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Audi Q3 vs BMW X1

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

3 stars

VALUE from $54,500

4 stars

VALUE from $54,900

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.

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.


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.

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.

4.5 stars


2.5 starsDESIGN

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.

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.

3 starsSAFETY 4 starsSAFETY

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.

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.

4 starsDRIVING 3.5 starsDRIVING

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 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.
 4 stars
3 stars


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.


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 15 comments

  • Bought a Q3 last year and am just loving it. First time I can say I enjoy driving.

    WorkingMum of ACT Posted on 11 March 2014 2:58pm
  • I agree with both Vic and Sam Had a 4 yr old Tiguan diesel which served us very well Looked at both the Q3 and X1 when it came to trading it in. Ended up getting another Tiguan with a few extras as the X1 is just plain ugly and the Q3 is just a dressed up Tiguan anyway with a $10k extra price tag. PS the other car is an F30 320d. BMW should stick to what they are good at ie sports sedans/coupes

    Shaun of Mackay Posted on 07 December 2013 3:03pm
  • Q3 is awesome but x1 is kind of bad for a bmw as it is known as the ultimate driving machine. i would buy the Q3 of course. but if you want a good car and your wallet isn’t big, you may as well should go for the VW tiguan

    vic of sydney Posted on 04 April 2013 4:30pm
  • Having just test driven an X1 a Q3 followed by a Tiguan, I must say I am disappointed with the Audi and BMW

    It probably looked a lot more premium outside and even more so on the inside from first impression with Q3, you just felt cramped inside the cabin. Surely X1 is even smaller and perhaps sitting quite a bit lower yet again, but at least the driving dynamics are more BMW like. The Q3 has almost no steering feedback but what is worse is its cabin noise… its far noisier than the BMW and even the Tiguan is quieter. x1 also has it shares of problem because it just cannot be a family SUV as it has hardly any storage space. and won’t fit a double stroller (nor would the Audi despite having a longer cargo bay).  It almost sit like a normal car than a SUV should.

    Overall I will not rate X1 nor the Q3 higher or lower than each other, because apart from its premium badge,VW just seemed a better and cheaper car to own.

    Sam Koo of AuCkland Nz Posted on 09 December 2012 5:15am
  • How can someone give points on the basis of Looks? While giving review looks should not be considered, looks depends on individual liking.

    Yatanveer Singh of Hyderabad Posted on 07 November 2012 11:59pm
  • I’ve driven The X1, I feel that this revie is, unfortunately, on the money.  I was hoping the feel and drive would help me overcome the horrid looks… Nope.

    Peter of Australia Posted on 03 September 2012 7:00am
  • All of the commenters here are frankly extremely dim-witted, as MRC clearly has his own very biased BMW opinions as the review was simply calling it like it is, and i simply dont trust anyone that thinks an X1 is anything but looks that are “only a mother could love”, nedlands is straight up wrong as i still think older Audi’s get mixed up with newer ones as to which is newer, thats a fact, and finally but not least importantly, DJCJ, are u willing to put up $50K of your own money to help the general public get into an X5/Q7, and the rest! If you dont need a big SUV-which most dont, this segment is perfectly suited to those who dont ever use their back seat and want that higher driving position for some reason. Having driven both, the Audi is far superior in every category, pleeeease think people before you post and do your homework as i really didnt need to write this if you didnt make me!

    MTQ of 4558 Posted on 30 August 2012 11:14am
  • I find this review a bit biased to the Audi. IMO the BMW is far better looking. The X1 drives like my 3-series (steering feel and all), but with a little under steer and a little bit more body roll. The X1’s I’ve driven are solid and comfortable with no rattles or squeaks (and I HATE those).

    Mrc Posted on 07 August 2012 6:38pm
  • The problem with the Audi is that it will look 10 yrs old when it is 5.  The BMW will look 5 yrs old when it is 10.  Audi’s always look good straight up but age very badly.
    Those who think that a CX5 competes here simply doesn’t get it or has never driven anything else.

    nedlands of Perth Posted on 31 July 2012 10:47pm
  • To be honest - why bother with either of them? Either pay double and do a German SUV properly (ie. X5, ML or Q5/7) or don’t do it at all. If you want the ‘look at me’ badge factor nobody’s stopping you I guess, but if you’re after a car that’s actually better than both for less cash, there are plenty of other options around. The CX-5 is currently selling like hot cakes - there might be a reason why.

    DJCJ of Melbourne Posted on 09 July 2012 11:27pm
  • Hmmm, Audi do design good looking cars (better than VW/Skoda) but I’m still not sold on their SUVs. This one has a blunt nose with a hatch that slopes more than the windscreen - or is that an optical illusion? And it still looks like a sloth - front on - like even the prettiest Audi. But I’m sure this one will grow on me like the X1. As with any German marque I’d be checking out EXACTLY where it was made before driving off in one.

    FixYou of 2000 Posted on 01 June 2012 10:02pm
  • Sorry pep007 - the styling of the X1 just proves that some people will buy any ugly thing if it has a snobby badge on it. I actually laugh each time I see one and swoon to look at the driver that paid all that money for something so hideous…..

    unbiased vision of Melbourne Posted on 01 June 2012 10:02am
  • Buy the New Mazda CX5 and save yourself a load of money plus the possibility of the dreaded arm,leg and name that German Brand if something should seriously go wrong

    franz chong of adelaide Posted on 31 May 2012 2:16am
  • right, From a publication that has always hated the X1 this has real credibilty.. Who cares if ISAAC dosen’t like the look of the X1.

    pep007 of Melbourne Posted on 30 May 2012 4:04pm
  • I agree. Audi have really nailed it with this one. I have seen these Audi Q3s in Europe where they have become incredibly popular. At first I wasn’t sure about the styling, but now it has really grown on me. Classic and chic. Makes the BMW X1, and most other SUVs, look old fashioned and clunky. I wish they were a tad cheaper though.

    George of Sydney Posted on 29 May 2012 11:10pm
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