Mercedes-Benz EQA Starting Price: €56,120
Price as tested: €57,546
High quality, good efficiency, effortless performance, comfortable.
Reduced rear legroom, bland looks, boot not very big, expensive to buy.
WHAT IS IT?
The EQA is the all-electric version of the Mercedes GLA, the company’s smallest crossover/SUV. The GLA competes with a wide variety of cars, such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, Volvo XC40 and Lexus UX, but very few of those – just the Volvo and Lexus – come as pure EVs. It’s not as big inside as the popular electric crossovers, such as the Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID.4.
Our test car is the entry-level EQA 250 Progressive with a few options bringing the price up to €57,546. Highlights of the standard equipment include aerodynamically optimised 18-inch alloy wheels, an electrically operated tailgate, LED lights all round and keyless entry and start.
Though there are loads of models in the line-up, they all use the same battery pack, with a 66.5kWh usable capacity. On rapid chargers, it can be recharged at up to 100kW, while the on-board charger allows AC charging up to 7.4kW on single-phase and 11kW on three-phase connections. Mercedes quotes a range of up to 423 kilometres for the EQA 250.
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
The GLA’s shape can clearly be seen under the EQ-related changes, but the EQA does look notably different. Upfront, the GLA’s SUV grille, expressive bumper design and faux-off-road underbody protection are replaced by much smoother surfacing in the EQA, including a blanked-off grille and a new design of LED headlights. It gets a little more definition if you go for the AMG Line version, but the new nose has the effect of making the EQA look less interesting than the GLA, somehow.
A restrained design for the exhaustless rear bumper looks quite bland, and the standard 18-inch alloy wheels are quite dull, too. Nonetheless, all versions of the EQA get new full-width LED lights for the back end, which, along with the movement of the numberplate to the bumper, and the use of a large three-pointed star in the middle of the hatch for opening, further differentiates the electric version. There’s badging on the boot and ahead of the door mirrorsMe if you miss the other details.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
The EQA’s cabin looks all but identical to that of the GLA, with a stylish ‘widescreen cockpit’ MBUX infotainment system upfront and air vents that feel as good to use as they are to look at. The electric model gets a unique instrumentation design and other sub-menus to keep an eye on energy consumption and charging. It all works as wonderfully as ever, and there’s a sense of really high quality, too. Not everyone loves the touchpad on the centre console, but it’s supplemented by intuitive-to-use little thumbpads on the spokes of the steering wheel that do the same job.
The driver’s seat is comfortable thanks to lots of adjustment in the position, and you sit upright with a great view out in all directions. The driving controls all appear standard enough for a Mercedes, with the usual drive selector stalk on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, and there are paddles behind the steering wheel to alter the level of brake energy regeneration.
The rear seating isn’t bad, though the floor has been raised in comparison to that of the GLA, which means that taller passengers will find their knees up higher than they might like. That compromise extends to the boot, which now holds 340 litres - as opposed to 495 litres in the front-drive GLA. There is a shallow area under the boot floor that might just about take a charging cable.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The EQA 250 features a front-mounted 140kW electric motor, which means up to 190PS sent to the front wheels. Of more importance is the significant 375Nm of torque also produced, pretty much from the first second you press the accelerator. It defines the driving experience to a certain extent, as Mercedes has calibrated the response to be notably nippy, even in the default Comfort setting. There’s even a vague sense of torque steer if you ask for maximum acceleration. Nonetheless, it does this quietly and traction is smoothly kept in check. The lacklustre 0-100km/h time is due to the considerable mass of the EQA, but it doesn’t convey how quick this car feels away from a standstill.
There are various driving modes other than Comfort, such as Sport for more response. The EQA additionally gets two “E” settings for maximum efficiency, allowing you to eke out the maximum range from the battery.
The paddles can be used to choose how strong the deceleration due to brake energy regeneration is, through four different settings, from almost no regeneration at one extreme (ideal for motorway driving) to a quite intense effect at the other, meaning you hardly need to use the brake pedal. The latter is referred to as one-pedal driving and, while it takes some getting used to, it works well in an urban environment, and it is the most efficient way to use the car in this setting.
Over a few days testing on a wide variety of roads, including an hour on the motorway, we matched the official average energy consumption figure of just under 18kWh/100km, suggesting a range of well over 300km so long as a good deal of that is not on that on the motorway.
The chassis itself is pretty sorted, if lacking in anything approaching engagement. The steering is completely devoid of useful feedback, though the tyres cling on gamely, and though it has been set up for stability and safety first and foremost, there is some mid-corner adjustment with the accelerator available. It’s competent rather than sporty, in essence, and it’s quite comfortable and quiet on the road.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
The cheapest model, as mentioned, is the EQA 250 Progressive, from €56,120. The EQA 250 is the only powertrain to come with a single front-mounted electric motor. The EQA 300 has another on the back axle for 4Matic four-wheel drive and up to 228hp – it starts at €60,915. Topping the line-up is the EQA 350, with a maximum power output of 292hp, from €63,700. All three versions can be had in either Progressive, Electric Art or AMG Line specification. The quoted maximum range doesn’t vary massively across the EQA options; it’s between 419- and 429 kilometres.
IS IT SAFE?
The carmakers don’t always send electric versions of their existing models to be tested by the Euro NCAP organisation, but it’s encouraging that Mercedes has done so with the EQA. It fared well, too, recording a five-star rating. Breaking that down, adult occupant protection was scored at 97 per cent, child occupant protection at 90 per cent and safety assist at 75 per cent. The EQA was designed with those outside the car in mind, too, as it scored a creditable 80 per cent in the ‘vulnerable road users’ category. The EQA does come with a comprehensive suite of active and passive safety equipment as standard, though it’s worth considering the Driving Assistance Package upgrade, too.
Not the cheapest or most exciting electric car on the road, the Mercedes EQA does promise, however, to deliver a satisfying ownership experience.
Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Progressive
Engine: one electric motor
0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds
Top Speed: 160 km/h
Transmission: 1-speed automatic
Co2: 0 g/km
Annual Motor Tax: €120
Luggage Capacity: 340-litres with the seats up, which can extend out to 1,320-litres with the rear seats folded.
Price as tested: €57,546
AA Ireland: October 2021