By Emme Hall.
We just love to pit the German cars against one another here at AutoComparison, mostly because we know we can’t lose. Both of today’s vehicles drive more like sport sedans than luxury crossovers, but you’ll be paying the price for such nimbleness. Let’s take a look at the 2013 Audi Q5 3.0T Premium Plus and the 2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i and see which one takes the Auszeichnung (look it up).
The Audi Q5 3.0T rolls of the showroom floor with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 good for 272 horsepower and 295 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to all 4 wheels via the Quattro system and n eight-speed automatic. The Q5 with this 3.0T engine goes from zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds, a very impressive time for this segment. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway, and 21 combined.
Standard equipment on the 3.0T includes 19” wheels, an automatic start/stop system, 8 way power and heated front seats, cruise control, a 10-speaker sound system with CD player, auxiliary audio jack, and satellite radio, Bluetooth and iPod integration, keyless ignition/entry, a panoramic sunroof, and a Multi Media Interface. If you want all the bells and whistles, like navigation, a rearview camera, and (my favorite) a heated/cooled cupholder you’ll have to upgrade to the Prestige trim line. However, you can add the S-line package, which includes performance tires, adaptive suspension, Audi Drive Select, and a sport steering wheel with shift paddles. A rear seat entertainment system is also available.
The Q5 accelerates smoothly off the line and the 8-speed transmission delivers quick shifts. Although the ride is firmer than most luxury crossovers, I never found it uncomfortable. In fact, I preferred a stiffer suspension as the Quattro will definitely keep you planted in the corners and you might find yourself yee-hawing through the twisties more than you should. My only complaint is in the steering. While it is responsive, it just feels very artificial. You never really know what the pavement is doing underneath you, leaving you feeling quite disconnected from the road.
The X3 xDrive35i gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 that produces 300 horsepower and 300 lb/ft of torque. Power gets to all four wheels via an 8 speed automatic transmission. It barely edges out the Q5 in acceleration, scooting to 60 mph is 5.6 seconds. EPA fuel ratings are 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined.
Standard equipment on the X3 includes 18” wheels, cruise control, 8 way power front seats, a 12 speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary input, Bluetooth, iPod integration, a start/stop system, BMW Driving Dynamics Control, and a panoramic sunroof.
It wouldn’t be a BMW if you couldn’t add a variety of pricey packages. The Premium package gets you keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming mirrors, and leather upholstery. Opt for the Cold Weather package if you’d like heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package adds parking sensors and cameras, navigation, and the BMW Assist emergency communications system. Audiophiles will want the Premium Sound package for a 16-speaker surround system with satellite radio. Finally, the Driver Assistance package gives you a lane departure warning system, heads up display, and automatic high beams.
Of course, should you want to enhance your driving pleasure, you can opt for the Dynamic Handling package with a more sensitive speed adjustable power steering and a rear-biased AWD system. The M Sport package gives you the Dynamic Handling plus adjustable suspension dampers, 19” wheels, and an M division sport steering wheel.
The 2013 BMW X3 is one of the most fun cars in this class to drive. Acceleration is quick and the speed sensitive power steering really connects you to the road. The car drives more like a sport sedan, feeling light and nimble and well grounded to the pavement. The ride tends to the firm side, but with the turbo charged 6 cylinders under the hood encouraging a weighty left food, that’s a good thing. And it does all this without sacrificing fuel economy.
The 2013 Audi Q5 3.0T Premium Plus Quattro and the 2013 BMW X3 xDrive35i have near identical starting prices: $43,900 for the Audi and $43,950 for the BMW. However, if you want to upgrade either of these vehicles, be prepared to add at least $10,000 to your starting price. As it stands, the X3 beats the Audi in our test models. Both cars handle great; offer excellent acceleration and relatively decent fuel economy. However, the Audi’s steering is its Achilles heel. The BMW offers a more dynamic and buttoned up steering system, pushing it ahead of the competition.