Mercedes-Benz EQA Review
As the electric revolution takes hold of mainstream cars, manufacturers are scrambling to fill their portfolios with zero-emission alternatives to petrol or diesel engines. This is the smallest and most affordable electric SUV in the Mercedes-Benz stable. The EQA is a rival to premium cars like the Audi Q4 E-tron and Volvo XC40 Recharge P8, as well as the EVs like the Volkswagen ID.4 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Many more rivals will follow, very quickly. While it’s a new model, with a new name, the EQA shares its underpinnings with the GLA SUV, and the two are very similar in size. The styling’s different though, with full-width lights and a grille-less front end. There are several power options, and a range of up to 264 miles on a single battery charge.
Select's rating score* - 3.4 / 5
While some manufacturers, such as Volvo, have put hybrid power into their existing cars, Mercedes has decided to launch all-new lines for its zero-emission range. And so we have the EQA, which is a small SUV, almost identical in size to the existing GLA. It’s a luxury car that doesn’t take up much more room on the road than a hatchback. Its range of up to 264 miles isn’t the largest on the market, but it should still cover even hefty commutes between charges.
Unlike some of its competition, the EQA isn’t trying to be a driver’s car, and focuses more on comfort. It does that through a great-quality interior and lots of the latest entertainment, information and safety equipment across its range, although the ride quality isn’t as smooth as you might hope. It is reasonably practical though, with an impressive amount of space for passengers, even if the boot is on the tight side. There are three power options and four trim levels, which gives you more choice than a lot of rivals offer.
One of the key buying considerations for EV leasing customers is battery range, and the EQA offers up to 264 miles. We’ll go into more detail on that in the next section, but there are now quite a few rivals that will deliver more. What very few rivals can offer, however, is an interior of the EQA’s quality. Sure, it’s not much different from the rest of the Mercedes range – electric or otherwise – but that’s not at all a criticism. As well as great quality it comes with a stylish design, and plenty of equipment across all four trim levels. It’s some top-notch equipment too, with a great infotainment system.
SUVs are often called into family duty, and there’s lots of space in the back of the EQA. You’ll easily get two adults in the back with more room than most rivals, so kids will have no issues. It’s a different story with the boot though; it’s tight for a car of this size and there’s no boot in the front, which is worth considering if you regularly need to haul stuff around.
The EQA comes with a choice of power options, but all have a 66.5kWh lithium-ion battery that promises a range between charges of up to 263 miles for the entry-level EQA 250, and up to 264 miles for the EQA 300 and EQA 350. That’s a very usable amount for most people and enough for some fairly sizable commutes. The Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge offers about the same, to within a few miles, but Audi’s Q4 E-Tron promises up to 316 miles with the larger of its two battery options. Several less premium rivals offer more than 300 miles too, including Tesla’s Model Y, which is due in the UK in 2022.
Unusually for electric cars, Mercedes offers not one, not two, but three power options for the EQA. While the different choices barely affect battery range, they do affect the monthly leasing cost, and the acceleration. The entry-level model, the EQA 250, has 190 horsepower, sent to the front wheels only, and that should be plenty for most. The nature of electric motors means maximum oomph is available straight away, without the need to wait for engine revs to rise, and that means a zippy feeling when you press the accelerator. A 0-32mph time of 8.9 seconds isn’t exactly fast, but it’s not slow either, and for those that want to cruise around it’ll do just fine.
If you do want extra pep, or you want four-wheel drive, you’ll need to look at the EQA 300. This comes with 228 horsepower and Mercedes’ four-wheel drive system, which is called 4Matic. The extra power shaves a second off the car’s 0-62mph acceleration time – 7.7 seconds, rather than 8.9 in the 250 – and offers extra traction off the line, which could be useful in bad weather. If that’s still not enough though, try the 292-horsepower EQA 350 4Matic, which will hit 62mph in 6.9 seconds. That’s far from slow, although it’s not as nippy as the 400-plus horsepower you’ll get in Volvo’s XC40 P8. The whole range, in fact, is relatively pedestrian in terms of performance. They’re all fine, but plenty of rivals are quicker.
Whichever model you go for, you’ll find that the EQA is decent to drive. It’s not trying to be particularly exciting, with light steering that’s useful for around-town manoeuvring. That’s not great for engagement at higher speeds though. Handling is again reasonable, but it’s a heavy car because of the weight of the battery, and it feels it if you try to push through the corners. Best to keep things at a cruise. The ride quality could be better, as you’ll feel the worst lumps and bumps from bad road surfaces as they thump into the cabin, but it’s not too bad.
The EQA comes as standard with a five-metre Mode 2 Cable to let you charge it from a domestic plug socket, although this is best kept for occasions when you have no alternative, as it’ll take around 30 hours to charge from empty. Better to use a home wallbox or a public charger, using the five-metre Mode 3 cable that’s also included. A home 400V wallbox, charging from 10% to 100% at 11kW will take 5hrs 45min, while a 100kW public rapid charger will take 30 minutes to charge from 10% to 80%.
Leasing costs for the EQA at the time of writing were broadly similar to some of its rivals, such as the electric Volvo XC40 range and the Audi Q4 E-Tron, but a bit more than the Volkswagen ID.4, Polestar 2, and less premium alternatives like the Kia e-Niro.
When it comes to running costs, electricity is far cheaper than petrol or diesel. Exactly how much it costs to recharge your EQA will depend on how you do it. The cheapest way would be at home, overnight on a tariff that gives you cheaper electricity at night. But even topping up at a public charger will be less than filling up with fuel. When it comes to efficiency, the EQA should deliver around 3.5 miles per kWh, which is the equivalent of miles-per-gallon. This is pretty good for a car of this size, and comparable to a Nissan Leaf.
As a zero-emission vehicle, the EQA attracts a 1% benefit-in-kind tax for company car drivers.
The interior of the EQA is every inch the premium environment you’d hope it would be; just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like a Mercedes. The design is very similar to other non-electric Mercedes models, rather than a reinvention for the electric range, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The look is very contemporary, the dashboard dominated by a wide tablet-like, twin-screen setup; one screen in the centre for infotainment duties and a second one behind the steering wheel in place of traditional analogue dials.
The infotainment system itself is one of the best on the market; it looks slick, it’s easy to use either by a trackpad between the front seats, or by using an excellent voice control system. There are touchpads on the steering wheel too. Everything is really well thought out and there are plenty of information and entertainment features to get your head around.
Build quality is also very good, with some excellent materials that feel more solid than those in the Volvo XC40.
The practicality of the EQA is a tale of two parts. The first part is the passenger space, which is broadly excellent. Front and rear seat passengers have plenty of head and leg room, and there are lots of very usable storage areas and cubby holes dotted around.
However, the boot is small for this size of car. Its overall volume of 340 litres is far less than the 452 offered in the XC40 or the 502 litre in Ford’s Mustang Mach-E. That’s a shame when the Mercedes GLA, upon which the EQA is based, has 4181 litres. There’s no front boot either, which is something several other electric cars can offer due to the lack of engine.
The EQA was tested by independent safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2019 and scored the maximum five stars, with particularly impressive scores for tests involving adult and child occupants. All models come with a great amount of safety features as standard, including modern systems like automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and a blind spot warning system.
Once you’ve chosen your preferred level of power, you’ve got a choice of four trims in the EQA. The entry-level model is the Sport, but it comes with plenty of standard equipment including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, parking seniors and a reversing camera. You’ll also get heated front seats and ambient interior lighting, which lets you choose from 64 different colours to give your cabin some extra snazz at night.
Upgrade to the AMG Line model and you’ll see a black alloy wheels and some extra-sporty body styling, inspired by Mercedes’ AMG performance cars. The door sills have illuminated ‘EQA’ lettering, and the seats are upgraded to more supportive sports seats.
Next up is AMG Line Premium, which adds 19-inch wheels, keyless entry and engine start, as well as a panoramic glass sunroof. The top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus has 20-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree camera system to help with parking and a head-up display, which projects driving information onto the windscreen in front of the driver. It also gets an upgraded Burmester sound system.
Options include a range of paint colours and a Driving Assistance packaging, which gives limited autonomous driving capability on motorways. This allows the car to take over accelerating, braking and steering duties, although the driver still has overall responsibility.
If you’re interested in a Mercedes EQA then there are a few other cars you should check out. Obvious rivals include the Audi A4 E-Tron, which offers up to 331 miles of range and is slightly better to drive, as well as being more practical. Then there’s the Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge, which isn’t quite as nice inside but has scintillating straight line performance, and the Polestar 2, which promises more driving, as does the BMW iX3. Other competition includes the eye-catching Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Kia e-Niro, as well as non-SUVs like the Tesla Model 3. Such is the rate of progression of electric cars at the moment, there will almost definitely be more rivals on the market by the time you read this.
The Mercedes EQA has plenty to like about it, including slick looks, a great interior and plenty of passenger space. It’s hampered by a disappointingly small boot and competent if uninspiring performance, in a class of electric vehicle where plenty of rivals offer better. However, if you don’t need to carry lots of luggage, and aren’t fussed about putting a smile on your face when driving, then it’s definitely worth checking out. Just be aware that there are rivals available that could be even closer to your ideal EV SUV.
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Mercedes EQA
**Correct as of 12/08/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,671.89 - Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.