2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 AMG Line UK-spec H243 first drive
The smallest SUV in the Mercedes canon gets electric power, a smooth makeover and the ‘EQA’ badge – we’ve driven it. Words Shane O’ Donoghue Images Daimler AG.
She’s electric Our first drive of the new electric EQA hatchback, based on the hugely successful GLA crossover
Mercedes-Benz UK has launched the EQA, its smallest and most affordable electric car. As the name suggests, it’s based on the likeable second-generation GLA. It won’t take a complete Mercedes anorak to spot the GLA’s shape under the EQ-related changes, but the EQA does look notably different. Up front, the GLA’s SUV grille, expressive bumper design and faux-off-road underbody protection are replaced by much smoother surfacing in the EQA, including a blankedoff grille and a new design of LED headlights. It gets a little more definition if you go for one of the AMG Line versions (pictured), but the new nose has the effect of making the EQA look meeker than the GLA, somehow.
“Mercedes has calibrated the response to be notably nippy, even in the Comfort setting”
Stick with the entry-level Sport model and that theme continues with bespoke aerodynamic 18-inch alloy wheels and a restrained design for the exhaustless rear bumper. The AMG Line cars look better and are expected to be the most popular. Nonetheless, all versions of the EQA get new full-width LED lights for the back end which, along with the movement of the numberplate to the bumper and the use of a large three-pointed star in the middle of the hatch for opening, further differentiates the electric version. There’s badging on the boot and ahead of the door mirrors if you miss the other cues.
You’ll have to delve into the menu system of the ‘widescreen cockpit’, twin 10-inch display MBUX system to tell the front cabin of the EQA apart from that of the GLA. The electric model gets a unique instrumentation design and other sub-menus to keep an eye on energy consumption and charging. It all works as wonderfully as ever, and there’s a sense of really high quality, too.
The rear seating isn’t bad, though the floor has been raised in comparison to that of the GLA (to make space for the battery), which means that taller passengers will find their knees up higher than they might like. That compromise extends to the boot, which now holds 340 litres, as opposed to 495 litres in the front-wheel drive GLA. There is a shallow area under the boot floor that might just about take a charging cable.
Back in the driver’s seat, the EQA is comfortable thanks to lots of adjustment in the position, and you sit upright with a great view out in all directions. The driving controls all appear standard fayre, with the usual drive selector stalk on the right-hand side of the steering wheel, and there are paddles behind the helm.
Those paddles don’t change gear, though. Instead, they alter the level of brake energy regeneration. In other words, when you take your foot off the accelerator to slow down, the electric motor switches into generator mode, and it actively uses the kinetic energy in the car to charge up the battery pack. The paddles can be used to choose how strong the deceleration due to this is, through four different settings, from no regeneration at one extreme (ideal for motorway driving) to a quite intense effect at the other, meaning you hardly need to use the brake pedal at all. The latter is referred to as one-pedal driving and, while it takes some getting used to, it works well in an urban environment.
Silently does it
There are various driving modes too, as we’re used to across the Mercedes-Benz range, with Comfort the default option and Sport for more response. The EQA additionally gets two ‘E’ settings for maximum efficiency, allowing you eke out the maximum range from the battery.
On that subject, the first model to arrive is the EQA250, featuring a lithium-ion battery pack with 66.5kWh of usable energy. That is sent to the front-mounted 140kW electric motor, which means up to 187bhp in old money. Of more importance is the significant 277lb ft of torque also produced, pretty much from the moment you press the accelerator. It defines the driving experience to a certain extent, as Mercedes has calibrated the response to be notably nippy, even in the Comfort setting. There’s even a vague sense of torque steer if you ask for maximum acceleration. Nonetheless, the EQA does this quietly and traction is smoothly kept in check. The lacklustre 0-62mph time is due to the considerable mass of the EQA (just over two tonnes), but it doesn’t convey how quick this car feels away from a standstill.
The chassis itself is pretty sorted, too, if lacking in anything approaching engagement. The steering is completely devoid of useful feedback, though the tyres cling on gamely, and though it has been set up for stability and safety first and foremost, there is some mid-corner adjustment available with deft use of the accelerator. It’s competent rather than sporty, in essence.
Under more scrutiny from would-be buyers is the electric range, and Mercedes quotes 263 miles for the EQA250 Sport tested here on 18-inch wheels. What’s more, over a few days testing on a wide variety of roads, including an hour on the motorway, we matched the official average consumption figure, so we’d expect most drivers to easily extract over 200 miles from a charge. And it can be fast-charged at a DC rate of up to 100kW if required (see separate box).
What it costs
That range is likely to be well within the needs of many small SUV buyers, but the starting price of the EQA, £44,495 OTR, means it’s considerably more expensive than even the plug-in hybrid GLA, never mind the regular petrol and diesel variants. Other taxation incentives will be needed to make it a worthwhile purchase for most, unfortunately.
Just the facts 2022 Mercedes-EQ EQA250 H243
- MOTOR Asynchronous, 66.5kWh battery capacity
- MAX POWER 187bhp (140kW)
- MAX TORQUE 277lb ft
- TRANSMISSION 1-speed auto, FWD
- WEIGHT 2,040kg
- 0-62MPH 8.9sec
- TOP SPEED 99mph
- RANGE 249-263 miles
- CO2 EMISSIONS 0g/km
- YEARS PRODUCED 2021-on
All figures from Mercedes-Benz; electric range according to WLTP
MBUX with two 10-inch screens as standard. AMG Line spec brings these 18-inch alloys. Touchpad controls the infotainment.
“Under more scrutiny from would-be buyers is the electric range, and Mercedes quotes 263 miles for the EQA250 Sport”
Lithium-ion battery housed in the vehicle’s floor. EQA has a useful 495-litre boot capacity. Two cables as standard, one with 11kW rating.
- Source Amount of charge Time
- AC outlet From 10 to 100% 30hrs (230V/13A)
- Wall box From 10 to 100% 5hrs 45min (400V/16A)
- Public rapid charging From 10 to 80% 30min (100kW)