Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d vs Audi Q3 35TDI
- Published On: 21 September 2017
- 7 min read
Both luxury SUVs are back with updates and new bits. So, which offers the most bang for your buck?
Mercedes-Benz and Audi recently updated their GLA 220d and Q3 compact SUVs respectively to help boost sales and make the cars more appealing. The Q3 wears a restyled face and gets a minor bump up in power, while the GLA get minor changes inside and out. So, does it make more sense to buy the GLA or the Q3?
On the inside
The new Q3’s well-built dashboard, high-quality plastics and aluminium bits in the top ‘Technology’ trim add to its overall air of luxury. The upholstery uses leatherette (a leather substitute), that feels anything but low rent. The buttons, which are from larger Audis, feel solid. At the front, the seats are a tad soft but supportive and the high seating position gives you a commanding view of the road, more so than in the Merc. The rear seats can seat two adults in comfort, three might be a squeeze, but there is good headroom and legroom, and the seats are supportive too. The large panoramic sunroof goes a long way to make the cabin feel airier. Fitted to the car is Audi’s MMI infotainment system through the dash-mounted screen – it’s easy to use and sound quality is great.
The dashboard of the GLA feels positively solid. The ageing and cluttered centre console, however is a bit of a let-down. There’s no climate control and some of the buttons and knobs feel low rent. The beige upholstery and the large panoramic roof make the cabin feel airy, and you can adjust the ambient lighting for the cabin and choose between 12 colours. The front seats are well-contoured and firm and are great for those long drives. Space is tight at the back though and the headroom is at a premium, and so is the underthigh support. Mercedes has also updated its COMAND system for the infotainment unit and it works better than the Audi's MMI. Audio quality in this car is also great.
Under the hood
Under the Q3’s hood sits a 184hp, 2.0-litre diesel engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and a part-time four-wheel-drive system. There’s more power now, but the engine tends to drone at low speeds, this goes away the minute you pick up pace though. Power delivery is largely smooth and the car can hit 100kph in a quick 8.13sec. The automatic gearbox works well and you can choose to shift manually through the quick and responsive paddle shifters located behind the steering. The Q3 dismisses most small bumps and broken roads easily, and ride is good too. The Q3 is quite stable out on the highway as well.
The Mercedes makes 170hp and 350Nm, which propels the car to 100kph in just 8.64sec. The car features Merc’s 4MATIC part-time all-wheel-drive system and the engine here is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The engine is noisy when you start it up, and the noise only increases as you pick up the pace. Gearshift are quick but the auto ’box does hesitate to downshift at times. Ride is good and is quite an improvement compared to the earlier version of this car. Handling is also one of the GLA’s strengths - it feels like less of an SUV and more of a cross-hatch when you’re driving quickly through turns.
Equipment and safety
Both are pretty well equipped with tech. The Q3 gets electric seats, reverse parking camera with sensors, hill descent control, a navigation system, paddle shifters, rear AC vents and a panoramic sunroof. There are six airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP as well. The GLA comes with LED headlights with LED projectors, ambient lighting and rear AC vents amongst others. In terms of safety, you get seven airbags, ABS with EBD and ESP, ISOFIX points for child seats and seat belts with pretensioners. There is no support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay on either of these cars.
Buying and owning
The Q3’s top-spec Technology variant costs Rs 40.60 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and you get a two years and unlimited kilometres warranty (which can be increased through Audi’s three-year extended warranty pack). The Premium Plus variant is priced at Rs 36.67 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) but it loses out on some equipment. The base 30 TDI Premium variant is sparsely equipped and costs Rs 33.70 lakh. The Mercedes GLA 220d 4MATIC has only one ‘Sport’ variant and it is priced at Rs 36.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The GLA is almost Rs 4 lakh cheaper than the Q3. Also, if you go for the less powerful 136hp GLA 200d, which misses out on some equipment and the four-wheel-drive system, the Sport variant could be yours for Rs 33.85 lakh and the even lower Style variant for Rs 30.65 lakh. Mercedes offers a warranty of three years and unlimited kilometres on all its cars and also an extended warranty of up to six years.
The GLA is a car you should buy if you like driving over being driven around. So, if you are self-driven, appreciate the crossover styling and aren’t too concerned with the less than ideal rear seat, the Merc is the car for you. However, the Audi is more practical and feels more like a traditional SUV than the Mercedes. The cabin is larger, the roofline more accommodating of rear passengers – it’s a car you can easily be chauffeur-driven in. Performance from the engine is stronger, and the gearbox is sweeter than the Merc’s as well. While the Q3 is a bit more expensive, you get a whole lot more SUV.