The SUV is the most popular body style in the world today. Mass-market automakers and niche luxury automakers alike have launched a range of SUVs in the last few decades and one of the most popular segments in the Indian context is the entry-level compact luxury SUV segment. The likes of the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3 successfully gave both automakers a huge jump in sales figures and that was also the case with the Mercedes-Benz GLA. And now yet another premium automaker has launched an entry level compact Luxury SUV in India, the Volvo XC40. So how will it stack up against its more established rivals? Well, we put these cars up against each other and judge them under five specific criteria to see which one comes out on top. These will be exterior design, engine, performance and NVH, interior space, interior design and features and finally, price. So read on to know more...
Also Read: Volvo XC40 India Launch Live Updates
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Exterior Design
So lets start with the obvious. Each one of these entry level luxury SUVs takes on design from a different angle. The Audi Q3 has been with us since 2012 and has had not one but two midlife facelifts and is still a pretty looking car especially in that bright shade of red. Amongst the four here Mercedes-Benz GLA brings the most crossoverish appeal and while it looks great in an urban setting, we do think the shape might not age very well. We do however like the brushed aluminum finish touches on both these SUVs, especially in the grille and skid plate elements.
Also Read: Volvo XC40 Review
And then we come to the Bimmer. The BMW X1, especially in this spec we have here looks quite menacing. Now that is partly because of the all-black paintjob but it is also due to the fact that this is the top of the line M-Sport package. So you get a set of sporty bumpers and a side skirt and yes, that set of super sexy 18-inch alloy wheels.
Also Read: Mercedes-Benz GLA Review
But while the BMW does look quite kickass in terms of design, the Volvo is the one that will guarantee turned heads. What a simple yet elegant piece of design this is. From the shoulderline that chinks upwards and onto the C-pillar to the two tone design - especially on this R-Design package, to the large grille and the LED headlamps, it wins this battle.
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Interior design and features
There is no point dilly-dallying around the point. Lets start with what we think is the winner in this segment and all by a comfortable lead too. Yep, it's the Volvo XC40. That large touchscreen pretty much seals the deal and even though it has its quirks like the fact that you have to take your eyes off the road to change settings on the climate control, it is still by far the coolest of the lot. And its not just the touchscreen though, its also the attention to detail that really floats my boat and the Volvo has a long list of cool little touches scattered around.
As compared to the Volvo, everything else in this segment looks a little outdated. Sure, the BMW gets the driver's centric dashboard and fantastic quality but with the amber lighting and the traditional analogue instrument cluster, it just looks a little dated. And so does the Audi. With a manual flip down screen, analogue instrument cluster on this one too and a very outdated user interface, it just doesn't cut it anymore. The Mercedes-Benz on the other hand does have a little bit of flash with that silver dashboard inset and the i-Pad like screen but still, when compared back to back, the Volvo still takes the cake. Another battle win to the Swede then.
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Interior Space
All four cars compared here come with large panoramic roof options that add to the airiness of the cabin. But afterall, it still is how much actual space you can squeeze out of these platforms. Lets start with the two smallest cars here. And unsurprisingly, it is again the Mercedes-Benz GLA and the Audi Q3. Both cars feel a little cramped at the rear and the Mercedes's smaller glasshouse adds to the shortage of space at the rear. The Volvo in this case actually isn't the most spacious of the lot even though it is the newest car here. While it does have good legspace and headroom, it is actually the BMW X1 that wins this battle. Not only is there more space though, there is also a lot more window area to ensure you never feel claustrophobic. And to add, it also has the most comfortable rear seat - a rare sentence of praise for the BMW!
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Engines, performance and NVH levels
While diesel is still the go-to engine for most luxury cars in India - especially luxury SUVs, it is prudent to say that both the Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA offer a petrol motor in India. The petrol Q3 gets a 1.4-litre TSI engine that makes 148 bhp and 250 Nm of peak torque whereas the GLA petrol gets a 2-litre turbocharged engine that makes 181 bhp of peak power and 300 Nm of peak torque. Both these engines are refined and cater to a very small niche (in what is already a niche audience) of buyers that want a very traditional quiet luxury car.
But as we mentioned, diesels are more popular. So here are the specs first and remember, all these cars are available either with a lower spec front wheel drive or a fully loaded all-wheel-drive version. The BMW X1, the Audi Q3 and the Volvo XC40 all get a 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine while the Mercedes-Benz gets a slightly larger 2.1-litre motor.
The BMW is the most powerful of the lot here at 188 bhp and 400 Nm while the Volvo comes in a very very close second with 187 bhp of peak power but an equal 400 Nm of peak torque too. The Audi is third at 184 bhp and 380 Nm of torque while the Mercedes-Benz is the least powerful here at 168 bhp and 350 Nm. And to be frank, the figures on paper do transfer to the performance on tarmac too. The BMW feels the best to drive - especially if you like to drive in a slightly more spirited way. And while the others - especially the Volvo, do have the power under the bonnet to match the BMW, toe-to-toe, the BMW out punches all its rivals.
It is a slightly different story when it comes to NVH levels though. While the Germans do have a penchant for attention to detail and blocking out outside noises, the obsession with which the Volvo gives you a concealed cabin is worth a mention here. That said, the BMW isn't far behind when it comes to in-cabin NVH levels too which is why it wins this battle too.
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Prices
And so we come to pricing, which even at this level can actually mean the difference between the customers choosing your car over your competitors. Volvo has announced that the XC40 will be available at an introductory price of ₹ 39.99 lakh. The BMW X1 is the most expensive of the lot with prices ranging from ₹ 34.50 lakh - ₹ 44.5 lakh (ex-showroom). The Q3 is the next in line priced at ₹ 34.70 lakh for the petrol and ₹ 36.5 lakh - ₹ 42.88 lakh for the diesel. The Mercedes-Benz GLA on the other hand is the most affordable of the lot with prices for the petrol variant at ₹ 33.70 lakh and the diesel ranging from ₹ 31.7 lakh - ₹ 38.00 lakh (ex-showroom).
|Petrol Price (ex showroom, India)||Diesel Price (ex showroom, India)|
|Volvo XC40||NA||₹ 39.90 lakh|
|BMW X1||NA||₹ 34.50 lakh- ₹ 44.50 lakh|
|Audi Q3||₹ 34.73 lakh||₹ 36.53 lakh- ₹ 42.88 lakh|
|Mercedes-Benz GLA||₹ 33.77 lakh- ₹ 80.67 lakh||₹ 31.72 lakh- ₹ 38.03 lakh|
Volvo XC40 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes-Benz GLA vs Audi Q3: Verdict
The Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA are both due for a replacement very soon as they are both quite deep into their life cycle. The Q3 in particular is getting quite irrelevant in this segment as it just doesn't have the firepower to take on the rivals and honestly, with its crossover-esque design, the once benchmark Mercedes-Benz GLA falls short too. So it's a two horse race, the BMW or the Volvo. If you want a driver's car, you need to read no further - just buy the BMW X1. But as an overall package for the individual who likes driving, being driven and more importantly being pampered in a real level of luxury and not just luxury because of a badge, the Volvo XC40 is the new benchmark in this segment and our choice in this entry level premium compact SUV segment.