Mercedes-Benz EQA first drive review: How good is Merc’s most affordable EV?

Mercedes-Benz’s most affordable electric car is here, based on the GLA with a big battery and plenty of range
The EQA is based on the GLA.
The EQA is based on the GLA.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

The Mercedes-Benz EQA is an important car. It is going to be Merc’s smallest EV in India, and consequently its most affordable EV in the country. Sitting well under a crore of rupees, it is going to go up against some traditional luxury rivals like the Volvo XC40 Recharge and BMW iX1, and also some unconventional ones like the Kia EV6. Mercedes hasn’t had the same success as BMW with their luxury BEVs, but attacking a lower price point might bolster their sales and a lot .

Let me state the obvious — the EQA is based on the GLA. There’s clear indications of the GLA’s underpinnings not only in the dimensions, but also in how it looks. This is no EQE-GLE relationship. You get different styling and interiors, but the big changes is obviously the drivetrain.  Going electric has had some benefits, but has also brought in some compromises. We dig a little deeper.

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQA styling

Up front, you have the new grille with the EQ face. The solid grille is decorated with a whole lot of three-pointed star elements and looks pretty neat. You also get a light bar and standard LED headlamps. This EQA doesn’t get the AMG Line kit, but what it does get is lighter, aero-optimised AMG wheels. The wheelbase remains the same as the GLA, hinting at the close link between them. At the rear, you get revised taillights with another light bar. Overall, the EQA looks consistent with the rest of the electric family from Mercedes, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say its my favourite looking of all the Merc EVs yet. The EQ face sits better with this compact car, and since not too much has been rounded off from the standard GLA, it does have a good stance to it.

EQA gets lighter, aero-optimised AMG wheels.
EQA gets lighter, aero-optimised AMG wheels.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQA interior and features

The interior architecture is very similar to the GLA — you have a dash that features the twin 10.25-inch screens up front, and an identical layout to the centre console. The EV separates itself from the ICE car with rose gold accents on the turbine-style aircon vents and seat fabric that is made out of recycled pet bottles. Another change from the standard car is the AMG-style twin-spoke steering wheel with touchpads on it. The star trim on the dash is actually backlit, though we couldn’t see much of it as we were driving the cars in the day.

Equipment wise, the EQA is very well loaded. You get memory seats with lumbar support for both driver and passenger, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera, a large panoramic sunroof and augmented reality projection for navigation. However, my favourite bit was the Burmester sound system — 710W, 12 speakers — and sounded phenomenal. To demonstrate how good it was, Mercedes-Benz even gave us pendrives with high quality songs on it. Brilliant.

EQA has twin 10.25-inch screens up front.
EQA has twin 10.25-inch screens up front.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

Much like the GLA, the quality and finish of the interior stands out. Every touch point feels high quality — these entry level luxury offerings are often bought by first time luxury car owners and the EQA certainly makes a lasting impression.

Things are not so nice in the backseat. While knee room and headroom are adequate, the floor has been raised to accommodate the batteries and this leads to a fairly uncomfortable seating position. It forces your knees up high and leaves the underneath of your thighs unsupported. You can’t even tuck your feet underneath the seat in front of you to try and remedy this a little bit. The backrest doesn’t recline either and you’re left with a rather uncomfortable backseat. Passengers spending too long in the back won’t be too happy, that’s for sure. Another compromise of the batteries is the smaller boot. The GLA gets a 425-litre boot but the EQA only manages a 340-litre boot space. There’s no frunk to make up for it up front either.

While knee room and headroom are adequate, the floor has been raised to accommodate the batteries and this leads to a fairly uncomfortable seating position.
While knee room and headroom are adequate, the floor has been raised to accommodate the batteries and this leads to a fairly uncomfortable seating position.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQA drivetrain

Let’s talk specs first. The EQA is only available in India in one fully loaded variant, the 250+, where the plus stands for the large battery and consequently long range. There’s a 70.5kWh battery under the floor which powers a single motor on the front axle that puts out 187bhp and 385Nm. The big battery and moderate outputs allow for a WLTP range of 560km, though in the real world that is closer to 450km and obviously dependent on your driving habits. Nevertheless, that is an impressive amount of range in the compact package. It can also charge at up to 100kW, allowing you to top up range rather quickly.

We must talk about acceleration, because it isn’t what we’ve come to expect of EVs. EVs have democratised performance to a large degree but the conservative outputs of the EQA 250+ mean that you don’t have neck-snapping performance as a party trick to show off. Claimed 0-100kmph is a leisurely (relatively, of course) 8.6 seconds. That said, acceleration off the line and at low speeds is snappy courtesy the instant torque that the motor allows. But that punch wanes off the faster you go — a pull from 90kmph to 120kmph doesn’t feel as rapid, and it tops out at 160kmph. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing — you can’t do 160kmph legally in India anyway, and at low speeds when you need bursts of acceleration, the performance proves to be adequate. It just isn’t going to set any records.

The EQA also gets paddles to control your regen settings, allowing you to pick between normal, strong and maximum regen. I found driving it in normal or strong to be ideal. Maximum regen is rather strong and unless you’re desperate to keep the range in check, you’re better off avoiding it. The refinement of the EV drivetrain is top notch too. Being inherently silent, it transforms the character of this car significantly. There’s barely any audible whine from the motor in the cabin either. It makes for a rather serene driving experience.

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQA ride and handling

I was really worried that the EQA wouldn’t be too great to drive — I was worried the additional weight from the batteries (it now weighs over 2 tonnes!) would necessitate a stiffer suspension to keep body control in check. However, Merc has managed to do a fine job of managing that weight without ruining the ride. The EQA rides well over our roads, soaking up bumps and undulations without thudding and crashing through them. It doesn’t feel too firm for our roads, and you can actually enjoy the comfort of this luxury crossover whether on an average Indian city road or on an expressway. At speed, it stays flat and composed and that European DNA we love shines through. I was worried about ground clearance too — the older EQC was notoriously low — but that doesn’t seem to be an issue here.

We didn’t get to chuck the car around too much in the corners, so I’m going to reserve my opinions on handling for a later date. That said, you can feel the weight with aggressive lane changes with the sheer inertia of this car coming in to play. Another place you realise how heavy this car is, is on the brakes. The brakes lack consistency and feel, and you really need to stand on them firmly to get the car to slow down. This can get unnerving at time, especially on Indian roads where things are so unpredictable. The switchover from the regen to mechanical brakes isn’t as seamless as it can be, and other manufactures like Audi are doing a better job on this front to make the cars controls feel more natural.

The EQA rides well over our roads, soaking up bumps and undulations without thudding and crashing through them.
The EQA rides well over our roads, soaking up bumps and undulations without thudding and crashing through them.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQA price and verdict

As of writing this piece, we didn’t have the prices of the Mercedes-Benz EQA 250+ with us. That said, it is a CBU and we expect it to be priced somewhere between Rs 65-70 lakh. It is still steep, especially considering that there are rivals that offer a lot more in terms of performance, space or both at a similar price point. However, it doesn’t compromise on the equipment front and feels special every time you get inside it. Performance may not set your heart on fire, but it is more than adequate and the long range makes up for it. Most importantly though, the three-pointed star has inherent value in it and I can see a compact, electric Merc appealing to many.

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