Audi Q3 vs BMW X1

29 May 2012

Audi Q3 vs BMW X1

Audi Q3 and BMW X1 go head-to-head in this comparative review.

Value

Audi Q3

from $54,500

It gets the basics but you could spend another $50K on options. Standard gear includes Bluetooth and iPod connectivity with audio streaming, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, 17-inch wheels, leather trim, allwheel drive and rear parking sensors.

BMW X1

from $54,900

The X1 matches the Q3 for standard features: climate control, cruise control (with brake function), rear parking sensors, power windows, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch wheels and all-wheel drive. As with the Audi, the sky is virtually the limit when it comes to adding options.

Design

Audi Q3

Audi has finally nailed the look of its SUV range. This is far and way better looking than the rest - and the Q3 is easily the best looking of the four-ringed fraternity. It seems the smaller these things get, the better the design. It feels roomier inside than the BMW and folding the rear seats gives you 1365L of space.  

BMW X1

Parked next to the Audi or not, it's hard to call the X1 attractive. Impossible, in fact. Even if you squint. Get behind the steering wheel and the X1 instantly feels lower-set than the Audi, as if you're in a sedan. Vision is good but there's less headroom in the rear seats and there's less cargo space, too - 420L v the Q3's 460L.

Technology

Audi Q3

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (130kW/380Nm) drives via a seven-speed twin clutch auto and averages 5.9L/100km. The Q3 comes standard with stop-start and brake energy recuperation. You can get tricky infotainment systems or Audi's clever Drive Select but you pay huge money for them.

BMW X1

The X1's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (130kW/350Nm) is mated to a six-speed auto, which is only marginally less smooth than the Audi's seven-speed S tronic. It pips the Audi for fuel efficiency, averaging 5.8L/100km. The BMW gets stop-start technology but it doesn't feel as quick to start-up again as the Audi (we're talking milliseconds) and sounds gruffer.

Safety

Audi Q3

It gets five Euro NCAP stars thanks to six airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners front and rear, ESP with ABS, ASR and EDL, as well as speed-sensitive power steering and quattro all-wheel drive. There are three child-restraint anchor points as well as Isofix mounts.

BMW X1

ANCAP awards it five stars. Its standard active and passive safety equipment includes six airbags, central locking with electronic immobiliser, dynamic brake light, dynamic stability control, ABS, cornering brake assist, traction control, warning triangle and first-aid kit.

Driving

Audi Q3

Sharing underpinnings with the VW Tiguan and Skoda Yeti, the Q3 feels like a premium version of those two. The steering is light but consistently weighted, the ride is the perfect blend of sport and comfort and the brakes are strong. The engine and the S tronic transmission are a super-smooth pairing.

BMW X1

BMW prides itself on building the Ultimate Driving Machine. This isn't it. The steering is quite heavy; it seems BMW has mistaken weight for feel. Luckily it's direct. The ride is knobbly (on run-flat tyres) with squeaks and cabin rattles. The engine has decent oomph, transmission is great and brakes are strong.

Verdict

Audi Q3

BMW X1

BMW claims it created the small, premium SUV segment with the launch of the X1 back in 2010. Well, now it' s been overtaken by the new Audi. It's better looking, roomier, nicer to drive and just feels more premium.

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Published 29 May 2012

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We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.