Shortly after five in the morning, motorway service stations are among the most depressing places in the world. We have been on the road long enough for a coffee and gasoline stop. In the tank shop, a black and white vending machine broth, which is proudly called cappuccino, drips into paper cups, outside wisps of fog waft across the stale-lit parking lot. There are also Audi Q5 and M ercedes GLK, with crackling engines. Almost 300 kilometers to the mountains.
The strength of both SUVs lies on long journeys
The long route, not the rugged terrain, is the domain of the two SUVs. This is shown by their light off-road equipment without gear reduction. During the Mercedes GLK at least one package Offers underride protection, special ESP and accelerator pedal characteristics, adapted switching points of the automatic system as well as hill descent assistance, can be found for the Audi Q5 order things like a leather-covered center armrest, but nothing to support permanent all-wheel drive. Audi lends it a rear-bias for the benefit of driving dynamics, with 60 percent of the drive power flowing to the rear axle. With the 4-Matic of the Mercedes GLK the imbalance falls by 45 to 55 percent a little lower, but when it - like the test car - comes with the sports package including a 20 millimeter lowering of the body, it is done with greater off-road ambitions. But not with comfort.
Mercedes GLK with a thirsty engine
Despite 19-inch wheels - part of the sports package - it doesn't give up its good suspension manners. While the tightly tuned Audi is stucking over transverse joints, the GLK chassis with selective dampers (soft when driving straight ahead, tight in curves) gently takes away bitter blows, ironing out long waves neatly. The drive of the Mercedes GLK (the Mercedes GLK in the top test ). In May, the 231 hp V6 changed its name from 280 to 300. Otherwise unchanged, the three-liter engine remained cultivated at a constant speed, but too thirsty and not very vehement. More clearly than the slight differences in the measured values would suggest, it falls behind the Audi Q5. The hesitant draft bothers as well as the howling noise at high speeds. Mercedes forcibly connected the engine with the seven-speed automatic. The much-vaunted transmission ensures the highest level of shifting comfort here, too, changing gears gently and prudently. There is no need for manual intervention, as the automatic system does not appreciate it very much anyway. Sometimes the driver has to pull the shift paddles several times, even in manual mode, until he agrees to change gears.
Optional sports seats in the Audi Q5 are recommended
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in the Audi Q5 does not allow itself such stubbornness. Shift paddle flippers are implemented seamlessly and without jerks. Only when maneuvering does it tangle between reverse gear and first. In automatic mode, it reacts more calmly, uses the force of the 350 Nm, which the snappy, appealing turbo four-cylinder has ready from 1,500 rpm, lets it pull through in high gear. Even at high engine speeds, the not exactly economical two-liter remains cultivated - robust in tone, but neither booming nor vibrating. The fact that the Audi Q5 is a very talented touring car on the long journey into the mountains despite the stiff suspension is due to its optional sports seats. They support the back better than the narrowly cut Mercedes seats, where the stop for the annoying sticker purchase at the Austrian border does not seem to be an uncomfortable way to stretch muscles.
The Audi Q5 behaves like a normal sedan
The Audi Q5 also accommodates rear passengers more comfortably with its wide, more pleasantly padded rear bench, better space and a more airy feeling of space. In addition, its standard cargo space is larger and more variable thanks to the rear bench seat that can be moved at an additional cost and the folding front passenger backrest. The last 100 kilometers are barren, then it's on pass roads, the serpentines of which wind up the mountains like spiral stairs. Now the Audi Q5 benefits from its more dynamic chassis setup. It cannot hide its high center of gravity and the inertia of its mass, but otherwise drives almost like a normal limousine.
The Mercedes GLK is more relaxed than the Audi Q5
It steers precisely into corners - even in the dynamic steering sports program (1,300 euros including three modes) excessively toxic -, remains neutral for a long time. The ESP only takes effect late in the sportmoderating a. The Mercedes GLK is essentially much more relaxed, less jittery. A cruiser, not a ripper. Despite the sports package, he is not aiming for wild curve scratching. In addition, its steering from the central position responds too late and undermines the feedback with too much power assistance. The GLK leans more to the side in bends and gives in to understeer earlier. The conservatively coordinated ESP regulates early and carefully. Everything is quite harmless, but because the Mercedes GLK cannot be navigated as precisely as the Audi Q5, but rather needs more space, it falls slightly behind in the driving safety rating. Even in a typical Mercedes domain, the safety chapter, he cannot catch up with the points. Both opponents delay steadfastly at a high level and can be served without distraction except for the smallest details.
More CO2 emissions from the Mercedes GLK
Unlike Audi, Mercedes does not offer its small off-road vehicle with optional safety elements such as lane departure warning and lane change assistant - one unusual decision by a company that otherwise sees itself as a technology leader in the field of security. There is little to celebrate with the environmental rating. Because of its high consumption and the consequently low level of contemporary CO2 emissions, the Mercedes GLK falls significantly behind the Audi Q5. Although this is not exactly one of the environmentally friendly cars, it blows as much CO2 per kilometer as two 99 gram Golfs. But those who prefer to order almost 1.9-ton SUVs not with a diesel engine but with a gasoline engine will not be disturbed by this, nor by basic prices of 45,000 euros.
Both SUVs are well equipped as standard
After all, both manufacturers equip the SUV appropriately as standard, whereby the Audi Q5 comes with a large number of special equipment that the Price list broken down to ten and a half A4 pages, individualized even more extensively and made more expensive than the Mercedes GLK. The fog is moving uphill from the valley - time to go home. There are a few hundred kilometers ahead of us, a couple of cups of cappuccino from the machine and a couple of hours of driving, during which the big difference in points between the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLK disappears on a question of character: the Audi Q5 driver arrives faster, the one in the Mercedes GLK more relaxed.