New BMW X3 vs Audi Q5 vs Land Rover Discovery Sport
BMW’s new X3 SUV will have to be outstanding to beat the class-leading Audi Q5 and Land Rover’s Discovery Sport. Let’s see if it is...
Behind the wheel
Driving position, visibility, build quality
It’s wonderful to find positives in life, so it’s our pleasure to report on three restful, easily adjustable driving positions. Each of our contenders gets a wide array of seat adjustments; you have to make most of the adjustments manually on the Q5, but its seat has an extendable squab that you can angle to provide added thigh support, as well as four-way electric lumbar support.
In the X3, a manually adjustable driver’s seat with an extendable squab is also standard, but adjustable lumbar support costs £210 extra. However, our X3 had optional (£830) electric seat adjustment. In the Discovery Sport, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat and lumbar support are standard. When looking to split hairs, this earns it the nod from us.
All have good relationships between their seats, pedals and height and reach-adjustable steering wheels, so you’re aligned naturally when you’re at their helms. Their wide central and door armrests also let you rest contentedly as the hours at the wheel fly by.
The Discovery Sport has the fattest windscreen pillars, slightly hindering visibility through tight corners, but it also has the loftiest seating position of the three. All come with sizeable door mirrors to let you see what’s drawing up alongside, plus standard front and rear parking sensors. A rear-view camera is standard on the Discovery Sport and X3 and a £450 option on the Q5 – handy when backing into snug spaces.
What about quality? After all, these are premium SUVs, so you expect higher standards than in cheaper cars with less sought-after badges. Certainly, you get the plushness you deserve in the Q5. It has the classiest interior, and not just because the materials look and feel great, with squishy plastics on key touch points and aluminium trim to add some extra zest. It’s the details that set it apart, such as the way the switches function; they click so satisfyingly that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been made by Rolex.
Again, you get real aluminium trim in the X3 and the rich-looking plastics on all the key surfaces are bang on the money. It’s just behind the Q5 for fit and finish, but not by enough to drop it a star.
Finally, the Discovery Sport. Now, it’s the oldest car here and feels the most utilitarian, but that’s in keeping with the brand’s rugged image. Does that make it less plush inside? Yes, especially when you notice a few more brittle-looking plastics around the infotainment screen, but it’s still robustly screwed together.