Dated Audi Q5 can’t hold a handle to the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC. Our colleagues from AutoBild decided to prove this theory themselves, pitting the two SUVs against each other in first comparison test.
The Mercedes does it all, at first sight. It’s beautiful, comfortable and a lot more sportier than it used to be. In fact, the canyon between the GLC and its GLK predecessor the two share virtually no detail, not even the footprint or their design. The all-new GLC prefers to go the softer, posh route, with a rounded and aerodynamic body as opposed to the angular treats of old.
To honor the title of bigger brother to the C-Class T-Modell, Mercedes’ all-new mid-size SUV grew up, considerably. Twelve centimeters longer, five wider, one centimeter higher, to be more precise. Thus, the 4.66-meter SUV even tops the generous dimensions of the Audi Q5 (4.63 meters) arch-rival.
Wait to step on the inside. In front, you feel just like in the new C-Class. Sure, the seating position is higher and more upright while there’s a more airy feel to the entire cabin space. Otherwise the cockpit of the SUV sports similar dashboard arrangements and shiny trim fittings to the sedan and station wagon variants. This is a very good thing, in fact. For the first time in recent history Mercedes managed to top Audi in therms of ambiance and quality. Compared to the new Benz, the Q5 shouts pure sobriety.
And things don’t get any better when taking into consideration the practical advantages. The almost twelve centimeters come largely to the benefit of the the rear passengers and their corresponding luggage. The GLC also manages to trump the Q5 by no less than 6cm in the legroom department while also offering 3,4cm more width space.
Here the additional centimeters are not left captive on a piece of paper. There is significantly more room for the legs as well as the possibility to move your head worries free even in association with the big glass sunroof. The backrest of the rear seats is now triple split (40/20/40 percent) and misses the reclining functions targeted at those who prefer sitting more relaxed. However: In the Audi, the rear passengers don’t feel much more cramped. They do sit slightly lower though, making the entry and exit a bit tedious.
Further back we stumble upon another plus side of the GLC. The new Mercedes SUV offers 550-liters of luggage space, some 80 more than the old GLK. The loading sill is high and therefore less practical, but the maximum storage room of 1.600-liters accomplished after the seats are folded easily overshadows this small niggle. The Audi can accommodate less luggage, at 540-1.560 liters. Its cargo compartment is also lacking in width and stowage space beneath the boot floor.
Another Mercedes advantage: Whoever chooses to pay extra for the Airmatic air suspension will discover the loading area can be lowered a few centimeters at the push of a button.
In fact, the very same air suspension is GLC’s hidden ace. Unique in the segment, this is a feature no other rival can offer, opening up new horizons in the spring/damper tuning area. Automatic leveling front and rear goes hand to hand with variable ground clearance, giving the GLC an appreciable advantage outside the asphalt as an added bonus. To put things into perspective, we’ll simply refrain to quote the excellent off-road credentials: 30.8 degrees (Angle of approach), 24.8 degrees (Angle of departure), 19.7 degrees (ramp angle), maximum ground clearance 23 centimeters, as opposed to 23, 20, 17 and 20 centimeters for the Audi.
The driver can choose between five off-road programs (“offroad”, “slope”, “rocking assist”, “smoothness”, “Chain”), whereby the position of “rock assist” brings the maximum ground clearance and more traction. It is essential that you tick the “off-road engineering package” box on the options list though. In contrast, Audi Q5 customers are denied the pleasures and inherent advantages of the Offroad programs.
Let’s finally address the most important dilemma. Is the new GLC also the better handling car here? The drive options will certainly feel familiar to those already accustomed to the C-Class and its engines range. The selection is limited to the well-known diesel models 220 d (170 hp) and 250 d (204 hp) as well as the petrol engine 250 (211 hp) and 350 e, the latter a plug-in hybrid which couples a 211 hp four-cylinder turbo with a 116 hp electric engine. All models are equipped with four-wheel drive as well as the new nine-speed automatic transmission as standard, with the exception of the 350 e which receives the old seven gears automatic transmission.
Improved aerodynamics (Cd 0.30 instead of the previous 0.34) and less weight (minus 80 kg) can only translate to lowering the standard consumption values (up to 19 percent) as well as marginally improving performance. The 204 hp GLC 250 d tested here and its 5.0 l/100 km mixed consumption figure make the Audi Q5 TDI seem more dated than it actually is with its 190 hp and 5.7 l/100 km.
So, what’s the verdict? Spacious, practical, comfortable and surprisingly sporty – what’s there to object about the new Mercedes GLC? Road presence maybe. The sales success is a given that cannot be deterred by the typically high price expectations of Mercedes. “Old” is in fact quite a kind therm when referring to the Audi Q5…