For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi Q3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Mercedes GLA has only front height-adjustable seat belts.
Both the Q3 and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive and blind spot warning systems.
The Q3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).
The Audi Q3’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the GLA’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Q3 has a standard 140-amp alternator. The GLA’s 115-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Q3’s reliability 31 points higher than the GLA.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 11th in reliability, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2017 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi fourth in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 17th.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi Q3 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The GLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Q3 has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 250’s standard fuel tank (16.9 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Q3 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 45 AMG’s standard fuel tank (16.9 vs. 14.8 gallons).
For better traction, the Q3’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GLA (255/40R19 vs. 235/45R19).
The Q3’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (57.2% to 42.8%) than the GLA’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the Q3 more stable handling and braking.
The Q3 Prestige Quattro handles at .85 G’s, while the GLA 250 4MATIC pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
For greater off-road capability the Q3 has a 1.9 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLA 45 (6.7 vs. 4.8 inches), allowing the Q3 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Q3’s minimum ground clearance is 1.4 inches higher than on the GLA 250 (6.7 vs. 5.3 inches).
The Q3 has 2 inches more rear headroom, 4 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.
The Q3 has a larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (50.3 vs. 43.6 cubic feet).
Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Q3 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The GLA doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The Q3 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GLA doesn’t offer headlight washers.
Insurance will cost less for the Q3 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Q3 will cost $205 less than the GLA over a five-year period.
The Q3 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Q3 will retain 50.35% to 51.86% of its original price after five years, while the GLA only retains 47.55% to 48.79%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Q3 is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the Q3 than the GLA, including $111 less for a water pump, $178 less for an alternator, $106 less for front brake pads, $15 less for a starter, $233 less for fuel injection, $138 less for front struts and $204 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi Q3 will be $903 to $9866 less than for the Mercedes GLA.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi Q3, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLA isn't recommended.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Q3 third among small premium suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GLA isn’t in the top three.