Last updated on January 3rd, 2022 at 05:52 pm
- Comfortable Mercedes interior
- Strong safety tech across all models
- Smooth ride quality
- Mediocre driving experience
- Small boot with rear seats up
- Shorter range than other SUVs in its class
Range (WLTP): 250-264 miles Top Speed: 99 mph 0 to 62: 6-8.9 sec Cost/Mile (@14p/kWh): 3.5p
Now that EVs are becoming increasingly mainstream, the need for models that are pretty much like their ICE alternatives, only electric, has increased. Radical changes in what a car is like might be too much for some buyers, after all. Some people just want the automotive brand they like to be available in EV form. This is clearly the strategy Mercedes has taken with the EQA.
Price and Options
There are three basic models of EQA, corresponding to engine power and wheels driven. All three have the same 66.5kWh battery, which is now a little small at this level. The 250, which is what we were given to review, has 190hp and is front wheel drive. The 300 4MATIC is dual motor with 228hp, and then there's the 350 4MATIC with 292hp, which is also dual motor.
Trim options include Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, and AMG Line Premium Plus. Even the Sport includes advanced safety features, a reversing camera, heated front seats, and a powered boot release, so the equipment level is decent at all levels. The basic wheels are 18in, and on the AMG Line you get better-looking 18in alloys plus enhanced exterior decoration and a sports steering wheel, although most of the upgrades are cosmetic.
The AMG Line Premium adds even nicer 19in wheels and a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, better sound, and wireless phone charging. We were lent the AMG Line Premium Plus, which has even nicer 20in wheels, adaptive dampers, 360-degree parking camera, an even better stereo, and a head-up display.
The colour options are relatively sober, and mostly reasonably priced. Black or white non-metallic paints are standard, with metallic versions £595 extra, as are silver, grey, rose gold and the denim blue of our review car. A more eye-catching red is £795 and then there’s matt grey for £1,795, which you should only choose if you can always park your car away from trees where birds tend to perch, because this kind of paint stains easily.
German cars do tend to come with extensive and confusing options lists, but thankfully the EQA bundles almost all of these into the trim choices. Going from bottom trim to top only adds £6,000, which is less than, for example, VW or Skoda once you add vital options. This makes car specification a bit easier. The one exception to this rule is the £1,495 Driving Assistance package, which you may consider essential because it includes Mercedes’s DISTRONIC. This is the company’s branding for adaptive cruise control. It’s a shame you don’t get this as standard, as you do for example on the MG ZS EV Long Range.
Considering the pricing of the EQC, which starts at over £65,000, the EQA is merely as expensive as you’d expect from Mercedes. The basic 250 Sport starts at £44,495, with the AMG Line £1,500 more, the Premium £3,000 on top of that, and the Premium Plus an additional £3,000. However, you can only get the Sport with the 250 motor, so the 300 starts at AMG Line level, costing £48,495, and the 350 at £49,995. A 350 AMG Line Premium Plus would therefore be just a fiver under £56k, and our 250 AMG Line Premium plus with the Driving Assistance package and blue paint option is £54,085.
On the one hand, this is a lot for a small SUV. The GLA this car is based on starts at around £10,000 less, but that will be for a lesser engine specification and if you compare like-for-like the difference is more like £7,000. This is still a considerable premium, but cheaper than the (much more powerful) Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin AWD. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is better value but doesn’t have the class or interior quality of the EQA.
The EQA is not that exciting to look at. After the slew of electric SUVs we have seen over the last year, it’s a relatively generic crossover/SUV design. If you’re familiar with Mercedes, you might be remarking how much the EQA looks like the Mercedes GLA. That is because the EQA shares its platform with the GLA. The only obvious difference is the lack of a grille at the front, replaced by a solid panel.
Like the GLA, this is a crossover more than a straight SUV, but it’s on the large size for this category. Although the profile is quite generic, it’s not a bad-looking vehicle. The rounded corners of current Mercedes cars remain and the overall sense of class you expect from this brand is maintained.
Interiors are part of the reason you buy a Mercedes, and we're pleased to report this remains a strength with the EQA. All trim levels have something called ARTICO man-made leather-like seat material, which comes in black by default, but you can have it in white at no extra cost. The AMG Line and AMG Line Premium combine the ARTICO man-made leather with DINAMICA microfibre and red topstitching. This provides a softer surface, and the design is slightly different.
All trim levels have heated front seats, although heated rear seats don’t appear to be even an option at any level. Electronic seat adjustment is standard, but the memory function requires the Premium or Premium Plus. The front seats are comfortable enough, although one of our team found the lumbar support couldn’t be adjusted to suit his wide back. The front also feels also feels more enclosed than some electric SUVs we’ve tested, such as the Audi Q4 e-tron or Volkswagen ID.4. But the use of materials is as you would expect from Mercedes – high quality and with a strong sense of luxury.
There's a cubby underneath the front armrest with a couple of USB C ports inside. Further forward a couple of cupholders plus another small storage space sit beneath a sliding door. In front of this is a wireless charging mat and a further USB C port, with a standard car power outlet under a flap. The wireless phone charger is available on the Premium and Premium Plus only. The glove compartment is medium-sized. There’s a panoramic sunroof available with the AMG Line Premium and Premium Plus. This has a blind and glass, both of which retract.
Not all smaller crossover-style SUVs do so well with rear space, but the EQA is adequately spacious at the rear. However, the floor is higher than on the GLA, so although there is adequate knee room unless you are six foot or over, your knees will be quite high up. The middle seat isn’t particularly wide, but if you only have two rear passengers you can pull the back down to reveal an armrest with a couple of integrated cupholders.
The air conditioning isn't tri-zone, just dual zone at the front, but rear passengers do get their own vents to adjust. There is only one USB C port in the rear for passengers to charge their devices, however, which seems a bit stingy. The two outer rear seats have ISOfix points for child car chairs, but the front passenger seat doesn’t.
Storage and Load Carrying
The rear space is reasonable, but the rear boot space is more limited. On the plus side, the boot release is electric, with a kick release that works well. However, the basic boot capacity of 340 litres is more akin to a hatchback than an SUV. The Ford Mustang Mach-E beats it, the Volkswagen Group SUVs are way ahead here, and the Tesla Model Y is in a different league. The GLA on which the EQA is based also offers about 100 litres more, presumably because some of the EQA’s batteries are at the rear. However, there is a small space underneath the boot floor for accessories like the first aid kit, but not enough for charging cables, unfortunately.
The rear seats can be dropped forward in a versatile 40/20/40 split, meaning you could have a long item through the middle 20% and still have two passengers at the rear. Dropping all three rear seats forward expands the boot to 1,320 litres, which is a little behind a mid-sized estate car but ahead of a hatchback. The boot floor is also flat all the way to the boot lip, so you could even transport stuff sticking out the back if you need to.
All versions of the EQA can tow, too, and the towbar upgrade is a reasonable £750. The 250 can manage 750kg braked or unbraked, but the four-wheel-drive 300 and 350 4MATIC models raise the braked capacity considerably to 1,800kg. The towbar also includes stability controls that kick in above 40mph to keep the car in the right direction if undue oscillation is detected.
The EQA doesn’t diverge significantly from the interior controls and entertainment design of recent non-EV Mercedes, which has its good and bad sides. On the plus side, Mercedes ICE owners will find the transition seamless. The on-off button is the same as before. The steering wheel controls will be familiar too.
Our test vehicle had the sport steering wheel with Alcantara covering. Some Mercedes cars have a separate stalk for cruise control, but the EQA has the buttons for this on the right on the steering wheel itself. On the left are the media controls, which are reasonably easy to operate. The left-hand stalk operates windscreen wipers, indicators, and main beams. There are paddles for varying the level of regenerative braking. Exactly like recent automatic Mercedes, the right-hand stalk engages drive, reverse and neutral, with a button on the end for park. This system will also be familiar to Tesla drivers, because Tesla originally used a Mercedes part for this for the S and has carried the system forward.
There's a conventional-looking dashboard display, but it's all digital. You get speed on the left and power/recharge on the right, with safety-related information in the middle. The range display is very small, however, although you also get an analog indication of how much battery is left. If you go for the AMG Line Premium Plus trim, this includes a very capable HUD projected right onto the windscreen. This displays speed, speed limit, and safety as well as navigation information.
There's a switch for changing power mode. Options include Sport, Normal and speed-limiting Eco, as well as an Individual option. With the adaptive dampers, these modes also adjust the suspension accordingly. The air conditioning has a full set of discrete buttons, which are the same as on Mercedes cars of the last 5 or 6 years, and reasonably easy to operate safely while driving.
The 10in media screen is common to all cars – Mercedes used to make screen size a differentiator across trim levels, but not with the EQA. The strange control surface in the central console remains, but the media display is also a touchscreen, so you don't need to use that. As always with Mercedes, there are multiple ways to operate the menu, which is good for choice but a bit confusing, and something we think Mercedes could consider stopping to reduce complication. The LCD display is haptic, as well, so reacts before your finger touches the screen so you know which icon you’re likely to press.
The media display is reasonably responsive, with a home screen that provides phone, navigation, and DAB radio. All cars have a satnav with three years of live traffic included. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, but only via a wired connection, if you want to use your phone to navigate instead. We found the implementation of CarPlay a little finicky with some functions, such as Audible audio books. The menu to alter car functions is quite easy to understand, however, with quick access to key features via large rectangular icons.
Performance and Driving
Mercedes may have a Formula 1 team and AMG branding on many of its cars, but the majority are more about classy comfort than sporty driving. The fact that even the basic EQA trim is called Sport is a bit of a misnomer, because at least in 250 form the EQA’s driving experience is decidedly average. The 250 is not tremendously fast, taking 8.9 seconds to hit 62mph, although it still has plenty of torque off the lights in Sport mode. The 300 4MATIC takes a more respectable 7.7 seconds to hit 62, and the 350 a reasonably quick 6 seconds, putting it on par with the dual-motor Volkswagen Group SUVs.
Handling is very much on the comfort side and doesn’t provide much dynamic feedback. We're surprised that this car doesn't have Mercedes' excellent AIRMATIC suspension, which the company has been putting on its plug-in hybrids to compensate for the extra weight. But even with regular coil springs, this car eats up bumps tremendously well. The Premium Plus also has adjustable dampers, so the suspension allegedly changes with drive mode, although it's not very noticeable, and definitely not as variable as it is with AIRMATIC.
The EQA is quite tall, and the centre of gravity feels higher than some electric SUVs. It’s 1cm taller than the GLA upon which it is based. You feel the body roll if you hit a corner a little too fast. On a motorway, however, this car is very composed and comfortable. It feels at home wafting at 70mph. The DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control is extremely easy to adjust and works well too.
Range and Charging
The EQA driving experience is mediocre and unfortunately so is the range. Now that all the top Volkswagen Group SUVs are offering 300 miles and beyond, the EQA's 66.5kWh battery is below par and only delivers up to 264 miles, with some trim combinations dropping to 250 miles. That’s around the same as the basic VW ID.3 Pro Performance, and slightly ahead of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin AWD. But EQAs above Sport trim cost as much as the Long Range version of the Tesla Model 3, which has around 100 miles more WLTP range.
That said, we drove this car from North London to Nottingham and back and the range for this journey was perfectly adequate with a single stop to charge. It’s clearly enough for extended travel. The usability of the range does benefit from an 11kW AC capability, if you have three-phase power. On a 7kW wallbox it takes 5 hours 45 minutes to charge from 10 to 100%. On a 100kW public rapid DC charger, you can go from 10 to 80% in half an hour. You get a year of IONITY use with this car, too. We tried IONITY and it was peaking at 114kW, which is decent if not Tesla Model 3 level.
Economy isn't too bad. You're paying just over 3.5p a mile on an 14p per kWh supply. Obviously, most supplies are more like 18p these days, and likely to go higher soon. Insurance groups range quite a bit depending on EQA model, from 37 for the basic 250 Sport to 45 for the 350 4MATIC AMG Line Premium. These are quite high, although not surprising for a premium luxury car from a brand like Mercedes. The warranty is for three years and unlimited miles, with an incredible 30-year anti-perforation guarantee. The battery has the typical eight-year warranty for 100,000 miles, but there is no information about minimum capacity.
The EQA is reassuringly packed with safety tech as standard. Considering how some German companies make you pay for extras, it’s good to see that almost all of this is included with every car. The baseline includes all the modern capabilities, such as active brake and lane keep assistance. There is blind spot detection, too, and speed limit assistance.
However, the one black mark here is that you need the £1,495 Driving Assistance package to get DISTRONIC, the Mercedes adaptive cruise system. We still think it's a shame to buy a top trim level such as AMG Line Premium Plus and still not have adaptive cruise as standard. Even the MG ZS EV Long Range has this for under £30,000. We also found that it occasionally resets to what it wrongly thinks is a new speed limit, although it's very easy to adjust back to the speed you want. The Driving Assistance package is a pricey option, but you will want this if you regularly drive long distance on motorways.
|Price:||250 – £44,495; 300 4MATIC – £48,495; 350 4MATIC – £49,995|
|Range (WLTP):||250 – 263 miles; 300 4MATIC – 264 miles; 350 4MATIC – 264 miles|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||5 hours 45 minutes|
|Charge time (50kW, 80%):||60 minutes|
|Charge time (250kW, 80%):||30 minutes|
|On Board Charger:||11kW|
|Cost per mile*:||3.5p|
|0-62mph:||250 – 8.9 seconds; 300 4MATIC – 7.7 seconds; 350 4MATIC – 6 seconds|
|Power:||250 – 190hp; 300 4MATIC – 228hp; 350 4MATIC – 292hp|
|Wheels driven:||250 – Front-wheel-drive; 300/350 4MATIC – All-wheel-drive|
|Cargo:||340 litres; 1,320 litres with rear seats down; towing 750kg (250), 1,800kg (300/350 4MATIC)|
*based on electricity costs of 14p per kWh