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Car group tests

Audi Q2 vs Mazda CX-3 vs Mercedes GLA

Audi’s new Q2 is leading a premium crossover charge. Can it see off the upmarket Mazda CX-3 and Mercedes GLA?

Compact crossovers are big business these days, with manufacturers falling over themselves to cash in on this lucrative market. But it’s only recently that premium brands have taken an interest, and the first upmarket model to hit dealers is the Audi Q2.

Underpinned by the VW Group’s versatile MQB platform and borrowing components from the A3 hatch, the newcomer aims to deliver a compelling blend of rugged looks, quality and low running costs. It also features a number of personalisation options, plus it’s available with a choice of petrol or diesel power and either front or four-wheel drive.

However, it’s not the first small SUV to try to break free from the mainstream ranks. The Mazda CX-3 made its debut over a year ago, and instantly had an impact with its sleek style, classy cabin and grown-up driving dynamics. It also impressed with its range of big-car kit and family-friendly versatility.

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• Best crossovers on sale right now

Our joker in the pack in this encounter is the Mercedes GLA. It’s a little bigger and pricier than its rivals in this test, but thanks to a range of tempting finance offers, it’s more affordable than you’d think. So which upper-crust compact model makes the grade here? 

Head-to-head 

Audi Q2

Model: Audi Q2 1.6 TDI SportPrice: £24,030Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 114bhp0-60mph: 10.1 secondsTest economy: 51.4mpg/11.3mplCO2: 114g/km  Annual road tax: £30

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The Audi Q2 represents the brand’s first attempt to crack the compact crossover class. There’s a wide range of engine and transmission options available, and here we test the 1.6-litre TDI in mid-spec £24,030 Sport guise.    

Tester's note: There are plenty of personalisation options for the Audi Q2, and one of the highlights is the LED backlit trim insert that runs the width of the dash. It costs £400 on the SE and Sport. 

Mazda CX-3

Model: Mazda CX-3 1.5d Sport NavPrice: £21,895Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 104bhp0-60mph: 10.0 secondsTest economy: 45.2mpg/9.9mplCO2: 105g/km  Annual road tax: £20

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The Mazda CX-3 was one of the first premium compact crossover models. Combining rugged SUV looks with an upmarket interior and cutting-edge kit, the Japanese-built machine proves that you don’t have to compromise on quality and style when downsizing. There’s a choice of four trim levels, a petrol or diesel engine and either front or four-wheel drive. Here we test the two-wheel-drive 1.5-litre diesel in flagship £21,895 Sport Nav guise. 

Tester's note: Both the 1.5-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol are available with four-wheel drive. Depending on engine choice, you’ll pay up to £2,000 extra for the electronically controlled set-up.

Mercedes GLA

Model: Mercedes GLA 200 d SE DCTPrice: £28,235Engine: 2.1-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 134bhp0-60mph: 9.3 secondsTest economy: 47.0mpg/10.3mplCO2: 108g/km  Annual road tax: £20

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Essentially a jacked-up A-Class compact hatch, the GLA delivers a compelling blend of rugged looks and everyday usability. Like its rivals here, it’s available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, while four-wheel drive comes as an option. Here we test the £28,235 GLA 200 d SE DCT, although the car in our pictures is a flagship AMG Line model. 

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Tester's note: Options on the SE trim models are limited compared with more expensive GLAs, but there’s a £995 Executive pack that adds Garmin sat-nav, heated seats and park assist.

Verdict

First place: Mazda CX-3

This was a close-run contest, but in the final reckoning the CX-3 just takes the win. With smart looks, a classy interior and grown-up driving dynamics, it’s a desirable choice. The Mazda is also very attractively priced, packed with standard kit and really cost-effective to run. It’s not quite as spacious as the Audi, but compensates with strong comfort and refinement.

Second place: Audi Q2

The Q2 came close to victory in its debut test, although it’s let down by its miserly kit, firm ride and cheap-feeling interior finish. Still, there’s lots to like about the Audi. It’s good to drive, roomy and offers a range of personalisation options. It’s also backed by some tempting finance deals. You’ll just need to watch the options to stop the price spiralling out of control.

Third place: Mercedes GLA

Even if you look past the hefty price tag, the Mercedes struggles to compete in this company. It’s the fastest model, has the biggest boot and its cabin oozes upmarket appeal. Yet the gruff engine undermines the car’s otherwise strong refinement, the interior is actually smaller than its rivals’ here and it falls short when it comes to standard equipment.

Is it worth waiting for this model? 

BMW X2

BMW X2 Concept - front quarter

Due: 2018 Price: £25,000 (est)Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

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The ConceptX2 seen at the recent Paris Motor Show hints at BMW’s new X2 compact crossover, due in 2018. It sits on the X1 platform, promises sharp handling and will offer a wide range of engines and two or four-wheel drive. 

Figures

 Mazda CX-3 1.5d Sport NavAudi Q2 1.6 TDI SportMercedes GLA 200 d SE DCT
On the road price/total as tested£21,895/£21,895£24,030/£26,935£28,235/£28,235
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£9,349/42.7%£13,000/54.1%£13,525/47.9%
Depreciation£12,546£11,030£14,710
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£917/£1,834£1,055/£2,190£1,184/£2,367
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,423/£2,372£1,252/£2,086£1,369/£2,281
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£500/B/£2013/£677/C/£3019/£683/B/£20
Servicing costs£499 (3yrs/37,500)£900 (3yrs/30,000)£27p/m (3yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase4,275/2,570mm4,191/2,601mm4,417/2,699mm
Height/width1,535/1,765mm1,508/1,794mm1,494/1,804mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,499cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/2,143cc
Peak power/revs 104/4,000 bhp/rpm114/3,250 bhp/rpm134/3,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 270/1,600 Nm/rpm250/1,500 Nm/rpm300/1,400 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd7-spd twin-clutch/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/foam50 litres/foam50 litres/foam
Boot capacity (seats up/down)287/1,197 litres405/1,050 litres481/1,235 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,200/535/1,200kg1,310/560/1,500kg1,535/485/1,500kg
Turning circle 11.4 metres11.1 metres11.8 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/154 Variable (1yr)/118 Variable (1yr)/147 
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.9th/19th21st/26th12th/20th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars85/79/84/64/4 (2015)N/A96/88/67/70/5 (2014)
    
0-60/30-70mph10.0/10.2 secs10.1/9.8 secs9.3/9.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.1/5.7 secs4.3/6.5 secs3.5/4.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th8.1/11.4 secs/N/A10.1/14.6 secs/N/A6.0/7.9/10.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 110mph/2,200rpm122mph/1,900rpm127mph/1,900rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 55.3/39.0/9.7m51.1/32.3/10.0m48.0/35.3/9.3m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph71/41/59/69dB69/44/61/69dB71/46/61/71dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range45.2/9.9/477 miles51.4/11.3/565 miles47.0/10.3/517 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 64.2/74.3/70.6mpg57.6/68.9/64.2mpg56.5/76.4/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 14.1/16.3/15.5mpl12.7/15.2/14.1mpl12.4/16.8/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket167/105g/km/21%147/114g/km/22%161/108g/km/21%
    
Airbags/Isofix/parking sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/yesSix/y/£350/£1,000^^Seven/y/£675***/y
Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB£2,800^/yes/yesTBC/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£800**/yes£525/£1,300/£300No/yes^^^/£995***
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£550/yes/yes£550/£975/£350£575/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes£495/yes/£420/yes
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