During a test session in the mountains, we had the opportunity to take charge of the new Mercedes SUV: the EQA 250 AMG Line. We tell you everything there is to know about it and we give you all our impressions and all our conclusions.
Essay by Alexandre Lenoir
If the Mercedes EQA shares its platform with this GLA compact thermal SUV, the Bavarian manufacturer had the good idea not to be satisfied with a simple copy and paste for the exterior design. If the clientele seems to have remained relatively indifferent to the EQC launched in 2019, this EQA seems to have more assets than its big brother to anchor the brand in the minds like an electrical manufacturer you will have to rely on. Bodes well a few months before the launch of the large EQS sedan.
Design: fake profile
The Mercedes EQA is a bit of a GLA that forgot to make up its profile to stand out. If we hide the slightly larger shields which lengthen the vehicle by 5 centimeters (for a total of 4.46 meters), the sides are indeed very similar. Viewed from the front, the difference between the two SUVs is clearer. The electric version indeed has a full grille and redesigned lightss. Depending on whether you choose an AMG Line version or prefer the Profressive Line, the bumper and grille will also differ. On our test model, two bands of chrome mark the large star in the center of the grille, while the more aggressive shields mimic the presence of diffusers. At the rear, an LED strip absent from the GLA runs through the entire tailgate and the license plate is positioned lower. As before, the skirt of the AMG Line version differs from that of the Progressive Line. In short, day and night, impossible to confuse the two first cousins.
Interior: the zero errors game
For the interior, the affiliation is even clearer since the EQA is a carbon copy of the GLA. In this AMG Line finish, the spotlight is on Dinamica (an Alcantara-type synthetic fiber) which covers part of the seats and storm doors, even at the rear. The marriage with the hard plastic of the door sills is therefore a little unnatural, one could expect more rewarding for a premium vehicle. Since we’re in the back, passengers benefit from two adjustable air vents and a single USB-C socket, which is also a bit stingy. Even more so than before, only one take is also offered. To release it with a wireless charger, you have to go through the Premium Option Pack, billed at 1400 euros and in which we also find and among other things augmented reality for navigation, heated front seats, better sound system. But unfortunately neither the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto interface is able to operate wirelessly, there may well be a battle for cable !
Up front, the MBUX interface consists of100% digital instrumentation on a 10.5-inch LCD panel whose display composition is customizable in multiple ways. Placed immediately to its right and within easy reach of the driver, the infotainment panel is the same size. Very comprehensive, it provides access to all vehicle functions and configure multiple user profiles. At the same time, the manufacturer offers three years of connected services via the “Mercedes me” smartphone application to make life easier on electric vehicles. For example, you can plan your route at home and send it to the car.
Directly under the screen, the three central aerators are reminiscent of reactor turbines by their design. The slight resistance they offer to movement makes them quite pleasant to handle. This is also the kind of detail that creates a high-end atmosphere. One floor lower, we find a keyboard of piano keys (the big fashion of the moment), with direct access temperature control buttons on each side and, in between, ventilation settings. We will thank Mercedes for realizing that it was much easier this way, rather than having to go through menus on the screen.
Finally, below, the storage compartment can also allow the famous Qi wireless charging of a smartphone, while under the hand falls shortcut keys for infotainment and a touchpad which may be your preference for on-screen navigation, just as you may prefer the two touch pads located on either side of the steering wheel that allow navigation on both screens. Do you prefer to talk? No problem either: the “Hey Mercedes” command will activate one of the best voice assistants in the automotive market. It supports many functions of the car, just as it can learn from your habits and precede your needs if you want.
Finally, the micro-perforations on the right side of the dashboard are backlit at night and add to the atmosphere. In all, the user can choose from 64 different shades.
Tech, but not too much
In terms of technology, the standard equipment of the EQA is not necessarily bloated. For example, the head-up display is only available with the Premium Plus pack (billed at 5,500 euros), in which we will find the entire Premium pack previously mentioned, electric seats at the front, a panoramic sunroof, a more complete parking aid system offering a view of the vehicle in its surroundings and a high-end sound system signed by the German audiophile brand Burmester. At this price, the MBUX also recognizes certain gestures and knows how to differentiate those of the driver from those of the passenger. It’s up to you to see if it’s useful … In any case, the brand is going against its usual here since it is not possible to detail these options. It’s all or nothing. Ditto for driving aids, with an assistance pack billed at 1,700 euros and which allows you to claim level 2 autonomous driving.
However, the lack of options doesn’t leave the buyer in a dated vehicle either. He will thus have a active parking aid, of a keyless start, of a eSIM 4G integrated for connected services, the possibility of share a virtual key for three years (on subscription afterwards), MBUX with the voice assistant and its artificial intelligence or the 3D navigation with integrated hard drive.
Electrical life in EQA
Electric driving is arguably where Mercedes has focused the most design effort. The drive mode selector – called Dynamic Select – offers four programs: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. Each of them has specificities that directly influence the operating laws of the electric machine. As you can imagine, Eco mode reduces the available torque, for example, and implements different strategies to save battery. Conversely, the Sport mode will release the watts and allow a more dynamic drive. The most impressive remains however regeneration which can operate in five stages, in particular thanks to the + and – paddles located behind the steering wheel.
When activated, the B mode (like Brake) is varied from B ++ to B–. The B ++ corresponds to a “one pedal” ride which eliminates the need to touch the brake pedal since the vehicle is able to come to a complete stop with a respectable deceleration force. Warning, that does not mean that the friction brakes are never used : they are, but generally for the last few meters of deceleration only. But the user doesn’t have to worry about it. In contrast, the B — allows freewheeling when lifting the foot. So far, nothing that has not been seen elsewhere, including at Mercedes.
The “B auto” mode on the other hand, deserves more attention. When engaged, this mode automatically adapts the regeneration power to the context in which the vehicle is placed. For this, its geographical position, the topography of the place, but also the possible presence of a vehicle in front are taken into account. So, when you release your foot from the accelerator, if a vehicle brakes ahead, the recovery strategy will be to brake the vehicle. If, on the other hand, nothing hinders the evolution, the system can then evaluate the topography, the type of road, the possible bend or roundabout that presents itself and modulate the regeneration accordingly, or leave the vehicle in freewheeling mode. .
Finally, the infographic proposed on the instrument holder unit is very fun and allows you to directly assess the slightest gain in autonomy, but also to measure what all the comfort equipment really costs or the residual electricity consumption. The efforts made on eco-driving are rewarded in the form of a perfectly explicit mileage bonus. All of this put together constitutes one of the most convincing systems on the market.
For charging at a terminal or at home, the Mercedes EQA is delivered with two four-meter cables for alternating current. The on-board charger is 11 kW, which allows to refuel in about 6 hours at full power on the battery of 66.5 kWh useful. You can also plug it into a simple 10 Amp domestic socket.. For fast direct current terminals, the EQA accepts 100 kW. A good half hour is generally enough then to go from 20% to 80% load. With the car, Mercedes is also offering a one-year subscription to the public network charging service, as well as one year to the Ionity fast charger network. (€ 99 per year thereafter) which allows you to benefit from a preferential rate of € 0.29 per minute of charging. Enough to allow the user to discover life in electricity, gauge their needs and define the charging strategy best suited to their use.
We still regret the lack of a 22 kW option which would have made it possible to take full advantage of this type of terminal, which is very present in the region, particularly in rural areas. Ditto, 100 kW for fast charging is a bit tight for considering long journeys, especially when this type of charge is therefore, in France, billed by duration and not by kWh.
At the wheel and on board
By concentrating on recharging strategies, you would almost forget that an electric car, above all, can be experienced. Behind the wheel or as a passenger, the first thing to notice is the quality of soundproofing. Of course, an electric vehicle inherently subtracts its engine noise from the equation, but road noise and air noise are also perfectly filtered. The power of 190 hp – and especially the 375 Nm of torque available immediately – of this 250 version seem quite sufficient to never run out of anything, even if the car weighs more than two tonnes on the scale, which is enormous. for a compact SUV.
The 0 to 100 km / h is shot in just under 9 seconds and the maximum speed is restricted to 160 km / h. On this two-wheel drive version, all the torque must shift to the front axle, which can sometimes have trouble keeping up if the road surface is a bit slippery. Nothing prohibitive, it is enough to dose or to prefer a driving mode adapted on the Dynamic Select. The upcoming 350 4Matic version will bring the all-wheel drive to the car that some might prefer.
As for the feeling, our test course made up largely of mountain roads allowed us to see that Mercedes has managed to offer a good level of comfort without, however, the car wallowing on its suspensions at the slightest hard braking or in corners that are a little too tight. Once you have mastered the different ways to optimize charging, you can almost forget about the brake pedal, even on the most steep descents.
The electricity consumption we recorded amounted to 17.4 kWh on average on our rather peri-urban and mountainous route. This is a very honorable result and, no doubt, more favorable conditions on the plain would have enabled us to verify that it is possible to do even better. Sure highway, on the other hand, you should not forget to plan your route well, since consumption can quickly climb to 25 kWh and more, enough to empty the batteries a little over 200 km.
It should also not be overlooked that the EQA falls under the category of compact vehicles. While it is not inconceivable to travel up to 5 people thanks to the flat floor at the rear, it will however be necessary to be satisfied witha trunk of only 340 liters. Undoubtedly too little for a fortnight’s family vacation.
Price and positioning
The version AMG Line of our trial starts at 49,900 euros and, in addition to specific shields, it brings a little more equipment compared to the Progressive Line, available from 47,900 euros. In both cases, it is over 45,000 euros and therefore does not allow to benefit from the maximum bonus. From July 1, 2021, it will therefore be necessary to count on 2,000 euros “only” in aid from the State (3,000 € before that date). The version 4 Matic which will offer all-wheel drive and more power thanks to two engines will be positioned at 59,200 euros, just below 60,000 euros, beyond which no further aid is offered.
For once, as we have seen, it is not the catalog of options that will make the bill soar to new heights since it is generally limited to two packs and the color of the paint, only the black tint being free. The real strength of the EQA is that it currently faces virtually no competition in its class. Skoda Enyaq, VW ID.4, Ford Mach-E or Aiways U5 are almost all 20 centimeters longer and therefore play in the higher category. It’s up to Mercedes to take advantage of this windfall!