BMW X1 Diesel AT Vs Audi Q3 Diesel AT

Wednesday 22 Jun 2016, 3:29 PM
Introduction
 
These might seem like entry-level luxury cars on paper, but look at their on road prices that touch nearly Rs 50 lakh, and it’s difficult to see the ‘entry-level’ bit in them. But, to be fair, we have mid level trims on test here. So, both these cars have lesser-priced options too; but then again, a look at the feature list on those lesser offerings, and you’d find it difficult to see the ‘luxury’ in them. Yes, the life of a ‘luxury’ car prospect buyer isn’t as easy as it was.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
So, to make things simpler we have brought along two new entry-level luxury cars in trims that justify the ‘luxury’ tag, and because the SUV fad is still on a rise, we have chosen all wheel drive versions of these road-going SUVs. In the brown corner then, sporting a chrome kidney grille and finally some SUV like proportions is the new BMW X1xDrive20d in xLine trim. In the red corner is one of the most popular cars in its class with proper SUV overtones and a truly bling grille, the Audi Q335TDI in the Premium variant.
 
Now, it’s time to find out, which of the two is the better buy.
 
Exterior
 
As we mentioned, the Audi Q3 can comfortably pass off as an SUV. It has a butch face, large wheelarches and visibly good ground clearance. It also has minimal overhang, a strong SUV attribute. The Q3 has been on sale in India for almost five years now and in that time, it has also seen an upgrade. Little wonder, it still looks decently current even in the face of modern competition like the X1.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
The BMW X1 started out as more of a high riding estate. And it was only available in rear wheel drive configuration. Now, in its second generation, not only does it get all wheel drive, it looks more like the X5s of the world. So, the SUV touch is certainly there. It’s still not exactly butch but the square jaw, large wheel arches, and a strong shoulder line give it a purposeful stance on the road. It looks more modern than the Q3 as well.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
Interior
 
The interiors have been redone on the new X1 too. The dashboard has more layering, there’s better play of materials and apart from the basic iDrive controller, and most things convey ‘luxury’ quite clearly. The Q3’s interiors might look a little dated in comparison, but in terms of quality and operability, it is as good as the BMW. Like the X1, the Audi too has soft grain plastic, rich metal finishes and the touch points on both cars scream engineering prowess.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
There’s little to choose between the two when it comes to features or even interior room. Equipment wise, both get electrically adjustable front seats, multifunctional steering that adjusts manually for reach and rake, two zone climate control systems, driver information systems, nice sounding multi media players and leather. The BMW also gets recline function for its rear seats which Audi counters with a reversing camera missing on the X1.
 
Dimensionally, the new X1 is longer, it sits on a bigger wheelbase and it is taller than the Q3. The Audi though is wider. But, in terms of space inside, the knee room is almost identical, but there’s more shoulder room in the Q3 and more headroom inside the X1. But, the X1 feels more spacious courtesy a larger glass area. The Q3 also has bigger, cushier seats. The ones on the X1 aren’t uncomfortable, but between the two, we’d pick the Audi.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
Performance
 
When it comes to performance though, the new BMW X1 leads. Both cars have near 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engines, but the newer, twin scroll turbo unit on the X1 delivers better output figures. The BMW makes 188bhp compared to 174bhp delivered by the Audi. The X1 also churns out an additional 20Nm of torque over 380Nm produced by the Q3. And though the Q3 gets a dual clutch automatic gearbox, the 8-speed torque convertor unit on the BMW still manages to work better than Audi’s 7-speed ‘box.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
Now both SUVs here come with three selectable driving modes. There’s Comfort, Auto and Dynamic for the Audi and EcoPro, Comfort and Sport on the BMW. And in both cases, the different driving modes alter the response for the steering, the gearbox and the throttle. If performance is your thing, you’d like the Dynamic and Sport on the Q3 and the X1, respectively. And these are the figures you get when tested in these modes.
 
Helped by the engine and gearbox configuration, the BMW is the quicker of the two both under standing start acceleration and driveability in kickdown. The X1 completes the 0-100kmph run in 7.8 seconds compared to 8.3 seconds taken by the Q3. In kickdown, for both 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs, the BMW does prove faster, but only just. The X1 takes 4.8s and 6.3s for the two runs while the Q3 manages them in 5.3s and 6.6s. However, in terms of refinement and cabin noise, the two are pretty much at par.
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel
Drive the two SUVs back to back and one thing becomes crystal clear. The Q3 is more focused towards comfort. It has a more pliant, quieter and absorbent ride. It’s not plush, but compared to the X1’s noisy and crashy setup, it feels better equipped to handle our roads, in the city or otherwise. The BMW is the sportier of the two. It’s quicker, we have seen that, but it also handles better. The steering response is more enthusiast-centric and the X1 feels sharper, more precise and better balanced than the Q3 around bends. The BMW is also more fun when driven hard.
 
Conclusion
 
So there you have it: There’s less than a lakh rupee difference in the pricing of the BMW and Audi; these are also almost equally spacious; and when it comes to serious off-roading with their all wheel drive tech, these are equally useless. But, the Audi, courtesy its seats and ride quality, is more comfortable. And it has a slight edge when it comes to operability. The X1 on the other hand has better performance, better fuel efficiency and better driving dynamics in its favour. To us, it boils to whether one wants a comfortable city SUV with a reversing camera (read the Audi Q3), or a slightly hard edged, more fun to drive car in SUV clothing with reclining rear seats (BMW X1). The choice is yours to make…
 BMW X1 Vs Audi Q3
 BMW X1 diesel Vs Audi Q3 diesel

Pictures: Kapil Angane

 

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