Used test: Audi Q7 vs BMW X5
By buying used you can have either of these luxury SUVs for a fraction of the price you'd pay new. But which should you choose?...
Audi Q7 50 TDI quattro S line
- List price when new - £59,295
- Price today - £41,000*
- Available from - 2016-present
A previous winner What Car? Used Luxury SUV of the Year, the Q7 has always been the consummate all-rounder.
BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport
- List price when new - £60,995
- Price today - £44,000*
- Available from - 2018-present
The X5 offers up a luxurious interior and great comfort, but can it sock it to the Q7 as a used buy?
*Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Buyers of used luxury SUVs are basically after the moon on a stick. They expect an interior that's befitting of a truly upmarket vehicle, yet one that's supremely practical. They demand strong performance, superb refinement and a cosseting ride. And they want to pay substantially less than they would for a new one.
They want something like the Audi Q7, then. This multiple winner of our Used Luxury SUV of the Year award is the very definition of a great all-rounder, because all versions mix seven-seat practicality with limo-like comfort, quality and hush. Bought at a couple of years old, the Q7 is even excellent value.
But is it as good as the BMW X5? The original X5 was the car that kicked off the craze for SUVs that prioritise on-road handling over off-road ability. And, while the latest version isn't quite as sporty as its predecessors, it now offers a much broader range of talents, including outstanding build quality and the best infotainment system in the business.
These cars are both jacks of all trades, then, but which is the master? Read on to find out.
What are they like to drive?
Both cars are powered by 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engines hooked up to eight-speed automatic gearboxes, and they both deliver similar performance, with the fractionally more powerful Q7 just pipping the X5 in the sprint from 0-60mph (6.3sec compared with 6.4).
However, in normal driving, it’s the flexibility of these engines that most 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 this, 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, it never feels floaty or wallowy, either.
Our test Q7 was fitted with the optional-from-new air suspension, which was taken up by well over half its buyers, and is well worth seeking out.
As for handling, both cars have their strengths; the X5 resists body lean better and the Q7 has sharper, more accurate steering and extra grip. On balance, though, it's the Q7 that's slightly better to drive.
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