2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 review
Our independent 2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 review in Australia, including price, specs, interior, ride and handling, safety and score.
Mercedes-Benz chose to re-engineer its combustion-engine car platform when creating the electric-only EQ lineup, and while in the inaugural electric EQC it resulted in an expensive model, the EQA is a much more price-attractive proposition that has most of the flair buyers expect from a Mercedes-Benz.
Competitors are not thick on the ground either, so at the moment it stands out that little bit more. The Volvo XC40 P8 is not here, neither the VW ID 4 (which has no confirmation) or the Polestar 2. They’re all absent premium crossover electric vehicles which leave the mainstream Kia Niro and Hyundai Kona as the closest rivals, and the Tesla Model 3, albeit a comparative low rider.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There are two trim levels available, starting with the entry at $76,800 plus on-road costs, and the Edition 1 at $84,100.
The base model is a permanent fixture in the lineup and comes plump full of equipment considering the price: 19-inch alloys, adaptive dampers, twin 10.25-inch screens running MBUX with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charging, satellite navigation, gesture control, DAB+ radio, keyless entry, push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control and heated and electric seats (front).
The Edition 1 adds larger 20-inch alloys, leather seats and AMG trim elements inside and out.
Optional are three packs – Innovations ($2500), AMG Line ($2925), and the Vision Pack ($2900).
WHAT DOES IT COST TO OWN?
Mercedes-Benz’s warranty coverage is five years/unlimited kilometres. The battery is covered for eight years but 160,000km.
Recommended service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, with pricing capped for the first five years at$2200 – three and four-year servicing is available at $1300 and $1800 respectively.
WHAT’S THE INTERIOR LIKE?
Despite being what seems like a value-priced entry-level, the base model EQA 250 is nicely finished and quality, on the whole, is good. You’ll certainly see that plenty of influence and design cues are inspired from some of the nicest Mercedes models money can buy, just minus the size and opulence of materials.
There are some nice soft touchpoints, however, and the materials for buttons and controls feel well put together. The upholstery is quite nice too, along with comfortable ergonomics. The upper dash has some nice features and the same can be said for the door sills. The lower dash parts are simpler plastic but discreet and unnoticeable. The main point of focus is the large MBUX twin-screen setup which really stands out.
WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE?
Ubiquitous with Mercedes-Benz is the MBUX system that uses natural voice control, touch and button input as well as gesture control to make life on the road a little simpler. In the EQA it is a twin 10.25-inch screen layout that is customised to show things like driving range and EV efficiency for the driver’s display, while the main screen is the base for media entertainment and car settings.
With mobile connectivity, there are added features and the voice command works quite well – you can do more than just play songs (like open the sunroof) and it will learn your habits over time, such as regular phone calls you might have at a certain time of day, and it will suggest that action to you before you have done it.
WHAT IS THE STORAGE LIKE?
Upfront, the room is quite nice and even tall occupants will find a good position on the electrically adjustable seats. The centre console holds enough gear that you can quickly throw in some phones and a wallet, while the door pockets are good enough for a 500ml bottle of water.
Things change behind the two front seats. The rear seat room is a bit tight for big bodies though headroom is fine. The seats are comfortable, so it’s not a bad spot for touring with friends. The boot is tight too, measuring 340-litres, but this is not unique in the EV segment and there are conventional crossovers with even less room back there, though there are also hatchbacks with more.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The electric motor drives the front wheels exclusively and produces 140kW with 375Nm of torque through a single-speed transmission. Power-conscious drivers might want to wait for the EQA 350 with its 215kW and 500Nm twin-motor (AWD) setup, but for regular driving duties and even a little enthusiastic driving, the 250 is more than enough. For most EV drivers it’s all about efficiency anyway, right?
Mercedes-Benz claims that energy consumption is 17.7kWh per 100km on the WLTP testing regime and while that might be achievable with a feather foot and time to spare, regular driving will see a figure around 20kWh. Considering the two-tonne weight of the vehicle that’s reasonable – in our long-term test of the Nissan Leaf we ran around 18kWh, and that’s a smaller vehicle.
The battery is 66.5kWh large and Mercedes says that 480km driving range is possible but WLTP measurement brings it down to around 425km. With power consumption at 20kWh you’ll be getting closer to 350km range when driving regularly. This is enough for most tourist spots out of town and with access to a charger you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Plugged into a DC fast charger the battery will replenish from 10 to 70 per cent capacity in half an hour. Using a 32amp wallbox that time ballons to a bit under four hours and using a normal 10amp plug at home you can expect overnight charging to be the only way to get a meaningful range back.
On the road, the EQA feels nimble and the instant whack of electric torque gets you moving fast, though it isn’t unwieldy thanks to a progressive delivery at the front wheels. Mind, you can spin up the fronts a touch when getting heavy on the accelerator around the bends.
The regenerative braking is via a recuperation system controlled with paddles on the steering wheel. The four modes are D–, D-, D and D+. Essentially, D+ lets the car coast while D– is aggressive on the brakes (think one-pedal driving), but D is a semi-automated mode that uses radar sensors to judge when and how the car should brake. It’s a little weird at first but has a predictable reaction after you’re used to it.
The steering is light and accurate and feels easy around town, particularly with the small proportions of the EQA to something like the EQC. The body has a tendency to roll in corners so it is not very sporty (that’s what the EQA 350 will be) but it doesn’t mind moving along quickly and always feels safe and confident underneath.
The adaptive dampers in comfort help to provide a layer of refinement in compliance though they feel a bit firm for most surfaces in sport mode. Likewise, the steering if firmer in sport mode though it is likely many will enjoy the pleasant driving experience by leaving the car in comfort – and you still get the full whack of acceleration when wanted.
Inside is a refined and quiet place to be, too. Little noise comes into the cabin thanks to the lack of a combustion engine, great NVH isolation, and non-existant whistling from the car’s exterior mirrors.
HOW SAFE IS IT?
Both EuroNCAP and ANCAP are yet to test the EQA so we don’t have a score to judge off. But it has nine airbags and a long list of safety assistant aids. This includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go and lane departure warning with steering assist. These both work very well. Route-based speed adaption is available too, and there’s blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, parking assist and more.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Just like owning an electric car right now owning a Mercedes-Benz is an inspirational achievement for many. Having both together seems like it would push the EQA 250 out of reach (particularly after seeing the EQC price tag) but in the EV segment, it’s affordable. Yes, $76k is not cheap, but $50-60k for a Nissan hatch isn’t either…or $62k for a Hyundai Kona or Kia Niro. The Mazda MX-30 is even more at $65k. Those last few options are crossovers and put the EQA firmly in sight. Is it worth the additional ten grand? Many will agree to own the badge is worth it, and the five-year warranty and five-year fixed-price servicing help with that. The driving is on par with rivals, with similar range and performance, though the feel inside, design, and some of the tech is unique, and likely where the decision will be swayed for those that can stump up a little extra cash.