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The moral Mercedes: We drive the German brand’s new £40k electric EQA

Maybe it lost something in translation, but my first attempt at a voice command with Mercedes-Benz’s smallest electric car – the new compact crossover EQA – seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Half in jest I thought: ‘I’ll try it in a German accent.’

After all, I was driving an early left-hand drive version straight out of Mercedes-Benz’s home city of Stuttgart in South West Germany, close to where I once lived in the Black Forest.

And hey presto! It worked. My teuronic ‘Hey, Mercedes!’ request for the car to programme my desired sat-nav destination was accepted second time around, as the Alexa-style voice command replied back to me – in perfect English.

In fact the system is set up to understand ‘British English’, the mangled American version of our fine language, German and Chinese – among others. It will even, Mercedes bosses insist, understand the local rival Baden and Swabian accents which most Germans find impenetrable.

And once it had atuned itself to my voice, it worked perfectly.

Moral Mercedes: We’ve had our first experience driving the German brand’s smallest electric SUV – the EQA – on UK roads

Although the new Mercedes-Benz EQA is described as a compact crossover, it actually feels surprisingly big and spacious and more of an sports utility vehicle, both inside and out, with a high-riding driving position and good visibility.

Based on the underpininings of the fossil-fueled Mercedes-Benz GLA, the EQA is the third zero-emissions electric vehicle in Benz’s new all-electric EQ brand line up – following in the wake of the EQC large SUV and the EQV ‘people carrier’, with the EQB compact SUV and EQS saloon models set to follow.

Although the new Mercedes-Benz EQA is described as a compact crossover, it actually feels surprisingly big and spacious

Although the new Mercedes-Benz EQA is described as a compact crossover, it actually feels surprisingly big and spacious

The EQA 250’s 190 horsepower single electric motor gives it enough oomph to accelerate briskly from rest to 62mph in 8.9 seconds, though its instant break out of the blocks makes it feel significantly quicker than that

The EQA 250’s 190 horsepower single electric motor gives it enough oomph to accelerate briskly from rest to 62mph in 8.9 seconds, though its instant break out of the blocks makes it feel significantly quicker than that

A full charge on an 11kW domestic wall-box charger takes five hours and 45 minutes. On a 100kW rapid charger the EQA can recharge up to 80% in around 30 minutes

A full charge on an 11kW domestic wall-box charger takes five hours and 45 minutes. On a 100kW rapid charger the EQA can recharge up to 80% in around 30 minutes

The elegant EQA is certainly a very stylish, eye-catching upmarket family runaround that caused lots of heads to turn as I road-tested it around the leafy lanes and major roads of Surrey – a sure-fire UK heartland home for it. It has a very distinctive face and with the lights on there’s a line of light across stretching the width of the car, front and back.

It is instantly familiar with a conventionally ‘start’ button and a column-mounted gear lever.

From the off, it’s a very sprightly drive with a specially tuned soundtrack that sounds like a refined jet-airliner turbine warming up for take-off.

It is on sale now priced from £40,495 – after deduction of the the tax-payer-funded £3,000 plug-in car grant – for the decently kitted-out EQA 250 Sport. 

The car is particularly clever: It uses a thermal management system so that waste heat from the battery is sent to the cabin, saving vital energy which in turn can be used to boost range

The car is particularly clever: It uses a thermal management system so that waste heat from the battery is sent to the cabin, saving vital energy which in turn can be used to boost range

Mercedes says a fully-charged battery will be good enough for a driving range of 260 miles - though this is based on official figures and should be taken with a pinch of salt

Mercedes says a fully-charged battery will be good enough for a driving range of 260 miles – though this is based on official figures and should be taken with a pinch of salt

With the batteries bolstered, top speed is capped at 99mph, which is ample for general use and well over the UK speed limit anyway

With the batteries bolstered, top speed is capped at 99mph, which is ample for general use and well over the UK speed limit anyway

However, I was driving the higher specced EQA 250 AMG Line which adds even more kit and is priced from £41,495 (after deducting £3,000 plug-in car grant). And even this can be further enhanced (as mine was) with two additional packages adding either £3,000 or a hefty £6,000 to the final price.

The EQA 250’s 190 horsepower single electric motor gives it enough oomph to accelerate briskly from rest to 62mph in 8.9 seconds, though its instant break out of the blocks makes it feel significantly quicker than that. 

Will it fit in my garage? Mercedes-Benz EQA 

Model driven: EQA 250 AMG Line

Price of model tested: £41,495 (after deducting £3,000 plug in car grant)

(Price of range: from £40,495 for EQA 250 Sport – after deducting £3k plug in car grant)

Length: 4,463mm

Width: 2,020mm

Height: 1,620mm

Kerb weight: 2,040kg

Gross weight: 2,470kg

Power: 190hp

Battery: 66.5kWh lithium ion

0 to 62mph: 8.9 seconds

Top speed: 99mph

On board charger: 11kW (AC), 100kW (DC)

Charging time

100% (via 11kW wallbox): 5 hours 45 minutes

80% (via rapid-charger): 30 minutes

Range: up to 263 miles

Turning circle: 11.4m

Battery warranty: 8 years/100,000 miles

Boot capacity: 340 litres

With rear sears folded down: 1,320 litres 

It’s like quicksilver around town, nippy on country lanes, and holds its own on motorways and dual carriageways.

Initially I found the Comfort setting more than enough for rapid acceleration, with the Sport option potentially too much, though I suspect sustained driving over a longer period might have seen that settle down.

Top speed is capped at 99mph, which ample for general use and well over the UK speed limit anyway.

You can tune the level of regenerative braking resistance (to help recharge the battery) in a range of four modes that go from one-pedal driving (where if you get into the rhythm you rarely have to hit the brakes), to the lightest touch for free-flow coasting.

The EQA 250’s 66.5kWh battery gives it a decent range of 263 miles — on a par with Volkswagen’s ID.3 hatchback and Volvo’s XC40 P8 Recharge.

More variants of the EQA are to follow, including a more powerful all-wheel-drive twin-motor version, and a variant offering a longer range of up to 310 miles (500km) – sufficient to drive from London to Newcastle on a full charge.

A full charge on an 11kW domestic wall-box charger takes five hours and 45 minutes. On a 100kW rapid charger the EQA can recharge up to 80 per cent in around 30 minutes.

On my first outing I was disconcerted when, putting the car into reverse, I was met by a rather loud mechanical clunk. At first I thought it was something connected to the gear shift.

I even asked Mercedes-Benz if it was supposed to happen. It was a fellow scrive who cracked the issue. It was the sound of a rear camera – secreted in the rear three-pointed star badge on the boot – popping out to give me a view behind while reversing. Clever. But I’d work on smoothing out that disconcerting clunk, Mercedes-Benz. Not quite ‘on brand’.

Mercedes-Benz said its focus is on making its batteries and battery-powered cars more energy efficient. 

For example, its clever thermal management system uses waste heat from the battery to heat the cabin, saving vital energy which in turn can be used to boost range.

Owners have three years’ subscription to the ‘Mercedes me Charge’ system covering public charging points. 

It’s now up to the Government to boost the infrastructure so there are plenty of destinations to plug the EQA – and every other new car hitting the market – into.  

Daily Mail motoring editor Ray Massey was among the first people to get to try the EQA

Daily Mail motoring editor Ray Massey was among the first people to get to try the EQA

Ray said he was impressed with his conversation with Mercedes' voice activation system, even if it did struggle to acknowledge his accent

Ray said he was impressed with his conversation with Mercedes’ voice activation system, even if it did struggle to acknowledge his accent

Despite the car's footprint being laden with batteries, the boot provides 340 litres of luggage space

Despite the car’s footprint being laden with batteries, the boot provides 340 litres of luggage space 

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