Mercedes-Benz EQA 250+ First Drive Review: Straightforward Electric Luxury

  • Jul 11, 2024
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No gimmicks and nothing over the top. The Mercedes-Benz EQA is a sensible electric luxury car. But it’s also nothing more than that.

The EQA is the most affordable Mercedes-Benz electric car sold in India. At a price of Rs 66 lakh (ex-showroom), it sits below the Mercedes-Benz EQB and EQE SUV in the brand’s lineup of electric SUVs in India, soon to be joined by the EQS SUV and electric G-Class. The EQA is the electric counterpart to the GLA and its most direct rivals include the BMW iX1 and Volvo XC40 Recharge

The BYD Seal, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 are also available for similar or less money. The EQA is sold in India as a direct import.

Design

The EQA strikes a healthy balance between looking like a traditional Mercedes-Benz car while blending in just the right level of changes to tell it apart as an EV. The core curvy styling is similar to the GLA but then you spot the star-riddled front radiator shell and the connected LED lights at the front and rear, besides the EQA+ badge at the rear. 

FYI - The headlights support adaptive high beam assist, that automatically switches the high beam on when there isn’t traffic ahead (or oncoming)

The EQA’s dimensions make it look and feel right at home in the city and the 19-inch AMG wheels (235/50 run-flat tyres) are a sporty touch on an otherwise subtle design. Does it grab attention? Absolutely, and we had people walk up to the car asking to take photographs with it. In that sense, it’s more of a conversation starter than the BMW iX1 that’s almost impossible to tell apart from the BMW X1 that it’s based on, as is the case with the Volvo XC40 Recharge.

FYI - If the runflat tyres lose pressure they can be driven at a speed of up to 80kmph for a maximum of 80km (low load) or 30km (heavy passenger/luggage load)

There’s the usual list of corporate friendly white, grey, silver and black colour options to choose from but the EQA looks best in Mercedes’ MANUFAKTUR colours - Patagonia Red or Mountain Grey Magno. There’s also Spectral Blue that probably complements the green number plate the EQA will wear, best.

Interior

Given the EQA isn’t a born EV it should come as no surprise that its cabin looks and feels the same as the GLA. By that, we mean it’s a luxurious place to be with well-appointed materials and rich quality trim at all touch-points, save for the piano-black panel of the touch-sensitive steering-controls which, while intuitive to use, just don’t feel as premium as damped buttons would have.

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In the driver’s seat, you’re welcomed by turbine-styled AC vents finished in rose gold, a flat-bottomed steering wheel that feels great to grip and on the passenger’s side, a star-patterned ambient light panel that works in conjunction with light strips piped into the AC vents, doors and footwell to make driving the EQA a very different experience at night. Light art was first applied in the S-Class and we’re glad to see it integrated intelligently in Mercedes’ smaller cars as well.

FYI - The EQA has 64 colours of ambient lighting that can be used in single-tone or multi-colour patterns

That being said, there’s one distinct difference you notice vs the GLA SUV that this car is based on. While there’s enough knee room and legroom for someone up to 6ft tall to sit behind their own driving position, the big battery pack raises the floor a noticeable amount.

While this can make getting in and out of the car a little bit more convenient, you do sit in a ‘knees-up’ position. While someone up to 6ft tall would have adequate underthigh support in the rear seat of the GLA, that’s not the case in the EQA even for someone shorter than that. Simply put, if it’s just you and your driver, you can push the front passenger’s seat ahead for more comfort; otherwise it’s a sub-par rear seat experience especially for this price.

You do get a rear armrest with flip-out cup holders in the rear seat (missing in the GLA) and there are a total of five 18W type-C USB charge ports in the cabin including two at the rear.

Boot Space

The EQA has a wide but shallow 340-litre boot (about 85 litres less than the petrol version) and this is with no spare tyre (it gets a tyre repair kit only). 

You’re better off using cabin-sized trolley bags to pack your luggage, of which the EQA will happily accommodate four, rather than trying to cram in more than one full-sized suitcase. You can also fold down the rear seat in a 40:20:40 ratio or entirely should you need to carry more luggage. 

Features 

Feature

Notes

10.25” Touchscreen 

  • Supports wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Great resolution and response times, and besides touch-operation, the driver can also use the steering-mounted controls to browse through menus and operate it. 

  • This screen also works with gesture controls, separate for the driver and front passenger. A two finger ‘V’-point at the screen can open up preset menus, such as seat settings or the ambient light menu

  • Well executed ‘augmented reality’ integration in the in-built navigation helps immensely.

710W 12-speaker Burmester Audio System

Excellent sound quality, especially with high quality lossless music. 

10.25” Instrument Cluster

Gets multiple views (Classic, Sport, Navigation) and can display navigation as well. A great trickle down from bigger and more expensive Mercedes cars

Colour Heads Up Display

Functions as intended. Brightness and position can be adjusted and even stored in memory along with seat settings. 

360° Camera

Good quality, lag free feed. Display on screen could’ve been larger. 

Other feature highlights include a powered tailgate with hands-free (kick-sensor) operation, keyless entry, push-button start stop, cruise control, powered front seats with memory, wireless charging, dual-zone climate control with rear AC vents, and a split panoramic sunroof (front portion opens, rear portion is fixed with an openable sunblind). 

All the must haves are covered, but the absence of front seat ventilation seems odd. What you do get are seat kinetics, that move the front seats periodically so you aren’t idle in the same position for too long.

Safety

Safety equipment includes the staple of seven airbags, ABS with EBD, and electronic stability control. The EQA features a front camera and rear radars which enable a few ADAS features such as blind spot monitoring (warnings in the mirror while driving, works with the ambient lighting system to warn you while exiting the car, if needed), and auto emergency braking (with early, medium and late brake settings).

As is the case with most Mercedes vehicles, emergency braking can be a bit too sensitive for our often unpredictable driving conditions. Other autonomous features such as adaptive cruise control or any lane assist or departure warning functions are not offered.

Performance

For India, the EQA is sold in only one version - the EQA 250+. There’s a large 70.5kWh battery pack, paired with a 190PS/380Nm motor that powers the front wheels only. As per the WLTP test cycle, the EQA 250+ manages a range of around 560km which will translate to over 400km in the real-world easily (depending on your driving conditions and driving style).

The EQA is an easy going electric car to drive, delivering performance effortlessly but even in Sport mode, never to the level where you’d find it jaw-dropping (like in the Kia EV6 or BYD Seal). With a 0-100kmph time of 8.6 seconds it’s quick enough but a good deal short of the similarly priced Kia EV6 AWD that does it in 5.2 seconds.

There are three pre-configured drive modes: Eco, Comfort and Sport, along with Individual. 

Eco works well for city use but on the open road, you’re better off in Comfort or Sport for the better responsiveness.

You can alter the level of brake energy regeneration (3 levels) using the steering-mounted paddle shifters. There’s an ‘intelligent recuperation’ mode too that alters the level automatically based on your speed and the proximity to traffic ahead, though, it’s not ideal to use in our traffic conditions especially on the highway. However, while you can get down to a crawl in the strongest regen mode, there is no single-pedal mode i.e. you have to use the brake to get down to a dead stop.

FYI: Top speed is limited to 160kmph

  • The EQA can be charged with a 11kW charger from 0-100% in 7 hours 15 minutes. 

  • A 10-80% charge at a 100kW charger will take just over half an hour. 

  • Using even the more expensive public fast chargers should set you back by around Rs 2000 for a 0-100% charge (including GST) while home charging will be significantly cheaper. 

Ride and Handling

The EQA’s ride quality is comfortable and you won’t have a reason to complain over smooth tarmac roads. Bump absorption is good at low speeds over smaller potholes or rutted roads and the suspension doesn’t feel too stiff. Sharper bumps will be felt inside the cabin and you do need to be careful over broken surfaces but even with a full passenger load, the EQA manages most unexpected surprises the roads may throw up at you on a weekend trip.

That being said, you do need to think of it as a sedan with the benefit of more ground clearance than an SUV built to take on challenging terrain. And as a reminder, this is a 2WD vehicle, unlike the Kia EV6 AWD, BMW iX1 or Volvo’s Recharge twins (XC40/C40), that are offered with all-wheel drive, either as an option or as standard. So if you have mucky roads leading up to your farmhouse, best be careful.

Verdict

The Mercedes-Benz EQA is a straightforward luxury electric car that’s suitable for young families, preferably for owners who like to drive themselves. Its looks, performance and mannerisms make it a good option for someone who wants the experience of shifting to electric to be simple and not seismic.

At Rs 66 lakh (ex-showroom), the EQA is around Rs 14 lakh more expensive than the GLA petrol and Rs 8-10 lakh more than the GLA diesel. While the operational costs of the EQA will be much lower, rationalizing that price gap is a function of your own usage and how heavy it’ll be. The EQA comes with an 8 year/1,60,000km warranty and Mercedes-Benz also offers an assured 67% value buyback (at the end of the 4th year) to sweeten the deal.

Mercedes-Benz EQA
Mercedes-Benz EQA
Rs. 66.00 Lakh
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