Upmarket SUVs and crossovers are the current kings of the urban jungle. With their desirable premium image, high-riding visibility, family friendly practicality and fuel-saving front-wheel-drive layouts, theseversatile machines blend fashionable off-roader styling cues with low running costs.
The latest model to join the fray is the Mercedes GLA. Based on the sleek A-Class hatchback, it promises rugged good looks and agile car-like driving dynamics. There’s a choice of four or two-wheel drive, and we try the latter with a frugal 200 CDI turbodiesel.
Ready to give the GLA a thorough workout is the Audi Q3. It’s beautifully built and good to drive, plus the front-wheel drive and 2.0-litre TDI combination promises low fuel bills.
The final member of our trio is the Range Rover Evoque. In entry-level, front-wheel-drive eD4 Pure form, it gives you the stylish upper-crust look for less.
So which of our tall-riding contenders will emerge victorious?
Click the links below for the full verdict on each car...
Now read our head-to-head group test results below...
All our contenders feature the high-riding stance and rugged design cues of traditional SUVs. Yet with front-wheel drive and a lack of electronic aids, they’ll be no better in the rough stuff thana normal family hatchback.
However, the Range Rover does come with all-season tyres, so it’ll be more capable on snow and ice than the Mercedes GLA or the Audi Q3. The trade-off for this versatile rubber is less grip and composure on dry tarmac.
There’s plenty of premium appeal here, but which badge has the most kudos? From a residual values perspective, the Range Rover leads the way. Our experts calculate it’ll retain 58.7 per cent of its value after three years, compared to 51.4 per cent and 55.4 per cent for the GLA and Q3 respectively.
Company car drivers will like the Mercedes, which has the lowest Benefit In Kind bills. If you want to save fuel, then the frugal Audi is hard to beat. The Evoque is thirsty and a pricey company car, while servicing is quite expensive, too.
It’s expensive, but the stunningly styled and well finished Range Rover Evoque feels a cut above its rivals here and is worth the extra. Decent driving dynamics, a practical cabin, lots of kit and strong residuals add to the desirable model’s appeal.
The Audi Q3 boasts surprisingly sharp handling, a smooth and efficient engine, plus a classy interior. It’s not quite as roomy as its opponents in this test, but there’s enough space for most families, and in S line trim it’s pretty well equipped.
Look past its attractive price and decent running costs, and the case for the Mercedes GLA falls apart. Not only is it hobbled by an unrefined engine, but it’s also missing rivals’ tough SUV styling cues. It feels like a normal A-Class behind the wheel.
|Range Rover Evoque eD4 Pure||Audi Q3 2.0 TDI||Mercedes GLA 200 CDI SE|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||29,205/£30,795||£28,350/£32,640||£27,300/£32,050|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£17,143/58.7%||£15,706/55.4%||£14,032/51.4% £13,268|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£1,277/£2,554||£1,296/£2,591||£1,578/£2,630|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£2,072/£3,453||£1,542/£2,570||25/£383/C/£30|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||29/£413/E/£130||18/£398/E/£130||£24pm|
|Servicing costs||£499 (5yrs/50k)||£16pm|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/2,179cc||4cyl in-line/1,968cc||4cyl in-line/2,143cc|
|Peak power||148/4,000 bhp/rpm||138/4,200 bhp/rpm||134/3,400 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||380/1,750 Nm/rpm||320/1,750 Nm/rpm||300/1,400 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6-spd man/FWD||6-spd man/FWD||7-spd auto/4WD|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||54 litres/foam||64 litres/space-saver||50 litres/foam|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||575/1,445 litres||420/1,325 litres||481/1,235 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||11.3 metres/0.35Cd||11.8 metres/0.32Cd||11.8 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (unltd)/3yrs||3yrs (60k)/3yrs||3yrs (unltd)/4yrs|
|Service interval/UK dealers||15,000 (1yr)/130||Variable (1yr)/121||Variable (1yr)/136|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||20th/15th^||12th/23rd^||9th/12th^|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.8/9.7 secs||9.7/9.3 secs||9.3/9.3 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.2/7.0 secs||4.2/6.9 secs||3.5/4.0 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th||8.4/12.3 secs/N/A||9.4/13.2 secs/N/A||6.0/7.9/10.5 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||112mph/1,800rpm||126mph/1,900rpm||127mph/1,900rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||67/48/61/68dB||69/54/63/69dB||71/46/61/71dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||35.8/7.9/425 miles||48.1/10.6/677 miles||47.0/10.3/517 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||211/133g/km/22%||157/137g/km/23%||161/119g/km/19%|
|Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control||No/yes/yes||No/yes/£225||Yes/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/yes/yes||Yes/part/£260||£2,365*/no/£300|
|Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go||Yes/£900/£500||£525/yes/£425||£575/£1,345*/no|