BMW X5 VS Audi Q7
- Great new interior
- No price rise on 30d
- Loaded with tech
- Pricey seven seat option
- Warranty starting to look short
- No spare tyre
- Cabin is super practical
- Proper third-row seats
- Strong diesel engine
- A little expensive compared to rivals
- Updated model due soon
- Not exciting to drive
It took decades to catch on, but Range Rover eventually inspired German carmakers to look outside big sedans to satisfy luxury car buyers. When BMW introduced its first SAV - Sports Activity Vehicle - the X5, the outrage was palpable. Nearly two decades later, the X5 is as indispensable to the BMW oeuvre as the 3 series.
The X5's sales statistics have been impressive, with 55,000 sold in Australia since 2001, and each generation outselling the previous one.
The fourth-generation X5 has arrived in Australia, with two diesels now and a petrol arriving early in 2019 before four-cylinder, plug-in hybrid and the head-butting X5 M arrive over the next year or two.
The G05 X5 is bigger, better-looking and loaded with new technology.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
The Audi Q7 disappeared from sale for a while. You mightn’t have noticed it, but the brand certainly did, with sales slumping over a 12-month period because the regular Q7 models were unavailable to purchase.
The company pulled all of its non-SQ7 variants from sale in October 2018, and they only arrived back on sale locally in August 2019. That meant a sales slide of about 40 per cent. And what a time to have a slide, too…
There have been new versions of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Lexus RX and VW Touareg all released in the past year or so, and that has rubbed a bit of salt into the sales wound for the Audi Q7. Not even the all-new Audi Q8 has helped out that much in terms of sales.
The reason for the stop-sale was because of emissions. Or, more correctly, emissions management. The AdBlue system required an overhaul because it didn’t meet requirements, and that lead Audi Australia to remove the Q7 from sale for the best part of a year. If you’re not sure what AdBlue is, it’s a urea-based solution that breaks down harmful nitrous-oxide exhaust gas into nitrogen and oxygen.
Audi Australia has moved to correct the sales slide now, with the Q7 45 TDI and 50 TDI models back in the line-up. These versions have been reintroduced before a facelifted model arrives in the first half of 2020, but we thought we’d see how this version stacks up.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
The M50d is the more dynamic drive, but the 30d is an excellent all-round package, especially if you have the M Sport option pack onboard. The G05 X5 might be bigger but it hasn't lost its sense of driving fun. In fact, I'd say it's more fun than the F15 - it feels lighter on its feet.
What the G05 also has over the F15 is better value - BMW reckons there's an easy $11,000 of extra stuff in the 30d for no extra money and about $15,000 in the M50d for a price rise of about $5000. It feels a lot more luxurious, looks better inside and out and feels super techie.
It's not cheap and out of the two, I'd probably go for the 30d - it's not that much slower and you can spend a few bucks on the extensive options list.
Does the new X5 shape up against the fancy Porsche or the attractive Mercedes?
The current version of the Audi Q7 proves to still be a comfortable and practical luxury SUV for those who value space and versatility.
The heavily updated version coming mid-2020 will no doubt be even better and potentially offer significant spec and safety upgrades, but buyers after a good deal could find attractive prices on the pre-facelift model up until the newer-look version arrives - and they could do a lot worse than to go for it.
The new X5, while bigger in most dimensions, hides its extra bulk well. The extra wheelbase length has improved its proportions slightly and BMW's new design language inside and out has delivered a fine-looking machine. The huge (sometimes chrome) grille is at first a bit hard to take but with time the car grows around it.
The new exterior design features a strong front end, classic X5 profile with a stronger, wavier character line along the flanks. The rear features a new-look set of LED tail-lights and satin finish rather than chrome exhaust tips.
You can tell the 30d from the M50d by the wheel arch extensions (among other things). The M50d's M Sport body kit features a different rear diffuser, side skirts and deeper front spoiler.
Inside is a new cabin that's high on quality with a choice of leather, wood and aluminium trim, including a very nice leather dashboard option. The base leather trim is known as Valcona and you can specify Merino, which is arguably better than the Nappa leather of some rivals. The cars I drove had a very premium feel, the materials a serious cut above the older F15 X5.
One interesting addition is the "Crafted Clarity" glass that comes in the Indulgence package. Obviously going for a very exclusive feel, the start stop button, shifter, volume control and rotary controller have a funky glass application. It could have looked awful but somehow it looks lifted from a Rolls-Royce and works really well.
The Audi Q7 first went on sale in this shape in 2015, so the design isn’t exactly fresh. In fact, there’s a heavily facelifted model coming in the second quarter of 2020, and it looks a lot more modern and aggressive, with a few harder edges and more off-road inspiration to its look.
But the current one has aged well, with nice lines running front to rear, and the seemingly ever-present S line sporty styling bits to help it have some appeal compared with newer, flashier rivals. This 50 TDI version stepped up to a 20-inch wheel instead of 19s, too.
Its a pretty big thing - dimensions are 5052mm long (on a 2994mm wheelbase), 1968mm wide and 1741mm high - but it carries off its size well. One mum I spoke with said “it doesn’t look big enough to be a seven seater”… How very deceptive, because it’s one of the roomier sever-seat SUVs on the market.
The X5 is a big car and delivers plenty of interior space. Interior images show an expansive cabin, with room for five in comfort. Front and rear passengers score two cupholders in each row, with plenty of storage bins and pockets throughout, including bottle holders and pockets in the doors. The rear armrest's clever folding cupholders liberate space for a phone-stowing tray.
Front passengers have plenty of room in all directions. Rear legroom is improved with the car's longer wheelbase - rear passengers are very well looked after.
The interior dimensions mean larger loads fit easily and if you have the air suspension you can drop the car to the weeds to make loading easier. An electrically retractable cargo cover will reduce the boot space dimensions but hide all your goodies and a set of rubber rails rise 3mm when the car is in motion to secure the load.
Luggage capacity is unchanged with the seats up at 650 litres, almost tripling to 1870L with the seats down.
The third row seat option must be combined with the air suspension, meaning you'll be paying around $7000 for the privilege of occasionally carrying people safely in the boot.
Gross vehicle weight ranges from 3010kg for the 40i to 3160kg for M50d. Turning circle is 12.6 metres and wading depth is 500mm.
You won’t be disappointed if you’re buying an Audi Q7 for its practicality.
It has one of the roomiest seven-seat SUV cabins in this part of the market. Sure, if you go up to a BMW X7 or Mercedes GLS you’ll have a little more room available to you, but in terms of packaging smarts, the Q7 is a bit of a genius.
All Q7 models have electric folding third row seats, which take about ten times longer to raise and lower than conventional pull-tab or handle-operated rear seats, but the room in the rearmost row is excellent.
The second row features 40:20:40 split folding seats with individual sliders, meaning you can tailor the space in the second and third row to suit the size of the occupants you’re carrying. At 182cm I was able to comfortably sit in the third row behind Richard Berry (191cm), with a little bit of second-row slide adjustment. We both had enough head, knee and toe space to be comfortable.
The boot is still big enough with seven seats up that it will fit a pram or two suitcases (if you're into the figures, there's 295 litres of space in this configuration), while if you lower the third row and run the Q7 as a five-seater, there's enough room for a full set of luggage, plus a pram, plus even more (total: 770L).
And the great thing about the Q7 - an element plenty of its rivals can’t match - is that there are so many child seat anchor points! It has five ISOFIX child seat anchor points and top tether points, meaning it’s possible to fit a child seat or baby seat in any of the rear seats. Yep, you could theoretically fit five child seats in here. It might a hassle in practice, but it’s possible.
There are nice comfort and convenience features as well, with plenty of cup holders and bottle holders through the cabin, and air vents to all three rows. There’s even quad-zone air-conditioning to allow different temperatures in different parts of the car.
Up front the Q7 feels pleasant. It doesn’t have the same ‘wow-factor’ as the GLE, nor as clinical as a Touareg. But there’s a nice amount of usable storage space, and the design of the dashboard is nice, even if that pop-up media screen looks a bit dated, especially the sat nav graphics.
The system itself is decent, though the lack of touchscreen capability means phone mirroring tech like CarPlay and Android Auto largely hampered. You have to use the rotary dial to control the screen, which isn’t the way it was designed to be used. If you can overlook that, or if you just prefer to use the in-built media system, then it’s fine.
Price and features
The price list is in RRP and reflects either no change (30d) or a small percentage increase (M50d). A BMW dealer might offer you a drive away price, but how much that will cost you will depend on your taste for options. Our range guide takes in the first three variants of the G05 X5 - the 30d, 40i and M50d. Unlike its British rivals, there is no launch edition.
The 30d ($112,900 plus on-road costs) and 40i ($115,900 plus on-roads) models comparison reveals they're basically the same apart from the motor. If gadgets are your thing, the X5 certainly delivers, even in its unadorned entry-level spec.
Standard features include 20-inch alloys, two-piece power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry via BMW's digital "smart key" (part of the standard comfort access system), push button start (or keyless go), LED headlights, daytime running lights, floor mats (I know!), a basic first aid kit, active cruise control, "2.5-zone" climate control air conditioning, GPS navigation system, front view camera, side view camera, limited self parking, basic tool kit, roof rails, and a front and rear parking sensor setup.
Moving up to the M50d at $149,900 plus on-road costs ($5000 more than before) adds an active M differential, laser headlights, dynamic handling package including adaptive suspension with active anti-roll system, rear-wheel steering, M Sport exhaust and brakes (blue rather than red brake calipers), 22-inch alloy wheels, aero package, M steering wheel, four-zone climate control, heated front seats, soft close doors, and heated and cooled front cupholders.
The new park assist function is particularly clever - if you have driven forward into a tight parking space or difficult garage, the system can remember the last 50 metres and back you out automatically, twiddling the electric power steering while you run the brake and accelerator.
BMW's Operating System 7.0 (the name iDrive appears to be fading) looks after the multimedia and sat nav system. The big 12.3-inch touch screen is mightily impressive. You can control it from the rotary dial controller, use air gestures or by swiping or tapping the screen. The sound system has anything from 10 to 20 speakers with an intermediate 16 speaker setup. There's a subwoofer - actually, there are two - lurking in the back. The system includes Bluetooth and DAB radio with USB connectivity. iPhone owners will be pleased to learn CarPlay is standard, while the rest of the smartphone world will be frustrated - Android Auto isn't available at all.
Colours include Alpine White, Carbon Black Metallic, Black, Mineral White, Phytonic Blue, Arctic Grey and Sunstone Metallic (gold). Curiously absent are silver, red and green and even the brown of past models seems unavailable.
On top of the basic specs, there are additional trim levels - M Sport, Indulgence, xOffroad and Performance Package.
The $4000 M Sport edition for the 30d and 40i includes M Sport brakes, adaptive M suspension, aero package and interior trim changes including an M Sport steering wheel.
The $9500 Indulgence Package adds ventilated front seats, crystal glass on some of the switchgear, heated seats front and rear, front seat massage function, merino leather and on the 30d soft-close doors and heated and cooled cup holder for each front passenger.
The $5000 Performance Package (30d and 40i only) puts you on 22-inch rims, adds an M Sport exhaust and includes metallic paint.
Finally, the $7500 xOffroad package - the first of its kind on an X5 - adds additional off road capability (sand, rocks, gravel etc.), rear diff with diff lock, extra gauges in the infotainment screen, adjustable ride height air suspension and the clever display key. That front and rear air suspension negates the need for a lift kit. Aluminium side steps are optional.
BMW also offers a range of 20 inch alloy wheels, as well as 19 inch and 22 inch rims. The 22s, it must be noted, are not run-flats so you cop a space-saver spare. The xOffroad pack does not come with off road tyres but you can purchase the right ones through BMW. Only 22-inch equipped X5's feature a spare tyre as the tyres are run flats on all other sizes.
The accessories and options list is extensive: Apple CarPlay for iPhone integration, a heated steering wheel, a roof rack setup, darker tinted windows, laser headlights and various other technological and comfort enhancements are available.
Missing from these lists are a seat belt extender, light bar, car phone, xenon, HID or projector lights (you get LED lighting as standard, range-wide!), an auxiliary heater, nudge bar, snorkel, bull bar, winch, self driving, autopilot, CD player, homelink, quad exhaust, television, digital TV tuner, DVD player, cargo barrier, boot liner, carbon fiber trim, MP3 player, a rear seat entertainment system or wifi hotspot.
Where is the BMW X5 built? Spartanburg, North Carolina.
The Q7 line-up starts with the 45 TDI at $102,990 plus on-road costs, while this 50 TDI version is listed at $111,950 plus on-roads.
That puts the Q7 in an interesting spot compared to some rivals. The five-seat-only VW Touareg - which shares a lot with this Audi - is considerably more affordable, starting from $79,490. The BMW X5 range starts at $99,900, and the Mercedes-Benz GLE line-up kicks off at $99,900.
So it’s not the most affordable SUV in this space. But here’s what you get for your money.
The standard equipment list consists of 20-inch wheels, tyre pressure monitoring, a tyre repair kit (no spare), and the standard lighting system is xenon with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights. It has auto headlights and wipers.
Media is covered with a retractable 8.3-inch media screen with touchpad and rotary dial controller, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, DAB digital radio, a 10-speaker sound system and wireless smartphone charging. The system also has the new Audi Connect system (requires a data SIM) and sat nav with available updates.
There’s ‘Cricket’ leather seat trim, electric front seat adjustment with memory settings for the driver, heated front seats, quad-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, smart key and push-button start, smart boot opening with electric tailgate, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch fully digital instrument display for the driver.
There’s a surround view camera and a semi-autonomous self parking system fitted for ease of use, but as for the rest of the safety gear fitted, see the safety section below.
Our car was fitted with an array of packages, including the Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, active lane keeping - $3850), the S line Style Package 4 (LED headlights and dynamic LED tail-lights, privacy glass, S line exterior styling and 21-inch wheels - $4600), the Comfort Package (ambient lighting, electric steering column adjust, rear window sunblinds, brushed aluminium inlays - $3650), as well as adaptive air suspension ($4690), a panoramic sunroof ($3990), gloss black interior finishes ($1600) and metallic paint ($2250).
All told, our Q7 had an as-tested price of $136,850. Did it feel worth that much? Not quite.
Colour options include blue, grey, beige, silver and brown - all of which are optional metallic options - and there’s also two no-cost option paint finishes, which are black or white.
Engine & trans
At launch, you can have any engine size you like as long as you like 3.0-litre straight-sixes. Of course, each has its own specifications to arrive at very different horsepower and torque figures.
The 30d's engine specs are a 3.0-litre turbo diesel developing 194kW of power and 620Nm of torque.
Moving on to the 40i, this is a 3.0-litre twin turbo petrol knocking out 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque. Petrol vs diesel, the latter wins on torque, hands down.
Want even more? The M50d's 3.0-litre diesel has four turbos strapped to it - that's two times two - for a huge 294kW of power and 760Nm of torque.
They're all 4x4 at this stage, fitted with ZF's always-brilliant eight-speed automatic transmission. It is pretty much the best gearbox on the planet and super-reliable. At this stage, all wheel drive is all you get. A rear wheel drive sDrive X5 is likely later down the track in combination with a smaller four-cylinder engine - 4x2 buyers don't tend to want the extra power of the bigger engines.
The oil burners are fitted with a diesel particulate filter to help reduce emissions and the 30d's twin-scroll turbocharger helps improve low-down response. Advanced technology from injector to exhaust ensure diesel engine problems such as black smoke have long since been banished from modern BMW diesels.
The 0-100km acceleration times are impressive - 6.2 seconds for the 30d, 5.5sec for the 40i and 5.2sec for the M50d. The rolling acceleration performance figures of the M50d are epic.
Towing capacity is uniform across the range - you can drag 750kg of unbraked trailer and 2700kg of braked load. Maximum down load on the tow bar is 140kg.
The Q7 50 TDI model we’ve got is the top-spec in the standard Q7 line-up. It shares the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine with the lower-grade 45 TDI, but the 50 TDI has the higher-output engine tune.
This model produces 200kW of power (at 3250-4250rpm) and 600Nm of torque (from 1500-3000rpm). It uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent quattro all-wheel drive. Audi claims the 0-100km/h time for this model is just 6.5 seconds. That’s quick!
If you don’t think you need that, the 45 TDI would likely be perfectly fine. It still has 160kW and 500Nm, an eight-speed auto with AWD, and a 0-100 time of 7.3 seconds.
Both Q7 grades are rated to tow a 750kg un-braked trail or a 3500kg braked trailer. The gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 2940kg, and the gross combination mass (GCM) is 6440kg.
The X5's fuel mileage figures are based on the new WLTP standards which better reflect real-world use.
The 30d's diesel fuel economy is the best of the three initially on offer at 7.2L/100km. If you want your fuel consumption km/L, that's around 14km per 1000mL.
The petrol consumption figure on the 40i is the highest figure of the three at 9.2L/100km (or 10.9km/L).
Moving on to the M50d, for all that extra power and torque, the increase over the 30d is just 0.3L/100km to 7.5L/100km (13.3 km/L).
Fuel tank capacity differs slightly between the models - the diesels carry 80 litres while the petrol 40i can carry 83 litres.
The real-world fuel consumption I saw when I took the figures at the pump was 9.9L/100km. Note - I wasn’t hauling seven people around for my test, which included highway, urban and back road driving. Your fuel economy will suffer if you fill all seven seats.
But still, less than ten litres per hundred is a good real-world return.
As mentioned, this model also has an AdBlue tank to help combat harmful exhaust emissions. The tank capacity is 24 litres, which is theoretically enough to last about 14,500km before it needs refilling. Interestingly, the pre-pay service packs for the Q7 include AdBlue top-ups, which is a nice convenience for owners.
On the launch we had the 30d and M50d available, the former with various option packs.
I started with the M50d. Big fast SUVs are pretty common these days but little prepares you for the quad-turbo thrust from the 3.0-litre straight six. The 294kW/760Nm combination means you cover ground very quickly indeed, especially in the gears. Overtaking the famously large log trucks on the roads of northern Tasmania was easy, the torque slinging me down the road with little effort or fuss.
While the road noise from the tyres is noticeable, you can shut it out with the stereo and wind noise is only apparent above the legal limit. Which I never breached, obviously.
The adaptive drive system, which you can switch for economy, comfort or sport depending on your mood, genuinely affects the M50d's demeanour. With sharper everything, the M diff and rear wheel steering, you can have a lot of fun in the corners. We didn't have variable or active steering on the car and it was just fine without it. The active roll stabilisation is very impressive.
The 30d is a very good unit too. It's really not much slower than the M50d in a straight line but is far more relaxed, of course.
The one with the air suspension was supremely comfortable and quiet, raising and lowering itself depending on speed and conditions. The 30d was very accomplished on the loose gravel surface BMW bravely sent us over once I'd pressed the adaptive switch. The standard underbody protection is clearly very good - barely a ping from the gravel.
On both cars, the steering was a standout - the X4 M40i I came home to had a less than deft setup, with the weight in sport plus set too high. Neither 30d or M50d felt too heavy.
As an xOffroad package wasn't available, we haven't done an off road review. I can, however, guarantee you won't have to get out and operate hub switches.
The Audi Q7 is a comfortable seven-seater. Is it amazing to drive? No. Is it fun? Not really. But does it hit the target for what most people buying this type of car will want? Yeah, it does, mostly.
The air suspension allows for a soft and cushy ride for the most part, though the 21-inch wheels do pick up the sharper edges in the road surface. At highway pace, in either the Comfort or Auto drive mode, the ride is really quite good, while at lower speeds over speed humps it does a fine job, though it’s not exceptionally smooth.
The body control is not quite as good as a Touareg or X5, but better than a Lexus RX or Mercedes GLE. It doesn’t wobble too around much despite being tall and heavy, but nor is it super flat through corners if you’re pushing harder than most parents would.
The steering is light and easy to judge in most situations but can be a little too heavy at lower speeds - like when you’re negotiating multi-storey car parks. Its responsive enough at pace, just not as inspiring or enthralling as some rivals.
The engine is the strongest part of the Q7’s equation. The 3.0-litre V6 has a nice, healthy wad of pulling power in the mid-range, despite a little bit of lag below 2000rpm. There’s effortless grunt for overtaking moves, and it easily has enough power in reserve to get you moving.
The transmission is hard to fault, too, proving smart, smooth shifting and during my time in the car it never made a wrong move.
But it is refined and quiet, without too much diesel clatter, not a lot of wind noise and a hushed amount of tyre rumble, too.
The new X5's significant safety features an airbag count of seven, AEB (auto emergency braking), lane departure warning, lane change warning, blind spot assist, electronic brake force distribution, reverse camera, DSC (sometimes called ESP), reverse cross traffic alert, speed limit assist and information, hill descent control, and a warning triangle (it is a BMW).
If you need to fit a baby car seat, there are two ISOFIX points and three child seat anchor points in the second row.
The X5 range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in late 2018.
The Audi Q7 was crash-tested in 2015 and was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP score as a result.
The Q7 line-up has ‘Audi pre-sense city’ with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection (but not cyclist detection, which is required to obtain five stars under 2019 criteria), blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert with acoustic warning and brake jolt when “critical”. There’s no standard-fit radar cruise control. There are dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags fitted.
There’s also Audi’s ‘Exit Warning System’ that can detect cars and cyclists and warn occupants, plus all models have hill descent control.
As mentioned, the 50 TDI gets a surround view camera, and all models have parking sensors front and rear, plus a semi-automated parking system.
The updated model due mid-2020 is expected to increase the safety gear levels even further.
BMW's warranty remains - resolutely - at three years/100,000km. BMW is adamant that most customers aren't that bothered. Roadside assist is part of the bargain, from a flat battery to a crash. Rust and paint coverage is also included, although I can't say I've heard any complaints or common faults when it comes to recent X5 bodywork.
Like all BMWs, servicing is condition-based, but you can pre-pay your service cost for five years on the basic package for $1995. Service intervals are then set at 12 month/24,000km maximums. You can also increase your maintenance cost coverage with further levels of cover.
BMW now offers a Genius service at its dealerships, showing you through the features if you have any problems or issues working them out. Even the central locking is a bit complex for some - you can configure different settings in the iDrive system.
Reliability issues are seemingly rare on the X5, but you can purchase an extended warranty if any defects or complaints arise after the initial warranty period expires. As the car is brand new, things like automatic transmission problems, transmission failure or other dramas are yet to rear their ugly heads.
The owners manual will no doubt explain things like oil type and capacity. Resale value for the X5 appears strong over the years although the extra value in these new ones might mean some second hand bargains.
Audi’s ownership plans saw a boost in 2019, with new pre-pay service plan options rolled out. There is the choice of a three-year plan for the Q7, which is priced at $2310, or five-year cover that’ll set you back $3120. Servicing is due every 12 months/15,000km, and you’ll be covered for oil change, filters, brake fluid, AdBlue, remote batteries and more.
Audi backs its models with a three-year roadside assist plan as part of its warranty cover, as well as three years of map updates for the sat nav.
At the time of writing, eligible Q7 models are being sold with a nice little value enhancement - a five-year/75,000km servicing plan included at no cost, as well as five years of roadside assist.
Got concerns about issues, problems, faults, recalls or other common complaints? Check out our Audi Q7 problems page.