The battery-powered Mercedes EQC SUV has gone on sale in the UK, priced from £65,640.

The EQC isn’t Mercedes’ first electric car, but it is the first from the new EV-only EQ sub-brand. It goes toe-to-toe with the Jaguar i-Pace, Audi e-tron and, of course, the Tesla Model X.

Power comes from an 80kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering an electric motor on each axle. The system puts out 408hp and 564lb/ft of torque, enough for a 0-62mph sprint of 5.1secs and a top speed of 111mph. Near-enough exactly the same sort of power and performance as all its rivals.

Same goes for the range of 259 miles on the WLTP cycle, which is plenty far enough for most real-world use. From a 110kW fast charger, the batteries can be topped up from 10 to 80 percent in about 40 minutes. Plug it into a wall socket in your house and it will obviously take considerably longer. If it doesn’t fuse the entire street.

The EQC is a big-ish car – length-wise, it slots neatly between the existing Mercedes GLC and GLE SUVs. Without big mechanical bits in the way, it should be a lot more spacious than either of its ICE-powered siblings. But, unlike the Tesla, it doesn’t have a second boot under the bonnet. It can tow 1,800kg, but it’s a fair bet that doing so obliterates the range.

The range starts with the EQC400 Sport, which comes with Merc’s MBUX infotainment system in a 10.25in touschscreen display, 19in wheels, autonomous parking, LED headlights and a choice of 64 colours of ambient lighting.

There’s a few other models, as well, increasingly lavishly equipped.

That £65,640 entry price is about the same as a base model i-Pace, six grand less than an e-tron and a whopping 17 grand less than a Model X.

Tesla’s place at the top of the premium EV sales charts looks like it’s under serious threat. But will it be the EQC that knocks it from its perch?

By Graham King