Published: 04:06 EDT, 16 May 2017 | Updated: 04:14 EDT, 16 May 2017
Competition is fierce in Britain’s £40,000 mid-size SUV sector.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is storming ahead in sales and the Mercedes GLC is proving increasingly popular as well.
And now with an all-new version of one of the cars that helped make this sector so popular in the UK, the Audi Q5, it's time for a hotly-anticipated triple test.
Here, What Car?'s testers have brought us the four-cylinder turbodiesel versions from each together for a face-off.
Triple test: Land Rover Discovery Sport, left, Audi Q5, centre, and Mercedes GLC
What are they like to drive?
The Merc’s is marginally the biggest engine, with the most power, and the quickest acceleration.
Pity the noise it makes in press-on mode is so dieselly and unpleasant; the Audi isn’t far behind in terms of acceleration, but is much the more refined and pleasant in both everyday use and in-a-rush driving.
Let’s hope Discovery Sport drivers are not in a rush. This is by far the slowest engine here, and also a gruff-sounding thing when you work it as hard as you often need to.
Load its seven seats up – that’s two more than the others – and it may genuinely start to struggle. Most unexpected from a modern premium SUV.
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It’s a car called Sport that’s not sporty to drive, either. The Land Rover leans more than the other two, and shows little eagerness for corners.
Not like the agile Audi, although it would be nice for a bit more feedback through the Q5’s controls – same goes for the GLC here. For all its lack of twisty-road enthusiasm, the Discovery Sport does at least have precise steering.
We’re not sure why Land Rover offers 20-inch wheels on the Disco Sport, because they ruin the ride. Even the Audi, which was on sports suspension, was smoother; the GLC had optional air suspension and rode beautifully, although experience suggests the standard AMG Line models without air aren’t anything like as good.
The Audi's infotainment system uses a rotary controller between the front seats
The Mercedes has a similar interface to the Audi, but nowhere near as user-friendly
The Discovery Sport has precise steering, but it's not sporty to drive, plus its infotainment is touchscreen
The SUVs compared inside
Want the most practical machine here? Don’t bother looking at anything else but the Land Rover. It’s wide and roomy inside, hugely practical and a flexible family-friendly hero.
The other two aren’t exactly cramped, even for six-footers in the rear, but they lack the sheer multi-purposefulness of the Land Rover.
The Audi fights back with breathtaking interior quality and finish that’s almost the equal of the luxury Q7 SUV, although the others are still upmarket – yes, even the Land Rover.
The Audi has a superb infotainment system, which uses a rotary controller between the front seats. The Mercedes has a similar interface, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly.
There’s no physical controller in the Land Rover, which prefers touchscreen interactivity instead. It’s a smart and far nicer system than the firm’s previous efforts, although it would be nice if the widescreen Pro version of the test car wasn’t so expensive – it’s a £1,900 option.
How much will they cost to buy?
If you’re undecided which one to buy once you get to the dealer stage, there’s initially no one clear winner. Post-discount, they all cost within £800 of one another - for the full prices see the boxes below.
Dig deeper though, and differences emerge.
Over three years, for example, the GLC costs at least £2,500 more than the others to run, because of heavy depreciation and expensive servicing.
The Land Rover, meanwhile, is the most expensive per month on a PCP finance deal, at £583 – the Audi is a comparable hero here, costing £516 a month.
They are all similarly well-equipped though, and although it’s not yet been tested, we expect the Audi Q5 to easily earn a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating to match the others.
Most practical: Land Rover is wide and roomy inside and a flexible family-friendly hero
Which luxury medium SUV comes out on top?
An interesting triple test, then, between cars all with their own areas of strengths.
First to fall is the Mercedes. It’s not a bad car, but the real-world issues of heavy depreciation, fiddly infotainment and practicality that’s not a match for the class best means it trails the others.
The Land Rover has previously been the regular winner in such tests, but not anymore. The new Audi Q5 has finally toppled it.
If the Discovery Sport were quicker and a bit cheaper to finance, it would still be in with a shot – while it remains a five-star car whose clear advantages in practicality remain, the Audi is the better all-rounder overall.
Simply put, the new Q5 is a car without major flaw, a super all-rounder that simply oozes buyer appeal in this sector.
And the winner is... Audi Q5 2.0 TDI 190 S line
Rated 5 out of 5
Specifications: Audi Q5 2.0 TDI 190 S line (5 stars)
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £40,290
Target Price £38,644
Torque 295lb ft
Top speed 135mph
Official fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 emissions 133g/km
Second: Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 180 HSE
Rated 5 out of 5
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £41,720
Target Price £39,436
Torque 317lb ft
Top speed 117mph
Official fuel economy 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions 139g/km
Third: Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 d AMG Line
Rated 4 stars out of 4
Engine size 2.1-litre diesel
List price £41,025
Target Price £38,755
Torque 184lb ft
Top speed 114mph
True MPG 50.2mpg
Official fuel economy 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions 114g/km
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-4507400/New-Audi-Q5-vs-Land-River-Discovery-Sport-Mercedes-GLC.html
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