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Road tests

New Mercedes EQA 2024 facelift review: upgrades fail to hide its flaws

The Mercedes EQA has been tweaked for 2024, but it remains far from the top of the electric SUV class

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

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Verdict

We’re not sure the range-topping version of the revised single-motor Mercedes EQA is the pick of the range. So while we could understand why you’d overlook the average practicality and be seduced by the nicely finished cabin and cruising refinement, a cheaper version may well have a better-resolved ride, as well as cutting thousands from the Premium Plus version’s eye-watering price. Choose carefully.

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Mercedes was right in the middle of the premium-badged pack when it came to introducing electric SUVs – so the time has already arrived for the Stuttgart brand to update one of its key zero-emissions models: the EQA.

It’s perhaps a reflection of how quickly the EV market is moving along, too, that the upgrades are actually pretty significant. Yes, there’s standard facelift fare, such as a redesigned grille, different front and rear bumpers, new alloy wheel designs and a fresh lighting signature. Inside, the EQA gets a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls (alarm bells ringing here) along with a tweaked centre console that now incorporates a storage tray. The dashboard is still dominated by a pair of 10.25-inch displays – one for infotainment, the other an instrument panel.

However, electric tech being what it is, there are some efficiency gains to report, with up to 346 miles on offer from the big-battery version – and a new range-maximisation feature within the MBUX infotainment set-up, allowing the display and air-con to be limited or turned off completely, in a bid to scrape every last mile from the battery.

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There are three different powertrains available in the EQA, along with four trim levels. Perversely, the more potent versions, the EQA 300 and EQA 350 actually have a smaller battery, compounding the effects of their dual-motor configuration. The EQA 300 has 225bhp, while the EQA 350 packs 288bhp/520Nm for a 0-62mph time of just six seconds. Their 66.5kWh battery delivers between 258 and 266 miles on a single charge.

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Today, though, we’re driving the single-motor EQA 250+, which has the 70.4kWh battery behind that headline 346-mile range figure, and 187bhp/385Nm. It needs 35 minutes to get from 10 to 80 per cent at the fastest charging speed, 100kW, whereas the smaller-battery models require 32 minutes.

There are four trim levels on offer in the EQA 250+, starting with Sport Executive at £49,750. This brings 18-inch alloys, metallic paint, LED headlights, the twin 10.25-inch displays, a reversing camera, climate control, heated front seats and ambient lighting.

Step up to AMG Line Executive (from £52,010) and you get 19-inch alloys, AMG Line styling add-ons, a sports steering wheel clad in Nappa leather, and Artico man-made leather upholstery. AMG Line Premium (from £55,010) then moves up another wheel size, to 20 inches, and adds electrically adjustable damping, augmented-reality screen-based instructions on the navigation, aluminium interior trim, and a 360-degree camera as part of an enhanced parking pack.

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We’re going the whole hog here, though, and testing the most modest of EQA powertrains in range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus trim. This gets a different design of 20-inch alloys, a head-up display, a Burmester audio system, a panoramic sunroof, memory seat adjustment, and snazzy ‘surround’ lighting, incorporating a projected three-pointed star. There’s a lot of kit here but then, there needs to be, because this version weighs in at £58,010 – and this looks a high price to pay for a small, single-motor EV, not to mention a version of it that also brings a fairly sizeable reduction in WLTP-certified range, to 314 miles.

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Even so, the EQA goes a long way to justifying your outlay as you climb aboard, for while the cabin is undeniably compact, it is beautifully finished, with high-quality materials and switches in all of the key areas. In this spec there’s electric adjustment for pretty much everything, so as the driver’s seat glides into your preferred position, you’ll be telling yourself that you have indeed bought a proper ‘baby Merc’.

Pulling away from rest is likely to provide further reassurance in this area, because even though the single motor is right there in front of you, refinement is terrific, with next to no whine to speak of. And 187bhp is just about enough instant punch for a car of this size, so even this most lowly of versions doesn’t feel slow.

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Things unravel a bit on the chassis front, though; Premium Plus brings electrically adjustable damping, but in our experience, none of the settings really delivers a satisfactory compromise. The body isn’t well enough tied down in comfort, and is inclined to feel floaty and allow a bit too much head toss in the cabin. Switching to sport tightens things up, but the rebound becomes too firm as a result, with the car finding (and reacting to) too many imperfections on the road surface.

It’s not appalling, but it’s frustrating that the wider breadth of configurations doesn’t allow a really satisfying mix of attributes. We’re keen to try a cheaper EQA to see if it’s any better on regular dampers.

The baby Mercedes isn’t designed to be the last word in practicality and it isn’t, but four adults will feel reasonably comfortable in the cabin. The boot is decidedly average, though; its capacity of 340 litres seems tight even for the smallest car in Merc’s EV line-up, and it rises to just 1,320 litres when you fold down the rear seats. There are just a couple of cheap, nasty moulded hooks in the sides of the boot too, so you’ll need to watch your knuckles if you’re hanging up your takeaway bag for the journey home.

Model:Mercedes EQA 250+ AMG Line Premium Plus
Price:£58,010
Powertrain:70.5kWh battery, 1x e-motor
Power/torque:187bhp/385Nm
Transmission:Single-speed auto, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:8.6 seconds
Top speed:99mph
Range:314 miles
Max charging:100kW DC (10-80% in 35min)
Size (L/W/H):4,465/2,020/1,624
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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