Hot crossovers: Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 vs Audi RS Q3

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Hot, sporty crossovers are all the rage these days. Time to see how the recently updated Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 stacks up against the similarly rejuvenated Audi RS Q3. First comparison test via

The two compact SUVs should not be bothered with off-road raids: both Audi RS Q3 Performance and Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 are more likely to spend their lives on the paved road. Although RS Q3 and AMG GLA 45 have already been on the market for some time, Audi and Mercedes have continued to improve the technology. As if the 360 ​​PS of old were not enough, AMG gave the GLA 45 an extra 21 PS – the two-liter four-cylinder coming to a power-to-liter ratio of nearly 200 PS. In order to put this force safely to the road, a mechanical differential lock on the front axle was added.

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Audi also went a step further and offers the RS Q3 for 4,000 euros surcharge in a Performance variant with 367 instead of 340 HP together with extended series equipment – carbon jewelery in the cockpit, red-painted brake calipers or 20-inch wheels in titanium optics matte. With its red-painted cylinder head covers as well as a plastered suction bridge, the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder turbo sounds fantastic: the odd number of combustion chambers and their ignition sequence 1-2-4-5-3 ensures the characteristic gurgling rally sound of the Röhrl era. An optimized thermal management including an enlarged main water cooler gave the developers the necessary room to get more power from the direct injection. Correspondingly, the Q3 jumps out of the block, reaches a speed of 100 seconds after 4.7 seconds, and pulls beyond 200. It also impresses how evenly the turbo delivers its power. Despite the higher friction losses, the five-cylinder consumes on average only 0.6 l / 100 km more than the four-cylinder in the Benz.

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But with all the euphoria about the engine: Quick steering is far less in the nature of the Audi, as the RS sports badge on the radiator grille suggests. Thus, the strongest Q3 is to be tasked with plenty of steering work in curves, where it under-steered and noticeably wavered. In addition, its ESP pulls the emergency brake early and affects performance.

The dynamics of an RS Q3 should be more than sufficient for most drivers – but whoever wants to experience what is possible in this class should try the 200 kg lighter GLA 45. The AMG bends practically without a point of view (no roll in sight) and can be more clearly swept through curves with more precise steering than the Audi. In figures: the Benz drives 7 km / h faster than the Audi in corners and impresses with its stable brakes.

Thanks to the mechanical differential lock on the front axle (included in the Dynamic Plus package for 2.618 Euros), the driver can jump on the throttle at a surprisingly early pace: the four-wheel drive sprawls forward, accompanied by the rumble of the 381 PS four-cylinder engine, which is particularly fierce in the low engine speed range. Since the gears three to seven of the jagged double clutch transmission are translated shorter than before and the GLA 45 now marches to 100 km/h in 4.6 instead of 4.8 seconds, however, only owners of the previous version should notice.

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Despite the new adaptive chassis and Comfort ride mode, the suspension speaks for short distortions and shakes the inmates hard on bad slopes. At such moments, the question of meaning comes up in the GLA 45: What does it really mean to pump an A-Class into a soft-offroader, then force it back into a sportscar wannabe? Especially since the SUV-feeling is passé because of the low seating position.

The RS Q3, however, offers higher suspension comfort and a significantly lower interior noise level: especially back seat passengers enjoy the airier feeling of space. In front, the driver and copilot sit just eight centimeters higher than in the Mercedes. However, although the interior shines with high material and workmanship, the infotainment reveals that the Q3 is now one of the older Audi models. Thus, the operation is still based on the MMI of the last A3 generation and can not yet be operated with a large rotary push-button with touch-pad while the elbow comfortably lugs on the armrest.

However, the Audi is not approaching the great offer of comfort and safety assistants of the GLA,. While the Mercedes automatically calls for help in case of an accident or takes over the steering work during parking, there is not even a radar-based cruise control system in the Audi. And since the RS combines its more sumptuous standard equipment with a basic price that is just under 5,000 euros above that of the AMG, the Mercedes wins again.

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1. Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic
Impressive, how motivated the GLA 45 starts, how easy-footed it hunts the tight curves and how powerful it brakes. The GLA 45 has no interest for any SUV feelings.

2. Audi RS Q3 performance
With its relaxed style and higher seating position, the Q3 wins in everyday use. However, despite the genius of the five-cylinder engine, it is not approaching the dynamism of the AMG.

Tech Data
Mercedes AMG GLA 45 4Matic Audi RS Q3 Performance 2.5 TFSI Quattro
Base price 56.347 € 61.000 €
Lenght x Width x Height 4445 x 1804 x 1479 mm 4411 x 1841 x 1580 mm
Luggage comparment VDA 421-1235 L 356-1261 L
Engine 1991 cm³ / L4 2480 cm³ / R5
Power Output 280 kW / 381 PS (475 Nm) 270 kW / 367 PS (465 Nm)
Maximum speed 250 km/h 270 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h 4,4 s 4,4 s
Consumption (mixed) 7,4 L/100 km 8,6 L/100 km
Consumption (test) 9,9 L/100 km 10,5 L/100 km