IMENDINGEN, GERMANY — Driving the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX was a little more stressful than I expected. Not that it’s hard to drive or see from the low-slung streamliner, but it’s also the only one in existence. Mercedes wouldn’t tell us the exact budget of the program, just warning us that the single EQXX should be considered priceless, but I’d guess somewhere in the range of three Bugatti Pur Sports.
Like the Bugatti, the EQXX was created to an engineering task – in this case, to build an electric vehicle capable of traveling at least 621 miles (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 got the go-ahead, the team drove the EV 625 miles (1,006 km) from Sindelfingen in Germany to Cassis in France, arriving with 15 percent battery charge level.
Two months later they followed this up with a longer drive involving less mountain descent, driving from Stuttgart, Germany to Silverstone Raceway in the UK, where reigning Formula E champion Nick de Vries then used the remaining charge, to to drive several hot laps, with the car eventually covering 747 miles (1,202 km) before pitting.
But this is no Bugatti, and there are no plans for low-volume series production, even at outrageously expensive prices. The Vision EQXX is a unique concept car, brought to life but more fully realized than any other concept I’ve come across so far. Pure engineering exercise or breaking a world record wouldn’t bother with a functional infotainment system that uses a single 44-inch 8k display, nor a completely stripped-down interior, even if it’s one that uses cactus fiber fabric instead of leather, bamboo fiber carpeting, and biotech-derived silk. among other innovations.
And despite the priceless nature of this low-drag EV, Mercedes let Ars drive it.
As you might guess from the way it looks, the Vision EQXX’s shape is more than a little aero optimized. After all, about 62 percent of the work the engine has to do is fighting air resistance. It’s a smaller car than it looks from the pictures—about a foot shorter than the stock EQS at 195.9 inches long. And that includes the long overhanging nose and tail, so the Vision EQXX’s wheelbase is actually compact-car short, 110.2 inches (2,800 mm).
A narrow width of 73.6 inches (1870 mm) and a low roofline of 53.1 inches (1348 mm) give the car a fairly small frontal area — 22.8 sq ft (2.12 m2) — and the frontal area works with the drag coefficient in this case being just 0.17, making it one of the lowest drag cars ever made.
From the nose to the C-pillar, it might remind you of the Porsche Taycan, a very slick client in its own right. The door handles retract flush with the doors, or at least in front; the rear doors don’t open, one of the few sayings that this is indeed a concept and not a production car.
The side view mirrors are the size you’d expect to find on a race car rather than something with a license plate, but they work well enough. Which is good because there is no rear glass. Instead, the space, as well as the roof, is given over to a 300 W solar array that powers the car’s 12 V battery, which, like the traction battery, is lithium-ion. (Since the priceless one-off was never going to be left parked outside for very long, Mercedes didn’t bother to add extra leads that would allow the panel to charge the traction battery.)
From the rear wheels back, it’s something other than maybe a Lightyear Solo. When parked, the bottom of the tail retracts into the body, rising outwards when the car’s on-board brain decides it’s more efficient to do so.