Question Of The Day: Who Will Win The Luxury Compact Crossover Sales Race?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
question of the day who will win the luxury compact crossover sales race

With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market.

Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable segments for OEMs. Take some normal car underpinnings, add a bit of cladding, a higher ride height and a two-box body and all of a sudden, you can charge a hefty premium over what you’d normally have to sell a sedan for. And what better way to lower your CAFE rating than to sell a ton of “light trucks” that get the kind of fuel economy that you’d normally find in a compact or mid-size car? These little trucklets/wagonlets are going to float the ability of the German brands to keep making AMG, M and RS cars by keeping things kosher with the Feds. Remember that when you bemoan the lack of wagons on sale today.

Audi’s Q3 starts at $33,325, versus $29,900 for an A3, though the Q3, unlike the A3, does come standard with AWD . The Q3 is front-drive, but it does have a 2.0T engine, unlike the A3’s 1.8T mill. A Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $32,225 for a front-drive model versus $29,900 for a front-drive CLA. The one wildcard is the BMW X1, which is both rear-wheel drive and $30,900, making it the cheapest BMW in the entire model range.

I’m going to put my money on the Q3 taking the crown, just because Audi is very much the brand of the moment. This segment is a fickle, fashion-driven one, and products live and die by how cool they are. The Audi A3 quickly toppled the Mercedes-Benz CLA from the small sedan sales charts, and this won’t be any different.

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6 of 87 comments
  • Alfisti Alfisti on Jul 29, 2014

    I in the market for a mid size cuv, Is it just me or is there a lack of true mid sizers??? I view the Edge/MKX and RX350 as mid sizers. The Q5, XC60, tiguan, RDX, whatever infiniti is selling etc are all a half class smaller. Step up to the next class (mdx etc) and youre talking 7 seater beast. Is it just me?

    • Dtremit Dtremit on Jul 29, 2014

      I think the issue with mid-size CUVs is that they're not a lot bigger than the compacts, and not a lot cheaper than the three-rows. So the market's limited to people who really want that specific size. That said, there are a few more in that class -- Venza and Murano, at least, and the outgoing Crosstour. The X5 is really about that size, though they cram in a third row if you insist.

  • W.Minter W.Minter on Jul 30, 2014

    I'd bet on the Q3, but the design of the rear shelf is awkard. It's hard, doesn't lift and you can't store it anywhere in the car. Look at the picture in this article: The GLA is truly a smallish car. Same height as a Prius. Yes. No joke. Some inches lower than a Juke. And the Juke is lower than a Soul. Despite the low height road presence is surprisingly good. Looks wider than it is. The first chop top hot rod by Mercedes. The X1 sells well, it's spacious, it's fast, but it's so dated. In my eyes the Q3 could win the race. You don't have to explain that you bought a new luxury euro SUV. And that's what conspicuous consumption is all about.

  • Loki Loki on Jul 30, 2014

    Not even a single mention of the Lincoln MKC? It competes in this segment too...

    • Hreardon Hreardon on Jul 30, 2014

      Loki - Great point. We drove past a Lincoln dealer the other day and they had a beautiful white MKC out front that immediately caught my wife's eye. I think there's a lot of potential with that model if Lincoln markets it correctly. That said, it shows you how little brand awareness they have that the MKC hasn't once come up in this conversation....

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Jul 30, 2014

    My money's on Lexus.