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Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 – which is best?

German car brands have been locked in competition for years, but the rivalry between the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5 is one of the fiercest.

Family SUVs like these are some of the most popular – and profitable – models in their respective lineups, so they need to be bringing their A-game here.

We've driven the GLC and Q5 back-to-back to highlight the pros and cons of each model. Mercedes launched a new GLC towards the end of 2022 but these aren't common on the used market, so we're looking at its widely available predecessor. Find big discounts over the list price on either model by buying or financing one as a used car from Motorpoint.

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 compared

Mercedes GLCAudi Q5


  • Interior a fraction more posh
  • Strong residuals mean competitive PCP rates


  • A touch more spacious
  • Dashboard is easier to use


  • Ride quality isn't perfect
  • Question marks over interior quality


  • Cabin design is uninspiring
  • Just like the driving experience

Styling and design

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 front
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

These are the midpoints in each brand's SUV range. They lack the sheer visual mass of larger cars such as the Mercedes GLE and Audi Q7, but still feel like sizeable cars with an imposing presence – not least thanks to their massive truck-like front grilles.

As mentioned, the GLC has recently been updated with an all-new model, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell from the outside. Both older and newer GLCs feature a wide grille with the Mercedes badge flanked by thick metal strips, ahead of bodywork with subtle bonnet bulges and creases for a muscular edge.

The Q5 also bears obvious hallmarks from the rest of the Audi lineup. Its broad grille, angular headlights and faceted bodywork clearly position the car halfway between the smaller Q3 and larger Q7, and takes very few risks with the Audi design language along the way.

Ultimately, neither the GLC or Q5 are show-stoppers. Instead, they exemplify the careful, conservative approach both brands take with their styling.

Interior and practicality

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 interior
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

Step inside these SUVs and you'll find features, trim and switchgear borrowed from other cars in their lineups – with more than a little Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 in the GLC and Q5 respectively. Again, this is no bad thing – quality is generally high and readily justifies these cars' price tags – but neither is there much here to truly excite the senses.

The GLC looks a little posher inside. There's a big, sweeping centre panel made from wood or piano-black trim that rises up to meet eyelet-style air vents, plus plenty of leather and metal touch points to underscore its premium billing. You do, however, hear very occasional creaks from trim pieces here or there if you happen to press on them. It's nowhere near bad enough to undermine the Mercedes' interior experience, but doesn't feel quite as rock solid as we've come to expect from cars wearing three-pointed stars.

Moving to the Q5's cabin – it looks and feels a little darker in here than in the GLC, with a little more black panelling than we'd like to see. There are flashes of aluminium to break it up a little, however, and it definitely feels expensive enough to compete in this segment. We actually prefer the Q5's dashboard for usability. The physical climate controls are more intuitive than the Mercedes', and the infotainment system has clearer graphics that are easier to interpret at a glance.

Practicality is near enough a dead heat between these two SUVs. Crack out the measuring tape and you'll find rear passengers have a touch more space in the Q5, but you'll be measuring the difference in millimetres. Both cars have the same 550-litre cargo capacity – plenty for families or pet owners – but we found access to the Q5's boot is a fraction easier and the overall shape a hair more useful.

Engines and performance

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 driver's dials
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

Lesser engines from the Mercedes and Audi lineups are omitted from the GLC and Q5 lineups – these larger cars need a decent slug of horsepower to get up to speed comfortably. As a result, there aren't any slow or underpowered models in either range, so you can choose the fuel option – petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid – that best suits your needs.

Diesel engines are popular in both ranges thanks to their hearty low-down torque, which gets you off the line effortlessly. All models are automatic only, which makes it even easier to get them up to speed. The seven-speed DSG automatic on four-cylinder Q5 models is a tiny touch more jerky than the GLC at manoeuvring speeds, but the difference is so negligible that you'd only ever notice in a direct side-by-side comparison.

More power is available further up the range. Six-cylinder engine options offer plenty of extra muscle during day-to-day driving, or you can look to the Mercedes GLC 43 AMG and Audi SQ5. These have even more power and a brace of performance parts if you happen to need your family SUV for occasional track driving. Right at the top of the range is the ultra-rare GLC 63S AMG with 510hp and a supercar-baiting 3.8-second 0-62mph time.


Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 side
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

The majority of family SUV buyers aren't looking for thrills behind the wheel and they're certainly not going to find them here. Neither the GLC or Q5 are remotely exciting to drive so, if you ever get any enjoyment while on the road, you might want to consider cars like the Mercedes C-Class or Audi A4, which have a more obviously sporty setup thanks to their lower weight and centre of gravity.

What family SUV buyers are looking for, however, is an easy, comfortable ride – in this regard, the GLC performs reasonably well. It handles its mass and height without any wobbles or waywardness through the steering, and doesn't transmit too many vibrations from rough surfaces. You do feel the car's weight over bigger bumps, though, with a noticeable thud if you hit a pothole that's both felt and heard in the cabin.

The Q5 is a notch better over big bumps, although there's still evident firmness that's necessitated by the car's significant weight. Ride comfort over poor surfaces is essentially the same as the Mercedes and, in both cars, we'd avoid the larger optional alloy wheels to preserve as much compliance as possible. Again, however, there's just not much excitement to be had behind the wheel, so keen drivers should look elsewhere.

Value and reliability

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 rear seats
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

There's little to split these cars when looking at prices. They're both pricier than a comparable saloon or hatchback as a cash purchase, but should hold on to their value for longer because they're desirable brands and desirable market segments. That means you'll pay more in the first place but will lose relatively less during your ownership – this also translates to competitive PCP finance rates with relatively high guaranteed future values.

Compare GLC against Q5 and there isn't much between them. Prices are broadly competitive across the lineups, and you'll find more variation by looking at different ages and mileages than between the two models themselves.

Reliability for both Mercedes and Audi tends to be a mixed bag. Neither the GLC or Q5 suffer from major mechanical issues although both cars are stuffed with technology and features, which means more potential failure points that weigh on their reliability scores in surveys. Keeping up with scheduled maintenance is an easy way to reduce your risk of premature failures, and you can purchase an extended warranty with either car to protect yourself from the cost of unexpected repairs.

Which is best?

Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5 rear three quarter
Mercedes GLC (left) vs Audi Q5 (right)

The best advice here is to pick the SUV you prefer and just buy that one. There's so little between these two cars that your personal preference is likely to play a bigger role in which you like more, rather than any objective differences between them.

We found the GLC just a touch more luxurious in general, with more dramatic cabin styling and more upmarket touches to lift the overall ambience. That said, the 'look' in the Mercedes' cabin isn't quite as nice as the 'feel', with the perceived sense of quality actually feeling a note higher in the Audi. We also think the Q5 rides a hair better over big road bumps – important to note since the GLC and Q5's driving experiences are so dull otherwise.

Check out the savings available by buying or financing a used Mercedes GLC or used Audi Q5 from Motorpoint. Find more tempting options in our list of the best luxury SUVs on sale.