It’s taken long enough, but Mercedes-Benz has finally pulled the covers off its new electric compact SUV, the EQA. Essentially a zero-emission version of the GLA, it’s the third model in the EQ lineup after the EQC and EQV and will soon be joined by the GLB-based EQB. It will go on sale in Europe in the spring.

As expected, the car’s links to its conventionally-powered sibling are visible all around, as it shares the same basic structure and most of the body panels. The biggest change is the redesigned front fascia, which features tapered headlights that flow into the closed-off gloss black grille. Gloss-black badges on the front fenders further differentiate the EQA from the GLA.

Full-LED lamps come as standard, with blue detailing that is consistent with the EQ brand. The “eyebrow” daytime running lights are joined together by a single fibre optic strip running across the top edge of the grille. This conjoined lighting signature is also found at the rear, although the outer taillights with their rectangular graphics have been lifted from the regular GLA.

The centre light strip and the lower-mounted Three-pointed Star have pushed the number plate downwards, now nestling in the black plastic bumper insert. As with other Mercedes models, the EQA is also offered in AMG Line trim, adding sportier front and rear bumper designs as well as a double louvre grille. The wheel options measure up to 20 inches in diameter and are available with blue or rose gold highlights.

Aerodynamics are a major consideration for electric vehicles as engineers eke out every last kilometre of range. The EQA has a drag coefficient of only 0.28, which is lower than the GLA despite larger 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. Key features include cleaner front and rear fascia designs, aero wheels, an active air intake, improved headlight and radiator sealing and optimised underbody panelling.

Inside, the EQA is almost identical to the GLA, which itself shares much of its interior with the B-Class. The dashboard features cutouts in front of the driver and passenger, into which sits a freestanding display panel. As usual, the car will be equipped with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) and twin displays that measure either seven or 10.25 inches across.

The infotainment touchscreen features EQ-specific menus for charging options, electricity consumption and energy flow, while the instrument display swaps out a rev counter for a wattmeter that measures electric power being used and recuperated. One unique feature is the optional fibre optic illumination for the decorative trim, although customers can also choose from the usual wood and aluminium options.

Aside from the typical Progressive and AMG Line models, the EQA will also be offered in Electric Art trim, which includes grey faux Artico leather and rose gold highlights on the air vents, seat piping and fabric, the latter derived from PET bottles. There will also be a special-edition Edition 1 version that adds blue air vents and blue fabric under the genuine perforated grey leather.

Just one powertrain variant is being offered at the moment, the EQA 250. This uses a single asynchronous front-mounted electric motor to deliver 140 kW (190 PS) and an impressive 375 Nm of torque, enabling the car to get from zero to 100 km/h in 8.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 160 km/h. A 66.5 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery provides a range of 426 km on the WLTP cycle.

Mercedes is promising a number of other models to come, such as all-wheel-drive versions with a synchronous rear motor that will also include a high-performance AMG variant, according to Autocar. Such a system would be capable of adjusting the torque split up to 100 times a second. Alternatively, a long-range front-wheel-drive EQA will have a predicted range of over 500 km on the WLTP cycle.

To save space, the 420-volt battery features a double-decker design that slots under the rear passenger space, with the taller portion sitting under the boot floor. The GLA’s Modular Front Architecture (MFA2) wasn’t designed for full electrification, so the rear floor had to be extensively reworked, reducing rear legroom and significantly cutting cargo space from 435 litres to just 340.

You’ll be able to charge the EQA using up to 11 kW of AC power, although charging times will vary depending on the infrastructure of the country you’re in. The car is also capable of accepting up to 100 kW of DC fast charging, which would fill the battery from 10 to 80% in just half an hour. European and American buyers will receive a CCS charging socket, while those in Japan and China will get their own region-specific ports (which we assume would be a CHAdeMO socket in Japan).

Helping to extend range is the Eco Assist feature, which provides driver coaching to maximise efficiency. It also uses navigation data, traffic sign recognition and information from the car’s sensors to determine whether to coast or recuperate energy when the driver lifts their foot off the pedal. Meanwhile, Navigate with Electric Intelligent calculates the quickest route to the destination while taking into account charging stops.

In Europe, Mercedes is also introducing a Green Charging initiative, producing certificates of origin for charging stations to encourage the wider adoption of renewable energy sources. This is integrated into the Mercedes me Charge service, which provides access to over 450,000 charging points across 31 countries – claimed to be the world’s largest charging network. The Ionity network of fast charging points is also included.

As with the GLA, the EQA will come with front MacPherson strut and rear four-link suspension as standard, with adaptive dampers available as an option. Mercedes is touting several improvements in refinement, including the isolation of the powertrain and ancillaries, increased structural rigidity, revised rear subframe mounts and new vibration-reducing elastomer bearings on the rear axle.

The EQA will also feature all the usual Mercedes active safety functions, including standard autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist. On the options list is the Driving Assistance Package, which adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane centring assist, active speed limit assist, evasive steering assist, blind spot monitoring and Pre-Safe Plus.