Mercedes-Benz eqa 2021 250

2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA250 launch review

Rating: 8.2
$76,800 Mrlp
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The second piece of Mercedes-Benz’s electric vehicle puzzle has fallen into place in Australia. We take a look at the brand-new EQA small SUV.
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Mercedes-Benz’s electric EQ strategy is starting to gain real traction in Australia with the arrival of its second all-electric model, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA electric SUV. It’s a small SUV based on its petrol-powered GLA stablemate, and is designed to offer a more affordable alternative to the mid-sized EQC.

Much like its larger sibling, the EQA is based upon existing architecture, so it shares a great deal of its looks, specifications and equipment with the petrol Mercedes-Benz GLA. Like for like, Mercedes has priced the EQA about $10K more expensive than the petrol GLA250 – that said, the EQA scores more kit as standard.

A logical way to explain this car is by comparing it to the GLA, so I’ll keep doing that. Though it shares the body of the GLA, Mercedes has changed up some of the details by developing the EQA’s aerodynamic 0.28cd design digitally.

Seeing as it’s based on the GLA, this allows Mercedes-Benz to produce the electric EQA alongside conventional fuel-powered versions of Mercedes’s entry-level SUV. The upcoming EQB SUV (an electric based on the Mercedes-Benz GLB) will use the same MFA (modular front architecture) structure when it arrives on Australian soil in 2022.

However, not before Mercedes’s flagship electric product becomes available. The limousine-like EQS is set to become the most technically advanced electric car from the German marque yet and will lob towards the end of the year.

But away from the alphabet soup and back to the car in question, the EQA. It’s offered as a sole variant for the moment – the 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA250 heads up the range with a thermally managed 66.5kWh battery that sends power to a 140kW/375Nm electric motor. Only the front wheels are powered by a single-speed mechanical transmission.

Pricing starts from $76,800 before on-road costs, and for that coin you get a solid base of standard equipment including Mercedes’s ubiquitous dual 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment system, wireless smartphone charging, heated and electrically-adjustable front seats, adaptive damping, 19-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, Artico faux leather upholstery, DAB+ digital radio, and a complimentary three-year/unlimited subscription to selected Chargefox rapid and ultra-rapid charging points.

2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA250
Electric motorAsynchronous motor
Power and torque140kW/375Nm
Battery size66.5kWh
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Electric range (WLTP)426km
0-100km/h time8.9 seconds
Tare weight2038kg
Power consumption claim (combined)17.7kWh/100km (WLTP)
Power consumption tested22.5kWh/100km
Boot volume340L/1320L
Turning circle11.4m

Mercedes-Benz claims the car can run up to 480km (using older, more lenient NEDC parameters) before needing a recharge, though that figure drops to 426km under the widely accepted WLTP test cycle, designed to more closely reflect real-world use.

Mercedes says the car can be DC fast-charged from 10-70 per cent charge in 30 minutes, or will charge from 10-80 per cent in four hours and 15 minutes using Mercedes’s own home Wallbox charger. Of course, the EQA can be recharged using a regular 240-volt home outlet with the supplied charger, though that’s more of an overnight operation.

For better or worse, the EQA looks like a conventional car compared to some of its contemporaries. Looks are a subjective aspect of automotive appraisal, but I find some of the out-there looks from BMW (in regards to the iX) and other electric cars to be a bit try-hard.

Designers have blanked off the space where the front grille should be and added a full-width light bar at each end of the vehicle. The interior looks near exactly the same as the GLA, with the two widescreen displays dominating the space, as well as all the high-quality materials we’ve come to expect from the current Mercedes range. There are EQ-themed graphics as part of the infotainment system and some unique trim panels, though it presents as a familiar Mercedes-Benz space.

That’s good news for returning Mercedes-Benz customers, as much of the interior, functionality, and features all work the same as an internal combustion-engined Benz.

It’s a nice, light, and airy space aided especially by the $2300 panoramic sunroof optioned on the test car. It was also fitted with the AMG Line sports package ($2950), which includes a range of sporty styling enhancements both inside and out.

The sports seats are figure-hugging and comfortable, while the view out over the road ahead is commanding. A multifunction steering wheel is wrapped in nappa leather and sits in front of a configurable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. There’s such legibility and information on offer from that screen, you almost don’t need the head-up display that came fitted to our test car, as part of the $2500 Innovation package.

Working the MBUX infotainment screen is relatively simple, though I personally preferred using the old rotary dial as opposed to the touchpad you find paired to the system today. Luckily the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice-command assistant is generally very good at understanding spoken instructions, and the screen itself is touch-sensitive for using systems like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There are three USB-C ports up front, as well as a 12-volt outlet for charging various devices.

Storage-wise, the EQA caters well for the everyday bits and pieces, though loses some space (compared to the GLA) due to the 480kg battery, which is separated into three parts underneath the floor. Boot space is rated at a lower 340 litres as the underfloor storage space is lost due to packaging constraints. In a GLA250 you'd find 435 litres.

Space in general isn’t affected too much by the underfloor battery, with a comfortable amount of room in the first row for tall occupants and adequate adjustability from the heated, electric memory seats. Everything you could want is at hand.

Back seat passengers aren’t as lucky as those in the first row, as the presence of the battery underneath means the floor has been raised. This, in turn, means that passengers’ knees will be awkwardly set higher than usual, which can become tiresome on longer drives.

On the road, one of the first impressions I received was the supreme level of ride quality and tranquillity of the cabin. Usually the absence of an internal combustion engine heightens the auditory sense to detect more road and wind noise; however, both are well controlled in the EQA.

Rebound control over large bumps is cushy, which makes for a serene experience through residential roads. It manages to iron out broken roads and potholes without much fuss on faster stretches of tarmac too.

For the sportier stuff, the adaptive damping can be firmed up to provide a more sure-footed driving experience through twists and bends. Its 2038kg tare weight isn’t exactly the most driver-friendly thing to wield – and you wouldn’t call it a sports car in any sense of the term – but pedalling the hefty EQA through bends isn’t the unpleasant experience you’d expect it to be.

The steering firms up in sports mode for a more solid weight to play with through corners. Its heavyset body does make itself known around corners as the car pushes a bit wider than you’d expect. Though, considering next to no owners will use an EQA in such a way, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Acceleration isn’t the melt-your-face-off type that we’ve come to expect from electric vehicles. It is rapid when compared to combustion-engine cars, but most of that feel is related to the immediacy of power rather than the amount.

Power is sent to the front wheels through a fixed-ratio gearbox. The EQA puts its power down well through Pirelli P Zero tyres without that sensation of torque steer exhibited by some other EVs. The EQA250's 8.9-second 0-100km/h claim is closer to the GLA200 (8.7sec) than it is the all-wheel drive GLA250 (6.7sec).

On a drive loop encapsulating some of Melbourne's urban roads and greater Victoria, the EQA250 returned a 22.5kWh/100km energy consumption. That's slightly higher than we've come to experience with other EVs, though this test drive didn't have much stop/start driving that is kinder to an EV's range. The official combined claim is 17.7kWh/100km.

A neat aspect of the EQA is its energy recuperation system, which is controlled by the paddles on the back of the steering wheel. Depending on the driving conditions, the driver can choose between four different modes, D--, D-, D auto and D+, to alter the level of regenerative braking when you step off the throttle.

D-- is the most aggressive, whereas in D+ the car essentially coasts along until you hit the brake pedal. D auto is the most interesting mode of the lot, using the car’s radar system to judge when the car should brake itself. It works just like adaptive cruise control in practice, though there’s no engaging of specific modes, and a press of the brake pedal won’t cancel the D auto regenerative braking mode.

It proves quite handy in city driving, where you rarely need to pump the brakes yourself, except when coming to a complete stop.

This new mode of driving was one of the most unfamiliar parts of driving the new EQA – which is telling considering the EQA is powered by electricity rather than petrol. ‘Going electric’ just isn’t the gargantuan leap that you’d expect it to be.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to the end buyer. But considering all the chatter about how different the world will be running on electricity rather than oil, luckily cars such as the EQA exist as a familiar stepping stone.

There are some downsides to adapting the GLA’s platform to electric power, namely the compromises on space and rear seat comfort. Yet the benefits of using existing equipment, technology and functionality will make the switch to electric power that much easier for a large number of buyers.

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