Mercedes is on the verge of launching its first purpose-built electric car; the EQA isn’t it.
Some automakers seem to have been caught on the wrong foot by the sudden surge in demand for electric vehicles, as well as governments' crackdown on the ICE. They have had to change their long-term strategy on the fly and being forced to build electric vehicles they were not planning to build, they have launched a series of all-electric versions of ICE models, like the brand new Mercedes-Benz EQA.
It’s not hard to see that visually, this is just a GLA with some slight design tweaks on the outside, while inside you will be hard pressed to spot anything that’s different. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not a bad electric vehicle, but it’s not on par with vehicles designed from the ground up to be electric; read on to find out why and make sure to watch the video above
It has a 66.5 kWh battery pack that gives it a claimed WLTP range of 426 km / 264 miles. It has not been rated by the EPA because it’s not yet clear if it will, in fact, go on sale in the United States (there’s a strong chance that it won’t). But if the EPA were to rate it, the range it would produce would probably be around the 200-mile mark, which is around what you should expect from it in real world conditions.
My tester was the EQA 250, the base front-wheel drive variant that has a 187 horsepower electric motor, and a claimed nought to 100 km/h (62 mph) time of 8.9 seconds. It’s definitely not the quickest BEV crossover on the market, and it’s not especially quick off the line, but it’s actually pretty punchy once on the move.
If you’re thinking of buying an EQA but want actual performance, then you may want to opt for one of the recently unveiled dual-motor models (EQA 300 and EQA 350) which are far quicker to accelerate. They all have the same battery pack, though, and the EQA 250 is the longest range model.
Take one look at the EQA, and it’s pretty clear that visually speaking, it’s just a GLA with redesigned fascias. It gets full-width light bars front and back, as well as unique headlights and rear light clusters. There are also some EQA badges at the base of the A-pillars and because it now has a light bar going across the middle of the rear hatch, Mercedes has had to relocated the badge and turn it into the trunk lid release.
Inside, you wouldn’t really know this is the EQA and not a GLA, especially since my AMG Pack tester got red contrasting stitching (instead of the EQA’s standard blue), as well as AMG-branded mats (instead of the standard ones that say EQA, with blue details). The only way to tell it apart from the GLA is to look at the digital gauge cluster (which is EV specific) and also find the EQ menu in the MBUX infotainment system.
Oh, and because the EQA has a big battery under the floor, rear passenger comfort is affected because the floor is higher than in the GLA. This pushes rear occupants’ knees higher and it just makes for a more awkward sitting position. The battery pack basically ends under the front seats, so the front occupants don’t have this problem.
Out on the road, the EQA is remarkably quiet and civilized to drive. Soundproofing is top notch, even if it doesn’t have double glazing, and the peace is only really disturbed by occasional clonking noises from the suspension and some wind whistle from the mirrors at higher speeds (it is a bit noisy at top speed which is 160 km/h / 99.4 mph).
Under normal driving conditions, it’s a great companion, with comfortable seats, compliant suspension and a very pleasant interior ambiance. However, throw it into a corner, and the fact that it’s some 500 kg / 1,100 pound heavier than a comparable front-wheel drive GLA becomes apparent. With a claimed total mass of just under 2 tons, the EQA feels a bit wobbly and unsettled during spirited cornering - the suspension allows for a lot of lean and the extra weight makes things all wobbly and not very pleasant.
And having just returned the Volkswagen ID.4 right before picking up the EQA 250, I really noticed the difference. The VW feels planted, surefooted and composed (it’s almost fun, although it needs more power to really be called fun) and it driving dynamics put the EQA’s to shame. The weight penalty and inevitable effect on handling are probably my biggest gripes with the EQA.
The price is another, frankly. My tester cost close to €57,000 (almost $70,000), but it wasn’t that quick, it wasn’t fully loaded (no 360-degree surround view system, no electric seats, no climate controls for the rear) and aside from being a Mercedes which is certainly an appealing prospect in and of itself, there is nothing to really recommend this car over its rivals (aside from the superior interior quality and infotainment).
It just makes me want to wait for Mercedes’ dedicated EQ models that are not built on ICE vehicles’ underpinnings. The EQA still has plenty going for it, and it is an admirable attempt at turning an ICE vehicle into an EV, but I just can’t bring myself to recommend it knowing there are other much better battery-powered high riders on the market, some that you can even pick up for considerably less.
Gallery: 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 AMG Pack