Audi Q3 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA

13 October 2015
 by 
, CarsGuide
This pair offers affordable luxury in a stylish package. But which one does it better? Craig Duff decides.

Value

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

$47,900

The Q3 is nominally the cheapest of this duo... until you compare standard specification. Buyers will need to delve into the options list and that will push the price well north of GLA. The three-year warranty is industry average and the first three annual/15,000km services can be covered for a one-off payment of $1590. Glass's Guide predicts a resale value after three years of 56 per cent.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

$48,300

There's more to the Benz for the standard sticker price, from semi-automated parallel parking to blind-spot monitoring and a powered tailgate. The three-year warranty requires servicing every 12 months/25,000km and a pre-paid $1980 covers the first three trips. Resale is likewise projected to be 56 per cent.

Design

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

More overt SUV-styling imparts an impression of spaciousness with the A3, as distinct from the GLA's high-riding hatch approach. That's highlighted when parked side-by-side; the Audi is a shorter, taller vehicle. Interior space is more than acceptable for the front occupants and tolerable for those in the back.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

A raked-back look endows the GLA with a sportier profile than the Audi. For some, the Q3's elevated drive will be part of the appeal; for mine the GLA's a better compromise. The interior has more buttons and fewer soft-touch plastics than dearer Mercs but front-seat comfort isn't an issue.

Technology

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

Engine

This is one diesel Audi's still happy to sell you. The 2.0-litre unit is EU6-compliant with an official fuel use of 5.2L/100km. The Mercedes beats it on economy but it fights back with better off-the-mark acceleration at 9.3 seconds versus 9.9 seconds in the 0-100km/h sprint. The Q3's on-demand all-wheel drive system is matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

Engine

Being down 10kW/40Nm doesn't hurt the Benz's fuel use. The 4.6L/100km claimed use from the 2.1-litre turbo mill will be closer to 6.0L/100km on the road, but is a valid reason to buy a diesel if you do decent kilometres. As with Audi, power is transferred using a seven-speed dual-clutch auto but it only goes to the front wheels in the Benz.

Safety

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

No issues here. Six airbags and other safety equipment earned the Q3 an NCAP crash rating of 35.15 out of 37 when it was tested in 2012. Tyre-pressure monitors and a reversing camera are part of the default specification.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

ANCAP has yet to rate the GLA but the compact SUV has earned a five-star score with sister-site EuroNCAP. ANCAP rates the A-Class and CLA-Class cars on which the GLA is based at 35.8 and 36.16/37 respectively.

Driving

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

The Q3 is a consummate all-rounder. It soaks up city knocks like a long-suffering parent without leaning like a loon around sweeping bends. The steering response is direct if not engaging. The car is not standout in any one area but ticks the boxes in most, which explains why it is marginally outselling the GLA.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

The GLA is a sharper-edged tool. The steering is livelier, as is the suspension, which faintly jolts over potholes. If the chassis is willing, the engine is found wanting. It's fine for domestic duties but lacks the kick-in-the-pants push found in its petrol and AWD-powered siblings and just feels a little mundane.

Verdict

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI

18.5/25

Better luck
next time :(

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI

19/25

Winner winner
chicken dinner!

More gear and sharper styling gives Benz the narrowest of wins here, but it is far from a knockout punch.

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