Review: 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA 250 – The XC40 EV is objectively better, but not as likeable
Shaun · May 10, 2022 12:48 PM
Feels natural to drive
Tough to achieve claimed range
Loses to the XC40 EV on paper
Have you ever met someone who you almost immediately took a liking to but as time passes, you realise a few disagreeable traits about that person and slowly, you become more distant? That’s good first impression, but only that.
It’s important not to be swayed by first impressions, especially when it comes to car buying because if you’ve found a thing or two that you dislike during ownership, you’ll have to live with it.
Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to the Mercedes-Benz EQA but the same can’t be said about its closest rival at the moment, the Volvo XC40 Recharge EV.
Exterior – Light strips add wow factor
Before we get into that, let’s take a brief walkthrough of the Mercedes-Benz EQA’s exterior. It’s no secret that this is essentially an electric GLA with the Mercedes-EQ design philosophy imbued.
So, the EQA recognisable from the GLA through the “Black Panel” covered front grille with central star, and the striking light strips on the front and rear. Personally, I think this treatment makes the EQA better looking than the GLA.
The reworked rear end with the light strip somehow disguises the hunchback look of the GLA, and shows off its well-proportioned exterior. Don’t agree with the proportions? Look at the recently-unveiled Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV, it’s an EQA at 150 percent scale.
Our Malaysian-spec EQA wears the more aggressive AMG Line outfit, which I believe is the right choice because it looks way more aesthetically pleasing than the Progressive trim seen in overseas markets.
I’m also a fan of the Rosé Gold exterior colour on this test unit. For one, it’s a conversation starter that can turn into an argument as some may insist it’s copper. But mostly because it’s unique to the EQA and makes it feel a little more special.
Interior – Virtually identical to the GLA
Unlike the exterior, the EQA’s interior is nearly indistinguishable from the GLA in our market. The only clues are the red stitches on the dashboard, a cut-out on the dashboard for the head-up display, buttons for the heated seats at the front, and dual-zone air-conditioning with rear air vents.
But by and large, they have the same interior, which is not a bad thing in my book. It’s pleasing to look at, airy, and incredibly easy to get in and out of.
The EQA doesn’t get the touch-sensitive buttons that are in the most recent Mercedes models like the W206 C-Class and W223 S-Class, and it’s all the better for it. Driving the EQA after those models made me appreciate physical buttons and scrollers even more.
There’s no trying to finesse around the slider when attempting to adjust the volume or frustrating swipes in unintended directions, just good old fashioned, effective, accurate – physical clicks.
The point is that while the buttons may start to look outdated next to the newer Mercedes models, the ‘outdated’ way is still very much preferred.
Driving Experience – One of the most natural-feeling EVs
While I would like to say there’s no learning curve to driving the EQA, it’s only applicable if you’re familiar with the Mercedes-Benz way of doing things, i.e., using the column-mounted gearshift stalk, parking brake on the dashboard, or even the seat adjustment buttons on the door.
But even if you’re not familiar, it’s still incredibly natural and easy to drive. Get in, push the start/stop button like you would in any other modern car, flick the gear stalk to drive, and off you go in silence.
Acceleration is smooth and linear, and when you lift off the accelerator pedal completely, it decelerates at a predictable rate, almost like in a regular combustion-engine car. Hence, natural. It’s not particularly quick by EV standards though.
The Volvo XC40 EV on the other hand, is frighteningly quick but feels almost alien at first in comparison. It does without the stop/start button and one-pedal driving is activated by default.
For those who are experiencing EVs for the first time, the one-pedal driving mode can feel quite jarring at first as it requires excellent pedal modulation.
The EQA doesn’t have a one-pedal driving mode. However, you’re able to decide on the regenerative braking level via the paddles and in its most aggressive setting, it’s the closest to one-pedal drive without being able to come to a complete stop.
Speaking of stopping, the brakes can be a little vague and inconsistent at times when trying to decelerate smoothly, though that’s par for the course for most cars with regenerative brakes.
Back to the settings for the regenerative brakes, you can select automatic mode, which will then utilise the cameras and radars to brake according to surrounding traffic, or coast if the road is empty. It’s a neat feature that’s useful on highways.
Steering is light yet accurate, and the EQA disguises its 2-tonne kerb weight quite well. It’s only when subjected to silly manoeuvres, like flicking into a corner at unreasonable speeds, that you’ll start to feel its weight and even then, the sense of stability doesn’t get threatened.
Ride Comfort – Mostly well-sorted
Like the GLA, there’s a sense of calmness in its ride quality. And based on memory, the EQA actually feels more compliant on highways as it settles into the rhythms of smaller undulations. Larger undulations however, can still cause a little too much vertical movements.
Sharp impacts can be felt, though no worse than in the GLA and the smaller run-of-the-mill lumps and bumps are filtered commendably.
The XC40 EV's ride, in comparison, is even busier on highways with its constant movements. Those who are prone to motion sickness will probably find it nauseating.
A simple test to find out the pliancy on highways would be to put your head against the headrest while driving. If your head is getting bopped excessively, it’s a busy ride. And my head was restless in the XC40 EV, not so much in the EQA.
As for the seats, it’s identical to the GLA, which is firm and average in terms of back support. Thigh support however, is rather decent with its extendable seat base. Admittedly, the XC40 EV’s seats are more supportive.
It’s worth noting that at the rear, the floor is raised due to the battery pack and comprises the seating position. The effect is almost like being in the third-row seat in some cars, perhaps not to that extent but you get the picture.
Noise wise, it’s fairly quiet as expected from an EV. At low speeds, our sound level meter averaged about one to two decibels lower than the GLA but as the speed climbs, noise levels become similar as tyre noise begin to permeate the cabin.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA - Cabin Noise Test
Idle, A/C on
Charging and Efficiency
The Mercedes-Benz EQA uses a CCS Combo 2 charging port located on the rear quarter panel on driver side. Most charging stations here are utilising CCS 2 as well, so there’s no need for additional adapters.
The trip computer indicated an average of 20.5 kWh/100 km over a 131.8 km journey with an average speed of 35 km/h. However, our calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 22.2 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive full charges (like how we perform fuel consumption tests).
To put the numbers into perspective, the Hyundai Kona Electric averages around 12 kWh/100 km and the Nissan Leaf achieves around 14 kWh/100 km. Granted, the EQA is heavier than the two but it’s still quite a large disparity.
If we were to calculate the real-world range based on the test, the EQA would only achieve about 300 km on a full charge from its 66.5-kWh of usable battery capacity.
On paper, it’s tough to build a convincing argument for the Mercedes-Benz EQA against the Volvo XC40 Recharge EV. The EQA is more expensive, slower, and less practical (XC40 EV has a front trunk). But here’s where the beauty of subjectivity comes into play, because how a car feels can’t be expressed on paper.
The Mercedes-Benz EQA is like an old friend (in this case, friend refers to the GLA) who decided to become a vegan with better sense of fashion. Everything else, however, is unchanged. It’s still the same friend you’re familiar and comfortable with.
Meanwhile, the Volvo XC40 EV is like an old friend who became vegan, got ripped, and picked up a few weird habits. It gives a strong first impression but once the weird habit starts to annoy, it becomes off-putting. You want to like this friend but the chemistry just isn’t there.
Then again, it’s like I said, subjective and not everyone will share the same feeling. So do try them both for yourself and don’t let first impressions deceive, the thrill of violent acceleration and thumping sound system wears off eventually. Poor ride quality, though, gets on your nerves over time, and that will leave a lasting impression.
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.