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Compact Crossovers: Mercedes GLA-Class vs Audi Q3

While crossovers have quickly become one of the most popular body styles among new car buyers, not everyone’s life suits a large SUV, making more compact and manageable models like the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA ideal. So, how do the current generations of these two exquisite models compare, before new versions arrive in summer 2018 and early 2019 respectively?

On the outside

Think of these premium German crossovers as raised up, slightly more spacious and somewhat more rugged versions of their hatchback siblings, the A-Class and A3. Their front grilles are both bold but the Audi’s is more gaping and surrounded by chrome in a 3D effect, whereas the Mercedes’ grille is wider and shallower, making the GLA appear a little lower-slung. The Q3 has a bubbly, curvaceous side profile that makes it seem taller, while the GLA’s more pronounced flanks and rising beltline give it a longer profile. Both of these luxury crossovers feature sophisticated and eye-catching LED lights at the rear, the Mercedes looking the more expensive and mature car overall compared to the Audi’s youthful take.

Conclusion: The Mercedes GLA wins on looks, thanks to its elegant form, mature image and slightly stronger road presence

On the inside

As one would expect from luxury models like these, both crossovers come well-appointed but some differences are immediately noticeable. For starters, the infotainment screen in the current GLA is located above the trio of circular air vents at the top of the centre console, while the A3’s infotainment screen rises up out of the dashboard in the car’s linear cockpit, contributing to a more minimalist look.

Each of these compact crossovers comes with an impressive range of standard equipment such as sat nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth. But while the entry level Sport model of the Q3 range is fitted with cloth sports seats, the base SE trim GLA comes with ARTICO man-made leather. Both models can be upgraded to include softer leather and more advanced entertainment systems, of course.

In terms of space, the slightly larger and also more expensive GLA offers more room for the driver and passengers compared to the Audi, and the Mercedes also wins on boot space, providing 481 litres compared to 460 litres from the Q3 - still impressive for a compact car.

Conclusion: The Audi Q3’s interior feels more high quality and oozes precision

Power options

  • Audi’s Q3 coupe-SUV crossover offers low-mileage drivers an excellent petrol engine in the form of the 1.4 TFSI equipped with cylinder-on-demand technology to boost its potential fuel economy up to 51.4mpg, while keeping its emissions down to 127g/km CO2.
  • The 2.0 TFSI quattro petrol engine is ideal for those after a more powerful petrol engine - in this case 180PS - with the added reassurance of four-wheel drive.
  • Audi’s renowned 2.0 TDI diesel engine is available for the Q3 in both 150PS front and four-wheel drive guises or a 184PS variant, with MPG ranging from 54.3 to 62.8.


  • The Mercedes GLA compact crossover in non-AMG guise, meanwhile, sees petrol power delivered by a 156bhp ‘200’ engine with 48.7mpg and 134g/km CO2 credentials.
  • There’s then a ‘250’ unit with power upped to 211bhp but emissions remaining impressive at 42.8mpg.
  • Diesel drivers delighted by the GLA can opt for a 136bhp ‘200 d’ with CO2 emissions as low as 108g and up to 67.3mpg at the pump.
  • Or there’s the ‘220 d’ which produces a peak of 177bhp while emitting 130g/km CO2 and averaging up to 56.5mpg in fuel consumption.

Conclusion: Audi’s clever and efficient 1.4 TFSI petrol engine is hard to ignore

In numbers…


Audi Q3

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class





Power (HP)





Fuel (comb MPG)





Emissions (CO2, g/km)





Top Speed (mph)





0 – 60mph in…. (seconds)










These two premium German compact crossover SUVs present a compelling package for drivers seeking a raised-up driving position, a healthy dose of prestige and engaging handling. The Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA are similar in many ways but quite distinct in others, so test-drives at Inchcape Audi and Inchcape Mercedes will help you discern which is the right choice for you.