Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 review: alternate current
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- NZ’s cheapest premium BEV
- Like a (slightly) miniature EQC
- Smartphone app interaction
- Teasingly close to the $80k rebate ceiling
- Performance leaves room for faster models
- Common BEV/global supply issues
EQC is now joined by EQA. The Mercedes-Benz electric range has just expanded with the slightly smaller but still quite large EQA 250 SUV, that brings luxury pure-electric Merc motoring down to $85,500.
The new entry level EQA 250 arrives right after the Government’s Clean Car Programme. Except the EQA is over the $80k cap, so doesn’t qualify. We asked the obvious question, and the response was, loosely: “We are aware of that threshold and we are pushing specifications and equipment levels for Mercedes customers”.
However, supply could be an issue before end of 2021. Mercedes won’t comment on actual numbers, however there is a supply here now, and more due, so even though 46 $145,700k EQCs have been sold this year (notably with an order bank), with the appeal of the sharper price of the EQA is bound to surpass that, with 27 already sold by the end of June.
It should, because the appealing factors are many: as the second wave of an EQ launch (the EQS and EQB will be here next year) the EQA is targeted at urban owners, with a WLTP range of 408km from its 66.5kW battery. Unlike the EQC 4Matic, the EQA is front-wheel drive only, with a single motor and gear ratio, producing 140kW and 375Nm.
The technology is also about managing the components, with a double-deck 420 volt Lithium Ion battery using its own heating and cooling to keep the battery at its optimum temperature, the key for maximum range, consistency and charging.
There’s also a heat pump to channel waste heat from the EV powertrain to heat the cabin; plus auxiliary tweaks like high recommended tyre pressures (around 45psi+) for the 19-inch (20-in optional) wheels and a slippery 0.28Cd body.
Dimensionally shorter, narrower and lower than the EQC - albeit slightly in every measure - the EQA is still spacious inside and out, sitting on the same wheelbase as a GLA and offering similar luggage space, at 340 litres.
It’s also similarly loaded with the latest Mercedes tech, such as a rear badge that pops out for the reversing camera (ala Golf), foot gesture power tailgate, memory and heated seats, MBUX configurable widescreen dash with voice control and wireless CarPlay and a 40/20/40 rear seat to maximise the cargo space.
Underneath, adaptive damping on steel coil springs is standard (an option is some markets), and a point of difference as the EQC was fitted with rear air-bag suspension.
Shift paddles, like most EVs, adjust the regen rate from almost free-coasting to one-pedal driving, bringing the EQA down to almost a standstill; which the radar cruise control also does very effectively along with stop-start.
In auto D mode, radar-based recoup will maximise its regen according to terrain, so on a steep downhill, it will recognise the road – and nearby traffic - and offer maximum recharging.
Speaking of regen, using a Type 2 CCS charging plug, the EQA will charge up to 11kW on AC with both a charger and a separate cable supplied; and accept up to 100kW on public DC chargers, allowing charging speed as quick as 30 mins to take the battery from 10 to 80 percent.
The Mercedes Me smartphone app also allows great interactivity for charging, location, door locking and climate control pre-conditioning for those chilly winter mornings.
Option packs include an AMG Sportline with 20-inch wheels and black panel grille, or specific options such as cooled seats, sunroof, 360 degree camera or augmented reality navigation on the MBUX.
A special $7300 Edition 1 pack offers a host of bespoke gear like a unique key, grey leather with blue accenting, 20-inch wheels with copper rose gold finish, priced at $92,800.
So, importantly, how’s it drive? Like all EVs, smooth and quiet, but unlike some EVs, not that rapid. Mercedes claims 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds, which is on the slower side, and quite a chasm to the 5.1 seconds of the EQC, given the EQA is also 500kg lighter (at 1965kg). It doesn’t feel slow, just slower than we’ve come to expect. It’s slower than either the MG ZS or Kia Niro EVs, for comparison.
With new models due later this year including the EQA 350 4Matic, and 215kW/520Nm AMG Line, it’s the first step of the EQA range leaving plenty of room for improvement.
The reality is that supply of EQA has been pretty good with Mercedes NZ selling everything it can currently get its hands on and hoping to secure even more. And like many luxury models, very few cars are sold as a non-optional base-spec. It’s also the least expensive premium luxury EV on sale in NZ.
And keeping in mind GST and on-road costs, it's realistically a bit further away from that rebate carrot, anyway.
MERCEDES-BENZ EQA 250
ENGINE: 65.5kWh Battery Electric Vehicle, single motor
0-100KM/H: 8.9 secs (claim)
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, FWD
RANGE: 410km (WLTP)