Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review

Published:08 February 2021

Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review
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By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

We drive a prototype Mercedes EQA
EV crossover has 266-mile range
Priced from £40,495, orderable now

The Mercedes-Benz EQA is the latest addition to the growing UK EV market, and it looks set to cause a bit of a stir thanks to its competitive pricing. Costing from £40,495 in its most basic form, it offers a lot of premium SUV-shaped EV for the money.

But is it good to drive? Hitting the starter button, flicking the column-mounted gearlever up to Reverse and checking the rear camera in the new Mercedes EQA when backing out of the parking lot is no different from the usual take-off routine in any other car.

That is, of course, except that the throttle feels a little jumpier, since all of the 277lb ft is on instinctive vigilance from the word go. Next, down snaps the lever into Drive, and we’re off on the usual evaluation loop.

According to Mercedes, the 140kW/187bhp EQA averages 15.7kWh per 62 miles. It can cover 266 miles between jabs, and there is a long-range version good for over 310 miles already waiting in the wings. The only battery size available at launch time, a 66.5kWh energy pack with a capacity of 190Ah running at up to 420 volts, feeds a solitary electric motor which drives the front wheels through a single-speed transmission.

Let’s get rolling…

The main audio source up to 20mph is the subdued pedestrian warning chime which later turns into a subdued hum. Under full throttle, the murmur swells to a discreet growl. Putting the hoof down hard in an EV is of course a sacrilege in the eyes of purists whose main goal in motoring is to beat their own longest previously recorded range. Part-time petrolheads are however bound to enjoy the horizon’s ability to suck this vehicle in with surprising vigour. Typical of the breed, the progressive urge is uninterrupted by such obsolete habits as rocky upshifts, while the almost noiseless flow puts speed into positive perspective to bystanders, uniformed or not. The Game Over threshold arrives rather early at 100mph plus a 3mph bonus.

eqa proto tracking

It’s a refined machine, that’s for sure, complete with a comfortable and cosseting ride. Does one really need the extra-cost damper adjustment? Not when the car is shod with standard-size wheels and tyres, but it’s a must when you opt for the eye-catching multi-piece 20-inch AMG rims.

How does the EQA’s regeneration work?

Although the EV community is still relatively small, the recuperation debate is already raging like a religion between the two factions. As a reminder, some users covet the one-pedal feel which practically deports the brakes into early retirement while others firmly believe in ideally exceptionless lift-off coasting.

Trying to please, the EQA has something to offer to everyone. It automatically takes off in D auto with the Eco Assistant looking over the driver’s shoulder. That’s okay for dawdlers and drifters, but only D+ (Mercedes speak for coasting) secures a truly involving part of the action by letting you play with inertia, mass and other physical attractions.

The next three recuperation stages trigger different levels of energy regeneration labelled mild, medium and strong. Strong in particular feels like a counter-motion programme: while creating lift-off e-power, the car quickly loses momentum, a trade-in which appears counter-productive, not clever.

What is the EQA’s tech inside like?

This rather different driving experience is in the EQA complemented by small features including the instrument lighting that turns momentarily white when boost is active, the horizontally split performance meter that replaces the revcounter, the fire-red low-range warning scenario or the four driving styles named Modern Classic, Sport, Progressive and Reduced.

eqa proto side

In addition to a full battalion of driving assistants (some standard, some optional), the EQA can be had with the Energizing Comfort Plus package, which sounds like gimmicks galore but actually boasts such friendly gestures as various massage functions, smartwatch connectivity, mood lighting, bespoke music and even a power nap feature to be relished in a parking area.

Trim levels in Europe include the racy AMG Line, the somewhat esoteric Electric Art equipment with low-drag aero wheels, and the pricey Edition 1 featuring polarising rose gold accents inside and out along with a rather ritzy cabin treatment. No, not to everyone’s taste, but more characterful than the bland ID.4, the generic iX3 or the frosty Polestar 2.

Mercedes EQA: first impressions

Comfortable, cosseting and complete, the EQA does a fine job taking the edges out of the flow. Included free of charge are 10 out of 10 points in the NVH domain, a five-star ride, faultless driveability and the classy cabin decor. Although the engineering layout is – like the EQC – derivative, the result is 100% Mercedes. It’s a fine anti-aggression tool for the better-off who appreciate trad brand values wrapped in an advanced propulsion envelope.

Specs

Price when new: £40,000
On sale in the UK: Summer 2021
Engine: 66.5kWh battery, single e-motor, 187bhp, 277lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 8.9sec 0-62mph, 99mph, 266-mile range, 0g/km
Weight / material:
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

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  • Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review
  • Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review
  • Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review
  • Mercedes EQA prototype (2021) review

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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