Waves of nostalgia flow every time I test drive a seven seater. He has owned a Saab 95, the estate version of the rally-proven 96, for many years.
Like that legendary engine, it only had two side doors but was blessed with two additional rear-facing seats that pulled out of the floor in the cargo area. They were reached by boarding when the large tailgate was raised.
Both of these seats had a lineage that stretched back to the old “mother-in-law” seats on early roadsters. They, in turn, evolved from the need to sometimes have room for an extra servant in those first “horseless chariots”.
What fun it was to pack seven of us in the Saab and set off on trips around the north of England in the 1970s. Children and my childish friends were having a good time and making faces at following cars.
It eventually came to Ireland with me and appeared to be the only one in the country. Of course, it was probably a safety horror story waiting to happen – no seat belts and little protection.
Nowadays there are no such problems. The back row in most seven-seaters can still be pulled up off the floor, but is now forward-facing and has its own seat belts. However, they still need a fair bit of agility, which was necessary to get into the Saab’s trunk.
I’ve lost a lot of those skills, so I’ll leave rear seat access to smaller, more limber individuals. In fact, with very few exceptions – and then you drive in van-like directions – they’re usually really just for kids.
Still, it was very nice to have the opportunity to test it Mercedes Benz EQB 300 4Matic, a fairly compact all-electric seven-seater almost unique among traditional premium brands.
Of course, much larger SUVs like the BMW X5 have seven-seater options, but the EQB, like the conventionally powered Mercedes GLB, goes for much smaller dimensions.
The Peugeot 5008 and Hyundai Santa Fe are both premium models offering seven seats in very attractive packages. The EQB stands tall and looks practical rather than being a creature of beauty. In this he is more reminiscent of the older, much-loved Subaru Forester.
It’s exceptionally well built both inside and out, and thanks to the 228hp powering all wheels, it’s very safe and confident to drive.
It’s not blazing fast – it can do 0-100km/h in eight seconds, but maintains its top speed at just 160km/h. That helps give a claimed range of 419km. However, that is very optimistic.
Fast chargers will take you from 10 packs to 80 packs, but it took more than 12 hours to go from 32 packs to 90 packs with my 11kW wallbox at home.
While the price for the EQB 250 (front-wheel drive option) starts at 64,030 euros and the 300 4Matic at 68,505 euros, you can access the extra package with just a few clicks at 80,000 euros.
But even with the basic versions, the safety equipment is absolutely first-class and, unlike my Saab from the 70s, your little darlings are protected all around.
The EQB felt like one of the safest, quietest, coolest and most relaxing cars to drive. With the rearmost seats folded down, it has a large carrying capacity.
Middle row passengers can slide the split 60-40 seats to get more or less legroom. However, the batteries under the floor make the seating position a bit uncomfortable.
There are no such problems at the front, with plenty of comfort and good infotainment. The EQB is a heavy machine that, despite its EV credentials, would likely make Eamon Ryan’s SUV hit list.
Still, I loved driving it and found it so easy to maneuver and live with. If the price scares you – and maybe it should – there’s a seven-seater petrol-engined Dacia Jogger that gets plenty of praise for €23,290.
It was a good start to the new year for Kia. Not only did its all-electric EV6 win the European Car of the Year title, but that car and the Sportage’s strong sales over the past three months have propelled the Korean manufacturer to a 7.75 percent market share in the first quarter of the year.
This is a record for the company. In a flat market that’s up just 4 percent from 2021, Kia is up 35 percent and sits in third place behind market leaders Toyota and Hyundai.
Kia Ireland’s results follow a strong performance by the brand across Europe, with Kia’s market share growing impressively to 5.3 per cent.
Ronan Flood, Managing Director of Kia Ireland said: “The first quarter of 2022 is certainly a milestone for the Kia brand in Ireland with a historic third in the market. Kia has faced the same supply issues as other manufacturers, but we are pleased to have sold nearly 4,000 units to dealers and customers.”
The good results came as Kia also announced more details of the completely facelifted Niro, arriving here in time for July as a plug-in hybrid and later in the summer as an electric vehicle. I think it will be a very exciting launch.
The existing model is already an outstanding car. Which? It’s the only new electric vehicle to earn a five-star reliability rating, according to Car Guide, and it’s also the most reliable car in the small SUV class across all fuel types. I know some very lucky owners.
Last week was my wife’s birthday and I’m running out of time if help for a new car can be avoided.
The new Niro or, later next year, its sibling the new Hyundai Kona are favorites to eventually have red ribbons around them. They are both larger and more intelligent.
https://www.independent.ie/life/motoring/a-seven-up-with-the-best-as-mercedes-delivers-one-of-the-safest-quietest-coolest-cars-41535860.html A seven with the best, because Mercedes delivers one of the safest, quietest and coolest cars