The Mercedes GLC is one of the newest additions to the premium SUV sector. based on the popular C-Class, it offers a refined driving experience and an exceptional interior. These are also words that could be used to describe the Audi Q5, however – a strong-selling model despite the fact it’s nearing replacement. We compare both models to help you pick the right one…
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Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – styling
Mercedes has never offered an SUV of this size in the UK but, in other markets, it replaces the boxy GLK model. The GLC couldn’t be more different, sporting a rounded imposing grille, sculpted flanks and curved bodywork. Sport and AMG Sport trims get standard LED running lights and large alloy wheels that really help the Mercedes stand apart from less premium alternatives.
The Q5, on the other hand, is a familiar sight on UK roads, having been around since 2008. Despite its dating looks, it isn’t an unattractive car and arguably remains one of the neatest-looking SUVs on the road, especially in sportier S-Line trim. The Q5 also has more traditional SUV lines, especially compared to the GLC, with a more upright rear end and fewer styling creases.
Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – interior
Following the well received C-Class and S-Class, the GLC has a fantastic looking dashboard with a tablet-style infotainment screen mounted on top. Mercedes’ COMAND system might not be quite as user-friendly as the Audi’s, but it has plenty of impressive features and a new touchpad controller.
The Q5’s interior has stood the test of time well, but is starting to look a little tired compared to newer rivals. It lacks the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system and also the impressive virtual cockpit that features on the latest Audi models. Still, quality remains high and buyers will find the Q5 has an ambience that more mainstream cars struggle to match.
In terms of space, the two are reasonably well matched – the Mercedes has 550 litres of boot space, with the Audi a mere 10 litres behind. The GLC extends its lead when the seats are lowered as well but, with 1,600 litres, it’s only 40 litres more than the Q5. Passenger space in both cars is good too, with a good amount of space for four occupants and five possible at a push.
Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – driving
The GLC has been praised for offering a good balance between a comfortable ride and reasonably agile handling. Four-wheel drive is standard on all models and helps give the Mercedes a surefooted feeling on the move. There are four driving modes to choose from and those with deeper pockets can specify the optional adaptive air-suspension – the GLC is the only car in its class to offer this.
All Q5 models also come with quattro four-wheel drive helping it achieve a reassuringly stable driving experience, with grippy handling and body control that belies its size. Unfortunately, the Q5 also suffers from quite a harsh ride when fitted with large alloy wheels – we’d avoid these on Britain’s pitted road surfaces.
In terms of off-road ability, it’s the Mercedes that comes out on top, particularly when specified with the optional £495 off-road package. The air-suspension enables you to raise the ride height and there’s also different bumpers to help you conquer steeper angles. That’s not to say the Q5 is the poor relation and it’s sure to be capable enough for the majority of owners.
Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – engines
Currently, the GLC has a pretty limited choice of engines – the same 2.1-litre diesel engine in two states of tune. The base 220d engine has 168hp and can get from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.3 seconds while the 250d has 204hp and can do the same sprint in just 7.6 seconds. Both come as standard with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that suits the GLC’s laidback driving experience. We’d probably recommend the lower powered engine unless you really desire the extra performance.
Petrol fans will have to wait a while until they can grab a GLC – there’s a petrol-electric hybrid 350e due later this year, with impressive performance and minimal fuel consumption and emissions. Later on, there should be an AMG 43 version – set to be the performance flagship of the range – with a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine.
The Q5 has a much more comprehensive engine range, consisting of a single 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 225hp and four diesel choices. Two of those are 2.0-litre diesels, with either 148hp or 187hp and 0-62mph times of 10.8 and 8.4 seconds respectively. Then there’s a 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 245hp – it takes 7.1 seconds to get from 0-62mph. The 2.0-litre engines come as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, but an eight-speed automatic gearbox is an option for the higher-powered diesel and standard for the V6.
Adrenalin junkies will want to look at the Audi SQ5 – a performance tuned version that has a twin-turbocharged V6 diesel unit making a huge 313hp. It’s one of the fastest SUVs on the market – 0-62mph is completed in a mere 5.1 seconds.
Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – value for money
The Mercedes is priced at just less than £35,000, but a few choice options and a higher trim level can see prices for top-spec 250d models reach more than £45,000 – quite a lot of money. Considering the GLC’s respectable performance and sizeable body, official fuel economy of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km aren’t bad.
The Audi’s wider selection of engines and trims make it a little less simple to assess its value. The cheapest Q5’s are around £32,000 but those have a manual gearbox and a lower powered diesel engine compared to the GLC. The majority of buyers will want to upgrade to the automatic version of the 187hp 2.0-litre diesel that’s priced from £34,690. Adding popular S-Line trim increases the price another £2,500, or £4,900 for S-Line Plus.
The Q5’s petrol engines aren’t priced too dissimilarly to the 2.0-litre diesels, but the V6 diesel is rather expensive costing £38,790. Choosing the SQ5 variant will set you back at least £45,500 but it’s not uncommon to see SQ5’s reach comfortably more than £50,000. It’s also more expensive to run than the GLC, on the whole, with even the most economical diesels unable to better 50mpg. The petrol versions and V6 diesels return less than 40mpg – disappointing when you consider the noticeably larger Q7 posts official fuel economy of nearly 50mpg, even with a V6 engine.
Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – verdict
Whichever model you choose, you’re unlikely to be dissatisfied with your new car. The Mercedes offers a beautiful interior, a more rounded driving experience and better fuel economy. The Q5, on the other hand, is better if you’re looking at the bottom end of the range or if you’re after an extreme high performance version.
For us, the fresher design and more modern technology of the GLC will give it the edge for many customers. Things might well change when a new version of the Audi Q5 launches later this year but, for now, we’d chose the three-pointed star rather than the four rings.
Save money on your new SUV
Whichever you prefer, check out our Mercedes GLC deals page or Audi Q5 deals page to get the best price on your new SUV. If neither of these cars is for you, our car chooser is here to help narrow down your search.