When it comes to electric cars, the world is watching, so when Mercedes pushes forward with their EV roll-out it’s all eyes on and they’ve delivered once again with the smaller SUV in their EQ range, the Mercedes EQA now available in Australia.
Mercedes-Benz’ first electric car the EQC was an absolute winner. The ride and handling you’d expect from a Mercedes, the fit and finish as well – but with the future leading powertrain to challenge the car market going forward. We loved it.
A year and a half later, and it’s time to downsize and try out the smaller Mercedes EQA as it hits the market here in Australia.
This is a bit more my size, but we have to address the elephant in the room – the price differential between going electric, and just buying a new Mercedes. This is a $76,000 car. A little less than $20,000 more than the GLA, roughly $15k more than the larger GLB.
So, on pure value, it is a hard sell. But – so is ANY electric car. Right now buying an MG EV is a massive premium, as is Hyundai, Audi, Mazda, you name it. Heck, the best way I can explain the actual VALUE that comes from the Mercedes EQA is to say that the KIA Niro EV which is a hatch-like design as well, is only $10,000 less than this. Let’s face it, if you can pull together the repayments on the extra $10k, you’d take the Benz every day of the week.
And that’s where I sit on this. I’d prefer to pay a premium for the Mercedes EV at this stage, over every single other one below it in price. Including the Telsla Model 3.
After just a few days driving the Mercedes EQA I knew it was a great car, not just a great EV.
But, there are some things that were a touch strange. When I picked the car up, I drove out of the parking spot, and immediately stopped. I thought I’d dragged something with me, was it still plugged in when I drove off? Nope.
I kept going, ended up pulling into a Servo for a snack, heard this strange sound again from the boot, so I moved all the charging cable bags from the boot to the front seat.
Nope, that’s not it.
Turns out, it’s the reversing camera. Because it’s hidden under the Mercedes Logo, that mechanically pushes out and reveals the camera – but hell, it’s loud and clunky. The most un-Mercedes thing I’ve seen and heard.
But – you get used to it.
We’re looking at over 400km range on this bad boy, and that’s way more than 99% of buyers will need.
Charging time on an empty battery would be well over a day on a power point, but is within the hour on a 100Kw charger. The point being, it’s stupid to ask how long it takes to charge. When you own an EV, you plug it in every day when you get home. And every day the car is at or near full for your next day, and that’s on trickle charging. If your daily commute is longer than say an 80km round trip, install a faster wall-box and you’ll still replenish while you sleep.
On the open road, it’s a dream run in the Mercedes EQA, the radar cruise control, lane keep and other advanced Mercedes Driver aids are first class, as they are on any Merc.
When you veer off for some twisty bits, an enjoyable throw into the corners. Heavy thanks to the battery, but still easy to do, but also planted thanks to that same battery’s effect on the center of gravity.
Most importantly though, around town it’s a quiet ride, a staggeringly easy drive, and thanks to it’s size, the array of cameras and the brilliant infotainment screen it’s a breeze to park too.
As an EV owner you’ll start to want to eek the most from the battery, even without the anxiety it becomes a game. So the multiple Mercedes EQA drive modes help a lot with that.
Using the paddle shifters you can flick between regeneration modes. D Auto is the intelligent system that uses the data the car knows about your driving and the surrounding situation to enhance regeneration.
Then down through the four or five modes you get to D– which is almost a single pedal driving experience. For around town this is your optimal drive mode, but it takes a long time to get used to. In your current car when you take your foot off the accelerator, you don’t feel much. On D– mode it’s like you hit the brakes with some force.
Not dissimilar to Nissan’s e-Pedal one pedal driving, but in this case it won’t bring you to a complete stop. Mercedes say that final stop uses more power than it gets back, so you’re actually better of using the brakes to stop at the lights. It’s minute, but important.
I really enjoyed that mode after I trained my brain to ease off the pedal not come right off the pedal.
The MBUX system grows on me more and more as I drive the latest Mercedes cars, and the navigation with Augmented reality is a step ahead of almost any other system. Just seeing street numbers overlaid against houses on a real-time camera blows my mind every single time.
For me, the biggest take-away from my time in this car was the fit, finish and overall qualilty.
When you spend this much money on a car this size, you’re probably buying European. So you don’t want something that lacks the quality materials, craftmanship and attention to detail you’ll get in a petrol or diesel car of this price.
For those dipping their toe into the EV market, this also presents a chance to transition simply, without a huge adjustment. The Mercedes EQA does just that. For the driver it’s almost identical to a traditional car, your controls on the wheel, the screen – they are all the same.
Mercedes has done it again with the Mercedes EQA – fully electric motoring without a dip in ride, handling or quality.
If you can justify the price, you’re on a winner.