Thinking that monsoon is almost behind us, we headed for a quick excursion to Kaas Plateau – Maharashtra’s Valley of flowers, near Satara – in the Mercedes-Benz EQC, oblivious of the surprises waiting for us.
Monsoon in Maharashtra completely changes the landscape of the region. The lush green surroundings and a drop in the atmospheric temperature make for a perfect time to hit the road for short weekend drives. Now, EVs are, without any doubt, the future of personal mobility as we know it, and we can already see glimpses of this green future. But what about here and now? Can we really live with an EV today? To answer the question, we put the Mercedes-Benz EQC through a few tests, and the results were interesting.
Now, if you were to have an EV as your only car, it must be road-trip worthy. So, in this test, we took the EQC on a quick trip from the Mercedes plant in Chakan to the Kaas Plateau, near Satara, and back, covering a distance of nearly 350km. And to make the journey a bit more challenging, we decided to complete it in a single charge.
With the EQC and us fully charged, and the large MBUX screen navigating the way ahead, we set out Southwards from Chakan to Satara. For the most part, NH48 is an arrow-straight highway, and it’d have taken tremendous self-control on our part to not go all guns blazing had the roads not been patchy and busy. To make matters worse, a heavy downpour did all it could to make the visibility rather poor. But, thankfully, the EQC’s LED headlights worked well even in such horrid weather conditions.
As we left the highway, the road became narrow and twisty. Despite staying in the Comfort mode in the interest of efficiency, the EQC felt surefooted and predictable during the hill climb. What also helped here, of course, was the availability of all the torque right from the get-go – in fact, it made driving the car not just exciting but also very addictive. Smoothly and quickly, we made our way up the hill towards Panchgani, where we stayed the night.
Even after the long and tiring journey of Day 1 – from Mumbai to Chakan to pick up the EQC and from there to Panchgani – I woke up fresh and excited to see the spectacular palette of colours that Kaas had to offer.
Spread over an area of 10 square kilometres, Kaas is a reserved forest and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, which is home to over 850 species of flowering plants, including orchids, karvy, and, even, some carnivorous plants. Dubbed Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers, the Kaas Plateau transforms into a spectacular carpet of colourful flowers around this time of the year. But as luck would have it, Kaas wasn’t quite the colourful blanket as we remembered it to be in the past. After a quick chat with locals and some officials, we discovered that the blooming patterns of flowered were impacted this year because of a delay in the monsoon season – blame it on global warming, if you wish.
Unsatisfied with the anti-climactic turn of events, we decided to explore the region for some more exciting vistas. A quick search online revealed a few interesting places within accessible distances. Aside from the Kaas Plateau, Satara is also known for its waterfalls and windmill farms. A short drive later we landed at a massive windmill farm – a fitting and picturesque backdrop for the EQC.
While we had to drive in a slightly more energy-efficient manner, the EQC at no point in time made us range anxious, even with impromptu direction changes.
We came to Kaas to experience its vast flora in all its glory. With an unrelenting monsoon refusing to bid goodbye even in October, the Kaas Plateau wasn’t quite blooming to its full potential and wasn’t as impressive as we’ve always known it to be.
The EQC, however, was quite the opposite. It has a calm demeanour that you really appreciate on a road trip like this. And when you want performance, it’s always there for you, just a tap of the pedal away – something that really made it fun and easy to drive on the twisty sections of the Western Ghats. But can you really live with an EV? Can you make short day trips without range anxiety constantly playing on your mind? Definitely!
In our next test, we will spend a week with the EQC to find out how it performs as a daily driver in the city. So, stay tuned for that!