IMMENDINGEN, GERMANY — Driving away in the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX was a little more stressful than I expected. Not that it’s hard to ride or look out of the low-slung streamliner, but it’s also the only one out there. Mercedes wouldn’t tell us the program’s exact budget, just warn us that the single EQXX should be considered prohibitively expensive, but I’d estimate somewhere in the range of three Bugatti Pur Sports.
Like the Bugatti, the EQXX was built to an engineering brief – in this case to build an electric vehicle that can travel at least 1,000 km on a single charge. Like the Bugatti, it’s road legal: In April this year, less than two years after the project was given the go-ahead, the team drove the EV 625 miles (1,006 km) from Sindelfingen in Germany to Cassis, France, arriving with a 15 percent charge status in the battery.
Two months later they followed that up with a longer ride with fewer mountains descending from Stuttgart, Germany to the Silverstone circuit in the UK, where reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries then used the remaining charge to do some hot laps. the car eventually completed 747 miles (1,202 km) before coming to a stop in the pit lane.
But this is no Bugatti and there are no plans for a small production run, even at blindingly expensive prices. The Vision EQXX is a one-off concept car come to life, but more fully realized than any other concept I’ve come across to date. A pure engineering exercise or world record breaker wouldn’t bother with a functional infotainment system that uses a single 44-inch 8k screen, nor a fully trimmed interior, even if it’s a fabric that uses cactus fiber instead of leather, bamboo fiber carpets and one of biotech derivative side, among other innovations.
And despite the invaluable nature of this low-resistance EV, Mercedes let Ars drive it.
As you might guess from the way it looks, the shape of the Vision EQXX is more than a little aero-optimized. After all, about 62 percent of the work that the engine has to do is fighting the air resistance. It’s a smaller car than it appears in the photos – about a foot shorter than the production EQS at 195.9 inches in length. And so is the long overhanging nose and tail, so the wheelbase of the Vision EQXX is actually compact car short, at 110.2 inches (2800 mm).
A narrow 73.6 inch (1,870 mm) width and a low 53.1 inch (1,348 mm) roofline give the car a fairly small frontal area – 22.8 square feet (2.12 m2) – and the frontal area works with the drag coefficient in this case is just 0.17, making it one of the lowest drag cars ever.
From the nose to the C-pillar, it might remind you of the Porsche Taycan, itself a very slick customer. The door handles slide flush against the doors, or at least in front; the rear doors do not open, one of the few tells that this is really a concept and not a production car.
The side mirrors are a size you would expect on a race car rather than something with a license plate, but they work well enough. That’s a good thing, because there’s no rear window. Instead, that space, as well as the roof, is turned over to a 300W solar panel powered by the car’s 12V battery, which is lithium-ion like the traction battery. (Since the priceless one-off will never be parked outside for long, Mercedes didn’t bother adding the extra gubbins that would allow the panel to trickle-charge the traction battery.)
From the rear wheels back, it’s like little else, other than perhaps the Lightyear Solo. When parked, the lower part of the tail retracts into the body and extends when the car’s internal brain decides it is more efficient to do so.