2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA review

The latest model from Mercedes-EQ is a GLA-based EV that drives like a big Benz in a city-friendly package. Is it a Model 3 beater?

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James Wong
James Wong
Production Editor
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PROS
  • Superbly refined for a little car
  • Effortless, linear power delivery
  • Adaptive dampers offer plush ride – even on 20s
CONS
  • Numerous alternatives offer better value and/or range for similar/less money
  • Compromised rear seat and small-ish boot due to battery packaging
  • EQ design elements may polarise

A-B-C-D-E-F-G – which EQ is best for me?

The Mercedes-EQ electric sub-brand has been busy churning out a range of all-electric luxury cars based on popular Mercedes-Benz passenger and SUV lines.

Second to hit Australian showrooms after the GLC-based EQC is the new EQA, a compact EV crossover sharing its bones with the new GLA – not an electric A-Class as previewed by the Concept EQA design study.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA will be available with two drivetrain options before the end of this year, with prices starting from $76,800 plus on-road costs for the front-drive EQA 250 you see here.

So has Mercedes-Benz done enough to tempt buyers away from the Hyundai Kona Electric and Tesla Model 3?

We attended the Australian media launch in Melbourne to find out.

How much does the Mercedes-Benz EQA cost?

As noted above, the EQA line-up will consist of two drivetrain variants before the end of 2021, with the entry-level EQA 250 starting from just under $77,000.

That means the EQA doesn’t qualify for the $3000 EV subsidy in Victoria ($69,000 threshold), though in NSW you’ll have your stamp duty waived if you limit options ($78,000 threshold) and purchase after September 1.

Mercedes-Benz will offer two versions of the EQA 250 at launch, the base car as well as a highly specified EQA 250 Edition 1 which adds $7300.

See the price list below:

  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250: $76,800
  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 Edition 1: $84,100
  • 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 350 4Matic: $TBA

All prices exclude on-road costs

The dual-motor EQA 350 4Matic will arrive late in 2021, with pricing and specifications to be confirmed closer to launch.

The EQA’s most direct competition is somewhat limited to the new Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric ($76,990) due in the third quarter of 2021, while the Tesla Model 3 Long Range lists for $77,900 before on-road costs.

The Mercedes-Benz EQA is also not far off the prices of the Hyundai Kona Electric Highlander ($66,000) and Kia Niro EV Sport ($65,990), both of which qualify for rebates in Victoria and NSW.

Hyundai and Kia are also preparing the Ioniq 5 and EV6 respectively for Australian launches later in the year, both on the same dedicated electric vehicle platforms and likely offering equivalent spec and performance to high-grade premium players for similar money to entry-level variants. Food for thought.

What do you get?

Standard equipment on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 includes:

  • 19-inch AMG alloy wheels with run-flat tyres
  • Adaptive dampers with selectable modes
  • Multi-link rear suspension
  • MBUX infotainment with dual 10.25-inch screens
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (wired)
  • Satellite navigation
  • DAB+ digital radio
  • Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
  • Remotely actuated pre-entry climate control
  • Power tailgate with kick opening
  • Wireless phone charging
  • Heated, powered front seats with memory
  • Artico faux leather trim
  • Driver Assistance Package
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
    • Active lane centring
    • Route-based speed adaptation

Opting for the Edition 1 package adds:

  • 20-inch AMG multispoke alloy wheels in matte copper
  • AMG Line exterior package
  • Extended gloss black detailing
  • Grey and blue ‘Cyber Cut’ genuine leather upholstery
  • Contrast blue stitching
  • LED backlit trim inlays
  • Sports steering wheel with perforated grips
  • AMG pedals
  • Illuminated door sill panels
  • Edition 1 floor mats
  • Edition 1 key gob with copper surround

Is the Mercedes-Benz EQA safe?

The EQA is yet to be subjected to crash testing by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, and the same goes for the GLA it’s based on.

With that said, the related A-Class and GLB have both scored five stars.

Standard safety equipment for the EQA includes nine airbags scattered throughout the cabin, as well as the following active safety features:

  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Lane Change Assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
  • Auto high-beam
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Traffic sign monitoring
  • Reversing camera

What is the Mercedes-Benz EQA like on the inside?

Short answer is, almost exactly like a GLA.

If you’re the kind of person that prefers an electrified car to look and feel like its combustion-powered equivalents, the EQA’s cabin will more or less work for you.

The GLA – and the wider A-Class and B-Class family – has struck a chord with buyers thanks to its glossy MBUX dual displays, general high-quality finishes, and of course the big thee-pointed star on the steering wheel hub. Here in the EQA, it’s much of the same.

Up front the driver is treated to a creamy nappa leather steering wheel with multifunction controls, as well as paddles that toggle the regenerative braking modes rather than shifting gears like you’ll find in the GLA.

There’s the lovely dual 10.25-inch MBUX displays as well, encompassing the driver instrument binnacle as well as the central infotainment system.

You’ll find native satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the ‘Hey Mercedes’ intelligent virtual assistant, and your usual Bluetooth phone/audio streaming, DAB radio as well as a wireless phone charger.

Available as an option is the ‘MBUX High’ which adds an augmented reality (AR) function to the navigation system, using a front-facing camera to stream real-time video onto the infotainment display and project street names, navigation instructions and more for a techy, video-game-like experience.

Something I’ve taken issue with just about every current Mercedes-Benz I’ve reviewed is the lack of storage for a larger phone when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It’s as if the centre console was designed for a wireless setup, with everything fitting nicely when there’s no hard-wired connection.

With a wired connection there’s nowhere to store your phone if it’s large, as it doesn’t fit in the phone holder and the cables stick out to the point you can’t close the drawer. It just seems ill-thought and this is the case with the entire range in my experience.

While we’re on the negatives, the chunky dashboard makes the 10.25-inch MBUX screens look a tad small. The standard Artico leatherette upholstery looks and feels like the real deal but doesn’t present as super posh being heavily grained, and some of the plastics used lower down in the cabin are hard and scratchy.

Overall though, the cabin fit and finish feels a cut above the bulk of mainstream alternatives – especially something like a Kona Electric, which is very plasticky.

The EQA is compromised a bit in the second row due to the raised floor to accommodate the battery underneath the floor. If you’re taller like me (at 6’1) you might feel like your knees are forced up and your posture is a little off. A long journey would likely leave you with a sore bum.

It’s otherwise like a GLA offering decent head, knee and legroom, though toe room again suffers due to the raised floor when the front seats are in their lowest position. There are directional air vents, however, as well as map pockets and bottle holders in the doors.

The boot area is similarly impacted, if to a lesser extent. Quoted capacity is 340L, with a boot floor 10mm higher than a GLA. Dimensionally, it measures 797mm by 1050mm (L x W).

With the rear seats folded (almost flat), there’s a claimed 1320L available. For reference, a GLA250 4Matic quotes 435L/1430L.

What’s under the bonnet?

Power in the EQA 250 comes from a front-mounted asynchronous electric motor outputting 140kW and 375Nm. There’s a single-speed transmission that has been configured “for the requirements of the front-wheel drive system”.

The 420V lithium-ion battery pack’s capacity measures 66.5kWh (usable), with Australian-spec cars claiming 412 kilometres (WLTP, combined) of range per charge. With the optional panoramic sunroof, that drops to 408km.

Claimed energy consumption is rated at 16.2kWh/100km (ADR, combined), with the battery itself part of a thermal management system that can be heated or cooled using a coolant-fed plate underneath the battery.

The EQA can be charged from 10-80 per cent using the available Mercedes-Benz Wallbox in around 4 hours 15 minutes (AC, 11kW), and is compatible with 100kW DC fast-charging capable of replenishing the same amount of charge in just 30 minutes.

Mercedes-Benz Australia will also be supplying two cables – an 8m Australian domestic socket cable, and a 5m public charge station cable – which are compatible with the inbuilt Type 2 CCS plug.

How does the Mercedes-Benz EQA drive?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have super high hopes for the EQA’s on-road refinement given my previous experience with the GLA. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

During the route on the Australian media drive we sampled both the standard EQA 250 on 19-inch wheels and versions wearing 20-inch rims, both shod in run-flat tyres.

On both wheel and tyre variations, the EQA was super impressive in terms of comfort and refinement, feeling like a true Benz on the move.

The cabin is whisper quiet, the ride is supple (cushy even) to the point you’d almost be fooled into thinking you’re on air suspension. The adaptive dampers, at least when they’re not AMG-tuned, are superb in their range of adjustment and do what they say on the tin.

You want Comfort? It’s bloody comfortable.

As for performance, the e-motor’s 140kW/375Nm outputs may seem underwhelming on paper to some, especially when you consider most EV fanatics’ obsession with high-powered Teslas with Ludicrous Mode, but the way the EQA gets its power down is again super luxe.

Mercedes has obviously tuned the EQA 250 for buttery smooth, linear power delivery and it shows. There’s a progression to how the electric motor gets its power down that limits wheel spin off the line without dulling response – personally, this is how I prefer electrified motoring.

You can also toggle several regenerative braking modes via the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. There’s D Auto, D +, D, D – and D –, with the ‘Auto’ setting being a radar-based profile that adjusts the intensity on the fly based on traffic conditions – i.e. as you come to a stop at an intersection it’ll add resistance, while driving on a quiet street it coasts.

I couldn’t get my head around it, because my brain has been tuned to accept just one regen setting, but I can see the appeal and it’s an interesting point of difference.

Our drive route included a lengthy stint through Melbourne’s south-eastern and eastern suburbs, before winding through the far-eastern hills to Seville.

In town the EQA is comfortable, quiet and effortless to drive. Head out of town and despite a 300kg weight gain over its GLA250 counterpart, the EQA handles with confidence and finesse, threading through corners with a level of fluidity and sure-footedness more befitting of a larger car without feeling heavy or cumbersome.

Flick into Sport and everything firms up and sharpens up to make the EQA feel a little more athletic, but really that’s not what this car is all about. Yes you can have a bit of fun but it’s better left in Comfort as it offers an excellent balance between performance and refinement.

Should you want a little more pep, best to wait for the EQA 350 4Matic due before year’s end. With a dual-motor electric drivetrain developing a meaty 215kW and 520Nm, the all-paw EQA cuts the claimed 0-100 time to a hot hatch-like 6.0 seconds (down from 8.9 seconds).

With that said, we don’t know pricing for Australia just yet. Given the EQA 250 starts around $77,000 it wouldn’t surprise us if the EQA 350’s sticker starts with an 8 or even a 9.

How much does the Mercedes-Benz EQA cost to run?

Like the wider Mercedes-Benz range, the EQA is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty which is one of the leading programs in the premium segments.

Scheduled servicing is required every 12 months or 25,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.

Pre-paid servicing plans are available for the EQA, covering up to five years or 125,000km. The five-year package costs $2200.

Our launch drive route wasn’t really indicative of real-world driving despite the mix of urban and extra urban environments, so we’ll need to get the EQA in for a more realistic idea of its real-world energy consumption.

We did, however, travel some 150-200km with some more dynamic, heavy-footed stints and we ended the day with around half a battery’s worth of charge.

CarExpert’s Take on the Mercedes-Benz EQA

The second member of the EQ family is a competitive offering in the premium compact EV segment, if not a standout against an emerging competitor set.

It’s arguably the most luxurious and refined version of the GLA you can buy at the moment, and offers a familiar cabin and features if you’re a Benz customer.

There are some caveats, though. The EQA 250 lacks the performance of both the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and the new Volvo XC40 Recharge EV, while the cheaper Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV Sport offer more range for less money (and qualify for rebates).

Further, the compromised packaging in the back seat and boot as a result of the electric hardware is worth noting, and ticking options boxes will send the price beyond the $90,000 mark once it hits the road.

Give it a look, but there’s better value options out there.

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MORE: Everything Mercedes-Benz EQA

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James Wong
James Wong

James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert.

Learn about CarExpert or contact CarExpert.
Ratings
Overall8
Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8
Ride Comfort 9.5
Fit for Purpose 8
Handling Dynamics 8.5
Interior Practicality and Space 7
Fuel Efficiency 8
Value for Money 7
Performance 7.5
Technology Infotainment 8.5
Top Line Specs
140kW
Not tested
View all specifications

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