What is it?
The EQA marks the moment another legacy car maker moves its electric car roll-out into a higher gear. Astonishingly, it’s a compact crossover, and one that will act as the crucial entry-level EV for Mercedes – a zero-emission, three-pointed hook for those who can’t stretch to the £65,000 Mercedes-Benz EQC SUV, and one designed to challenge the Volkswagen ID 3 and upcoming Tesla Model Y.
Following the EQC and the EQV, the EQA is the third pure EV in Mercedes’ EQ sub-brand, with the S-Class-flavoured EQS soon to become the fourth. However, whereas the larger EQS will sit on its own truly EV-specific architecture, the EQA uses an adapted GLA platform. It's much like the GLC-based EQC in this respect, and the same applies to the aesthetics – the EQA is very closely related to the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
Clearly, the aim has been to keep development costs in check and the asking price as competitive as possible, and to give prospective customers something that feels reassuringly familiar.
So what exactly is an EQA, beyond the connection to its ICE-equipped GLA cousin? For the EQA 250 tested here, the driveline consists of an asynchronous 187bhp electric motor mounted between the front wheels and a 66.5kWh lithium ion battery pack that sits between the axles and forms a structural part of the chassis. The body-in-white is mostly to GLA specification, although the subframes have been modified to reduce road roar that would otherwise be thrown into unpleasant relief by the quietness of the powertrain.
The basic suspension design – MacPherson struts up front with a multi-link rear – is also carried over from the GLA, and although it’s centred on comfort, the passive spring and damper rates have been increased on account of the battery. At 480kg, it alone weighs as much as an entire Caterham Seven and takes the EQA’s kerb weight to 2040kg.
Cars in Premium Plus specification, such as this one, then come equipped with two-mode adaptive suspension and 20in wheels, although owing to its winter tyres, this German-spec car rides on the standard 18in wheels. Range on the WLTP cycle is 263 miles. The similarly sized but £6000 less expensive Kia e-Niro claws 282 miles from its 64kWh battery, while the Model Y is expected to manage more than 300 miles and the top-ranking ID 3 Tour is claimed to deliver 336 miles, courtesy of its generous 77kWh capacity.
Mercedes says more EQA variants with greater driving range are on stream but gives no figures. Some of those derivatives will also gain an additional, potent electric motor on the rear axle – one that might, says Mercedes, even be favoured over its partner at the front when it comes to propulsive duties. It leaves the door open for something fruity at the top of the range. An AMG EQA, perhaps.