The 2021 Audi Q3 and 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA are points of entry to the subcompact luxury SUV category. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Audi Q3
Above Average: 2020 Best Buy Award for subcompact luxury SUVs; stylish and sporty; top-shelf technology; standard quattro all-wheel drive.
Below Average: No hybrid or high-performance model; the transmission can feel rough; adaptive cruise control still costs extra.
Consensus: Revamped just two years ago, the Audi Q3 subcompact luxury SUV brings bold design, innovative technology, and excellent fit and finish. It includes standard quattro all-wheel drive, leather seating, and a panoramic sunroof. Unlike some rivals, only one powertrain is available. Cargo space isn’t the largest in the segment but still substantial.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA
Above Average: Shorter in length but taller and roomier; more rear legroom; digital instrument cluster; “hey Mercedes” MBUX interface; potent GLA 35 and GLA 45 models.
Below Average: Front-drive models can display torque steer; rough downshifts when stopping; could be quieter; options make it pricey.
Consensus: The new GLA is the affordable entryway to the Mercedes-Benz SUV arena. This second-generation GLA is much roomier inside. Mercedes sees the GLA as more of a sporty, lifestyle-oriented model compared to the larger GLB.
Q3 vs GLA: Entry-level Equation
2021 Audi Q3:
The 2021 Audi Q3 was revamped just two years ago. Now bolder and with more innovative technology, we named it our Best Buy Award winner in a segment with some stout competition.
The Q3 isn’t as sporty as other models in the Audi lineup, but it was still entertaining on twisty roads. Power delivery from the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is good, as the Q3 wrings 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from this singular choice of engine. That’s enough to scoot the Q3 from 0-60 mph in 7 seconds flat. The engine mates to an 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual-shift mode, and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive is standard. It can tow up to 2,200 pounds.
The Q3’s interior looks like it was pulled from a much more expensive Audi. For an entry-level luxury SUV, the 2021 Audi Q3 includes a long list of standard features. The base “Premium” trim features leather upholstery, 8-way power adjustable and heated front seats with 4-way lumbar support, a power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, and tri-zone climate control.
Also standard is a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster plus an 8.8-inch central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. There are four USB ports, including USB-C ports and a 10-speaker/180-watt audio system.
Standard safety features include lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, and low-speed automatic emergency braking.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA:
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is the roomier second-generation version of this entry-level SUV. Designed to accommodate five, it now includes more rear-seat legroom and front-seat headroom.
Base power for the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 is a 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 making 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It mates to an 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s enough power for an average user, and this engine is well-suited to the front- or 4Matic all-wheel-drive formats of the GLA.
For those wanting more oomph, there is the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, which uses the same size 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 tuned to produce 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Then there’s the high-performance Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, which makes 382 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use an AMG Speedshift DCT 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard AMG Performance 4Matic AWD. The GLA 45 also has AMG Torque Control, which sends power individually to each rear wheel. As for 0-60 mph times, they tick off in 5.1 and 4.3 seconds, respectively. Towing is not recommended.
The 2021 GLA has a long list of standard features. This includes the MBUX infotainment system, a power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels (with all-season run-flat tires), Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a multifunction leather-covered steering wheel with touch-control buttons and shift paddles.
Other standard equipment on the new GLA 250 includes 8-way power front seats with memory, keyless ignition, selectable drive modes, a 7-inch digital instrument panel, and a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.
Good looks; 5-passenger seating; fun to drive.
2021 Audi Q3 Advantages:
Handsome looks; spacious and luxurious interior; peppy power and athletic handling; standard AWD; lower price.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA:
Mercedes-Benz build quality; good handling on the twisty bits; two potent AMG models.
Which One is Right for Me?
The 2021 Audi Q3 is loaded with technology, power, and standard all-wheel drive that adds confidence in challenging or wet conditions. It provides a fine balance of performance and comfort.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is the entry point to the Mercedes family of SUVs. It features plenty of technology, including a 10.25-inch display screen. There’s not one, but two AMG high-performance variants available.
Ready to buy a 2021 Audi Q3 or 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA? Shop now for one on sale near you.
|2021 Audi Q3||2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA|
|Engine||2.0-liter turbo I4||2.0-liter turbo I4|
|Horsepower||228 hp @ 6,000 rpm||221 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque||258 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1,620 rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd automatic||8-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||30 mpg (28 city/34 hwy)||28 mpg (25 city/34 hwy)|
|Warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||4 years/50,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|NHTSA Safety Rating||5 stars||n/a|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||105.5 inches||107.4 inches|
|Overall Length||176.6 inches||173.6 inches|
|Width||72.8 inches||72.2 inches|
|Height||62.9 inches||63.6 inches|
|Turning Diameter||38.4 feet||37.4 feet|
|Headroom, Front||39.6 inches||40.8 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||37.6 inches||38.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||40.0 inches||41.1 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||36.1 inches||38.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||56.7 inches||55.9 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||55.1 inches||54.8 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||84.0 cubic feet||n/a|
|Cargo Volume||23.7/48.0 cubic feet||15.4/50.5 cubic feet|