You know the drill. You’re being picked up at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Seawell by Eddie, the ever-genial driver from the exclusive Barbadian Three Monkeys resort for your annual Fall break, as the Yanks call it.
“Lovely to see you again, Mr. Colley,” Eddie says, his distinctive lilting accent illustrating his Bajan Creole heritage as he guides you from the arrivals terminal out into the broiling sun to the Mercedes V-Class seven-seater the resort utilises for airport collections and the like.
“Lovely to see you too, Eddie. How’s Maureen and the kids?”
“Very good, sah,” he responds, adding that his wife – who is descended directly from those 50,000 or so Irish indentured servants voluntarily or involuntary sent to Barbados in the 1600s – is actually driving the Merc today.
“It’s a new Merc,” he says, “a ‘lectric one and she loves it.”
A horn tooted and I snapped from my reverie. Instead of Barbados, I was in Tipperary – outside the Horse and Jockey – imagining a ritzy resort hotel called the Three Monkeys, staffed by lovely Barbadian people like Eddie and Maureen.
Unfortunately it was all a figment of my overheated imagination. But it was – in the context of this week’s tester – just the thing this particular car was going to spend its’ life doing – ferrying exalted clientele to and from upmarket resort hotels and spas, worldwide.
The car in question is the Mercedes EQV, which is essentially an electric version of the V-Class and fundamentally, therefore, a van-derived car – or a van with passenger seats and extra doors.
Now, we here at Examiner Motoring have driven – and been driven in – many of these things down the years – VW Caravelles, V- Classes, Citroen Space Tourers, Ford Tourneo Customs and so forth. Outside the hospitality and tourism sector, there is not a huge demand for them, but they are an important niche – especially for the businesses that need such forms of transport.
Most of these are not great driving experiences, especially as they drive like vans. If that’s your bag, fine, but these are not things which will get any petrolhead excited. They are utilitarian of purpose and their driving characteristics reflect that fact.
To be driven in, they are also utilitarian, but comfortable for the spin from the Michelin-starred restaurant to the five-star hotel motor companies usually employ for flashy car launches in exotic places – the likes of which the motoring press have not seen for a while now.
And, depending on how many stars your hotel has, these vehicles can be ritzed-up no end in order to suit the needs of the clientele.
I’ve come across many such things in my time, but it is usually at the Mercedes end of the price scale you will find at top establishments like the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, in Antibes, which once hosted a Mercedes SL Coupe launch back in the day and which had its own fleet of executive minibuses to ferry its clientele to and from Nice airport – if of course they were not helicoptering in.
Given the current electric zeitgeist, it would be no surprise therefore if I visited said establishment again tomorrow, they would have replaced that fleet with a bunch of Mercedes EQVs.
Indeed, I suspect that lot of people are going to be sitting up and taking interest in the EQV, but I doubt if very many of them will ever become domesticated.
So why will this machine fit the bill for hotels, spas, taxi companies, chauffeur services and a variety of other service providers? Well, simply because it costs little to run, bears a tiny road tax bill, is quite luxurious and comes – in the Avantgarde trim we tested – with an impressive spec.
It also comes with a price tag – again in the case of the tester – which is not too far south of 100k, which will make purchasers to maximise the usefulness of their EQV. That means it will do a lot of mileage.
But, as with so many electrics, a lot of mileage is not necessarily a given and range anxiety may well be a feature for certain of those who invest.
Mercedes claims a range of 213 miles (that’s 342 klicks) for the car. So, if you were, say, Francis Brennan of the increasingly famous Kenmare hotelier brothers, and had a load of Americans coming to and from Shannon on a regular basis and were keen on electric transport, would this thing do the trick?
The answer is ‘yes’ – but only just. Kenmare to Shannon is 161km each way – total 332km – which should leave you with just ten klicks left in the tank. And that’s providing you’re very careful.
I did – an entirely unscientific – experiment trip from Cork to Horse And Jockey in Tipperary, where I came out of the reverie referred to earlier.
That’s a distance of 106km, or 212 in total. I did not pander to the electricity in any way and drove as I normally would. Having started the trip with very slightly less than full capacity, I ended it back in Cork with just under 80km left.
Like so many electrics which fail to live up to their manufacturers’ claims for them, the EQV did not pass muster. But, it must be said, it came fairly – and impressively – close. I should have had nearly 130km in hand after that trip, but I was fifty shy.
Now, had I been lighter of foot and a little bit more sympathetic, I have no doubt I could have closed that gap significantly. Unfortunately, having to think constantly about what you’re doing only underlines so many people’s fears about electrics. You cannot simply get in and expect to go where you like.
You have to plan and drive appropriately and for many people who love driving, that is simply anathema.
Anyway, the performance figures of the EQV show it to have a top speed of 140 km/h and a 12.1 second 0-100 km/h, both of which are somewhat glacial; but then again, your average Yankee billionaire doesn’t necessarily want Max Verstappen driving them to Kenmare from Shannon.
On the road, the damping is pretty rudimentary and while it might be good on German roads, that does not necessarily apply here and when it is empty it will do a striking bouncy castle impression. With everyone aboard in the 2-2-3 seating layout (or 2-2-2 if you need to get some luggage in) it is a lot better.
As I’ve said it is also well specced in Avantgarde trim – right down to the pinstripe effect wood trim – which will keep your billionaire clients happy as they will be able to use the on-board connectivity and electronics to keep in touch with their investments.
This is a fine thing which sews a thick thread of practicality together with the heavy weave of politically correct green credentials that are so much in demand across a wide spectrum of customers these days.
So, if you ever get to the Three Monkeys resort in Barbados, tell Eddie and Maureen you’ve been told all about Mercedes’ new ‘lectric bus and you think it’s pretty cool too.