New BMW X5 vs Audi Q7
BMW’s goal is for the new X5 to be the most complete luxury SUV you can buy. But before it can claim that title, it must beat the Audi Q7...
BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport
List price £60,995
Target Price £60,995
The X5 is back with a more luxurious interior and the promise of greater comfort.
Audi Q7 50 TDI quattro S line
List price £59,295
Target Price £54,419
Our Luxury SUV of the Year is a consummate all-rounder: roomy, comfortable and classy.
If you’ve considered buying a luxury SUV in the past couple of decades, the chances are you’ve considered a BMW X5. It kicked off the craze for sportier SUVs in the late 1990s by prioritising handling, ride comfort and interior luxury over hardcore off-road ability.
It was an inspired idea by BMW – one that other car makers quickly sought not just to replicate but to improve upon. The influx of upmarket, road-friendly SUVs that followed – each with its own USP –included the Volvo XC90 with its flexible seven seats, the Range Rover Sport with its impressive on and off-road capabilities, and the Audi Q7 with its remarkable comfort and refinement. Essentially, a class-leading SUV now has to be a jack of all trades.
Which is why this new, fourth-generation BMW X5 isn’t as focused on sporty handling as its predecessors; it now has a much broader remit. With that in mind, it now benefits from a posher interior, a new infotainment system, air suspension (hopefully providing a plush ride) and a raft of driver aids.
The car the X5 is aiming to beat here is the Audi Q7, our 2018 Luxury SUV of the Year. The Q7 is the definition of a versatile all-rounder and comes with seven seats as standard, unlike the X5.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Both cars are powered by 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engines hooked up to eight-speed automatic gearboxes, and they deliver similar performance, with the fractionally more powerful Q7 just pipping the X5 in the sprint from 0-62mph (6.3sec versus 6.4).
However, on the road, it’s the flexibility of these engines that really impresses. Put your foot down in either car and acceleration builds strongly from very low revs, continuing to do so in a smooth, linear fashion until the gearboxes change up to make best use of that low-down grunt.
In the Q7, you can hardly tell you’re accelerating, so hushed is the engine. The X5’s engine is even smoother (there’s slightly less vibration) but more vocal when you press the accelerator, partly due to the fact that an artificial soundtrack is fed into the interior through the hi-fi speakers. Some will love it, some will hate it. Fortunately, the engine quietens down at a cruise to make the X5 very nearly as refined as the Q7.
There’s certainly nothing contentious about the way the X5 goes down the road. With air suspension fitted as standard, it delivers a smooth and well-controlled ride over even the most battered of surfaces. While it doesn’t quite have the magic carpet ride of the softly sprung Q7 (when the latter is fitted with optional, £2000 air suspension, as our test car was), it never feels floaty or wallowy, either.
The firmer set-up doesn’t really give the X5 a handling advantage, though. In reality, both cars have their strengths – the X5 resisting body lean better and the Q7 having sharper, more accurate steering and more grip. On balance, the Q7 is actually slightly better to drive.
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