looks similar in size to the GLC (and indeed, it uses the same basic underpinnings), it’s quite a bit larger in size. It measures 4,761 mm long, 2,096 mm wide and 1,624 mm tall, making it 105 mm longer, 206 mm wider and 15 mm lower, although its 2,873 mm wheelbase is only three millimetres longer.

The basic shape is also fairly similar to the GLC, with a streamlined profile and soft, organic forms. The details, however, are radically different and point to the future design direction of the EQ sub-brand. Even though this is an electric vehicle, the EQC still features a traditional Mercedes radiator grille with a dinner plate-sized Three-pointed Star, but here it’s surrounded by a gloss black panel that flows into the Multibeam LED headlights to form a U-shaped graphic.

Speaking of which, the headlights feature blue stripes and lettering to highlight the car’s zero-emission status, plus C-shaped daytime running light graphics joined together by a light strip across the top of the grille – a Mercedes first. At the rear you’ll find a low roof spoiler and a full-width LED tail light, and while the black body cladding hint at an off-roader look, the usual SUV roof rails have been deleted for better aerodynamics, helping to produce a drag coefficient figure of just 0.29.

Inside, the typical Mercedes layout has been revamped for EQ duty, with a greater use of linear horizontal lines. The wing-shaped dashboard has a cutout for the massive flatscreen display panel, featuring a ribbed surround that is inspired by an amplifier’s cooling fins – a motif that is repeated around the wraparound dashboard trim that reaches into the doors. The air vents are flat and feature rose gold key-shaped inserts.

As standard, the EQC comes with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, with twin 10.25-inch displays (the centre one is a touchscreen) and the Linguatronic voice control with the “Hey Mercedes” activation code. The system gets EQ-specific displays and voice commands, plus an optimised navigation system that takes into account the remaining range and available charging stations.

The car also comes with pre-entry climate control that will allow you to programme the cooling or heating of the car ahead of driving it, via either the MBUX system or the Mercedes me smartphone app. It will also do so automatically once you unlock the car, for a period of up to five minutes.

The left-hand drive preview car you see here is pretty light in options and therefore isn’t representative of local models. It gets the standard exterior and an Electric Line interior, plus 19-inch aerodynamically-optimised alloy wheels, a sunroof, a head-up display, a Burmester sound system, a 360-degree camera system and Artico faux leather and fabric upholstery.

Also fitted is the Driving Assistance package that adds Distronic adaptive cruise control with automatic restarts, Active Steering Assistant with Active Lane Change Assistant and Active Emergency Stop Assistant, Active Brake Assistant, evasive steering assistance, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, a pedestrian warning system and Pre-Safe Plus.