Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC – premium SUV showdown

December 16, 2016 by

Premium SUVs are perfect for those who need a practical family car with the prestige and road presence of a high-riding 4×4. The latest Audi Q5 offers big promises  it’s lighter, more efficient and better built than ever before  but how does it compare to the excellent Mercedes GLC?

Take a look at just how much carwow can help you save on either of these handsome crossovers by heading over to our new car deals page. If you’re not sure what to buy, read our list of the 10 best luxury 4x4s currently on sale and our countdown of the best SUVs available or check out our car chooser tool for help making a decision.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC prices

The Audi Q5 range is priced from £37,170. Entry-level SE models come with a 2.0-litre TDI engine with quattro all-wheel drive and 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, leather seats and a DAB radio as standard.

Costing from £35,580, the entry-level Mercedes GLE 250d SE is slightly cheaper than the Q5. It comes just as well-equipped, too – besides a set of slightly smaller 17-inch alloy wheels, its comprehensive range of standard equipment is no less generous than the Audi.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC styling

The Audi’s styling is more conservative than ground-breaking. That’s not necessarily a criticism though  in recent years the German brand’s understated designs have proved hugely popular. The biggest change from the old model is a thick, angular grille and a pair of edgy headlights and a number of bold creases on the bonnet and doors. It’s all pleasantly handsome, in a slightly forgettable way.

The Mercedes is a little more striking, and not just thanks to a Mercedes logo so large that the Beastie Boys would think twice about turning it into a neck chain. Elsewhere it’s a very attractive SUV  its proportions look spot on, the design is clean yet distinctive and, in AMG Line trim, it looks suitably sporty, too.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC interior

The Q5 and GLC boast two of the most gorgeous cabins in their class, both in terms of design and material quality. It’s the Audi interior that just edges out the Mercedes here, though. Its basic layout isn’t just slick and contemporary, but logical and easy to use, too.

In cars fitted with the optional Virtual Cockpit system, it’s improved even further  a 12.3-inch customisable display ahead of the driver replaces traditional dials and gives it a thoroughly futuristic feel.

The GLC looks stunning inside but can’t quite match the Q5 for quality. The centre console, topped by a trio of air vents, looks suitably posh, and every switch operates with a reassuringly solid feel.

The only major minus point for the GLC comes from its infotainment setup  satellite navigation is an optional extra and, even if you upgrade to the fanciest COMAND system, it’s not as slick or as easy to use as the Q5’s MMI hardware.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC practicality

The Audi not only looks great inside, but it’s been sensibly laid out and makes the most of the space available. There are loads of useful cubby holes and Audi claims that the Q5 has class-leading space in the back – even tall passengers will have plenty of head and legroom to stretch out in.

The only minor criticism is that there’s quite a big lump in the floor – carrying three abreast in the back might prove to be a bit of a squeeze as a result. Its 540-litre boot is massive for the class, however, and its square shape and lack of a load lip makes sliding in large items quite easy.

The GLC’s 500-litre boot isn’t quite as big as the Audi’s but it should still prove large enough for most people. The load lip is quite high, however, which can make loading heavier items a little tricky. Its boot is wide and square, however, and there’s lockable false floor to store valuable items in, too.

The GLC runs the Q5 very close for passenger space, too. There’s loads of space in the back but, like its rival, a tall transmission tunnel limits foot room for a third passenger.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC engines

Under the bonnet, the Q5 is available with a choice of two four-cylinder diesels and one V6. The smaller 2.0-litre units can be a little grumbly under hard acceleration but the most efficient model can return as much as 56.5mpg. If your budget allows, the 3.0-litre is the one to go for  it returns a claimed 47.9mpg, but it’s much smoother and feels significantly faster.

If performance is your thing, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 is the car to go for. A twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine pumps out 367hp which, when mated to a four-wheel-drive system, shifts this five-seat family car to 62mph from rest in only 4.9 seconds.

If you’d like to spend less time at your local petrol station, the 250d is the model to have. It’s powered by a more powerful version of the same 2.0-litre diesel used by the entry-level 220d, but offers more performance and near-identical fuel economy for just £1,155 more.

Each model is paired to a nine-speed automatic gearbox that, besides an occasional jerky kickdown gearchange, is even more silky smooth than the Q5’s seven-speed auto.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC driving

The Audi Q5 doesn’t quite live up to the ‘Sports’ part of its Sports Utility Vehicle billing, instead prioritising a relaxing ride. That’s no bad thing  it’s a comfortable and refined car in which to cover long distances. It’s at its best when equipped with the optional adaptive dampers  select comfort mode, and it glides over bumps as well as anything in its class.

Thanks, in part, to its class-leading aerodynamics, the Q5 can cruise quietly with barely any wind noise at motorway speeds. Road noise can make its way into the cabin on models fitted with larger wheels, however.

The GLC shares much of its underpinnings with the C-Class saloon and, as a result, it’s quiet and comfy on the move. In fact, it’s the only car in the segment that can match the Q5’s refined cruising capabilities.

Like the Q5, the GLC isn’t the most enjoyable car to drive – both the steering and brakes feel slightly numb and uninvolving. The air suspension does a good job of controlling the GLC’s tall body but it will occasionally wallow over bigger bumps in its most relaxed setting.

Audi Q5 vs Mercedes GLC verdict

It’s a very close call between these two, with both the Audi Q5 and the Mercedes GLC trading blows when it comes to comfort, cabin quality, style and running costs. In the end, we’d say that the Audi just pips it to the post.

It may be slightly more expensive than the Mercedes, but it boasts slightly more generous equipment levels, a smarter interior and a bigger boot. Whichever you choose, you won’t feel short-changed, however, they’re both exceptional SUVs.

Save money on your next new car

To see how much carwow could help you save on either of these premium SUVs, head over to our Audi Q5 deals page and our Mercedes GLC deals page. To see what else this class has to offer, take a look at our car chooser or read our list of the 10 best luxury SUVs currently on sale.