The Audi Q5 leads the way for sales in the entry-level luxury SUV models with 11,952 units sold in 2018 in Canada. Behind it, three players compete hard for the number-one challenger spot. The Mercedes-Benz GLC comes in second with 8,982 units sold, just ahead of the Acura RDX with 8,890 and the BMW X3 with 8,296. Now let's see what makes these two German models so popular.
2019 Audi Q5
The Q5 leads the pack in a segment full of very, very strong contenders. Even at the end of its career, before the changes made in 2018, the Q5 was maintaining a comfortable cushion with 2,000 more units sold than its closest rival, the GLC. The SUV’s discreet and efficient style is part of that success. Many people appreciate this non-ostentatious luxury and Audi understands this because each new version brings more quality but still maintains a non-intrusive style.
The popularity of the Q5 is also due to the driving pleasure it delivers, as well as the overall fit and finish of the product. The SUV is not without its flaws, but overall it deserves its reputation.
The Q5 is powered by a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine developing 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Power delivery is provided by a 7-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive system. The SQ5 offers a 3.0L turbo V6 delivering 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
The basic Komfort version features a standard rear-view camera and electric safety locks for the rear doors, while the mid-range Progressiv adds the Audi Connect navigation and infotainment suite.
All Q5 trims include 18-inch wheels, adaptive damping suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, 3-zone automatic climate control, 7.0-inch multimedia display, heated front seats, cellular interface, electric tailgate, satellite radio, auto-dimming rearview mirror and tire pressure monitoring system.
The Progressiv adds 19-inch wheels and tires, 8.3-inch centre screen, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, hands-free tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, Fold-away auto-dimming exterior mirrors, driver's seat memory, colour 7.0-inch driver information display and garage door opener.
Finally, the Technik version adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, panoramic camera, heated/cooled cup holders, a group of configurable gauges for the virtual cockpit, LED headlamps with automatic high beams, enhanced audio system, interior lighting with custom colours, automatic high beams and heated rear seats.
Options include ventilated sport front seats in the Progressiv and Technik models, which can also be dressed in an S-line package with larger wheels and special interior and exterior finishes. Only Technik models can be equipped with active safety features thanks to an advanced driver assistance group that includes adaptive cruise, lane assist, automatic emergency braking and traffic congestion control functions.
Of all the models in this segment, the Q5 is the most enjoyable model to drive. It offers the best balance between comfort, handling and uncompromising road handling. Quattro transmission performance is flawless with very strong brakes. Few vehicles offer such an exceptional driving experience.
2019 BMW X3
For 2019, the X3 enters the second year of its third generation without major changes, so it comes in the same xDrive30i and M40i models. The xDrive30i uses a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo engine developing 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The M40i changes to a 3.0L turbo 6-cylinder making 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive 4WD system.
The xDrive30i is economical and comfortable, while the M40i has its focus firmly on performance. The latter comes standard with an M Sport package including sport front seats, upgraded brakes, driver-adjustable suspension and sport exhaust.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, LED headlights and fog lights, heated power front seats, heated steering wheel, alarm system, front and rear parking sensors, automatic climate control and an assisted-control hatchback. Lane departure warning and forward collision alert with auto brake are also standard. Tale note, though, that the price tag attached to the high-end M40i is mainly related to its additional performance.
Like any self-respecting German vehicle, this Beemer gives you many options to choose from. An advanced driver assistance group includes parking assistant with panoramic-view exterior cameras, imitation leather dashboard, panoramic sunroof, M-shaped aerodynamic package, heated rear seats, navigation system, lighting room, head-up display, passive keyless entry, Apple CarPlay and integrated garage door opener.
The chassis is solid and the steering, handling, braking are all very good – similar, in fact, to the Q5 overall, except that here you get a firmer driving experience. Unlike the X5, which has a spotty reliability record, the X3 has done better in general in that regard.
Advantage Audi Q5
Behind the wheel, the Q5 offers more comfortable handling, and fit and finish is a notch above the X3. We also liked the more comfortable seats. The Q5 offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay while BMW comes with only the latter.
Advantage BMW X3
Those looking at space may go for the X3, which offers a little more space for luggage. J. D. Power's latest study also places the X3 slightly above the Q5 in terms of reliability. You’ll also spend a little less at the pump with the X3.
In terms of price, mechanical performance and insurance coverage, both models offer the same or almost.
After having driven the two models back to back, we understand better why the Audi Q5 has such a grip on the crown in this segment. It’s more comfortable, easier to live with on a daily basis and comes with technology that’s easier to understand and master. You immediately feel comfortable aboard, while you’ll need some time with the X3 before you can say that.
2019 Audi Q5
Seamless fit and finish
Easy to live interior
Outstanding road handling
We like less
Long list of options
Low key styling
2019 BMW X3
Quality of construction
Highway fuel economy
We like less
No Android Auto
|2019 Audi Q5||2019 BMW X3|
|Transmission||7-speed auto||8-speed auto|
|Fuel consumption (city)||10.9 L / 100km||10.8 L / 100km|
|Fuel consumption (highway)||8.7 L / 100km||8.1 L / 100km|
|Fuel tank||70 L||67 L|
|Output||248 hp||248 hp|
|Torque||273 lb-ft||258 lb-ft|
|Cylinders||4 cylindrers||4 cylinders|
|Displacement||2.0L T||2.0L T|
|Trunk space||757 L, 1 550 L||813 L, 1 775 L|
|Towing capacity||2000 kg||2000 kg|
|Length||4863 mm||4700 mm|
|Width||1893 mm||1890 mm|
|Height||1659 mm||1676 mm|
|Wheelbase||2819 mm||2865 mm|
|Warranty||4 yrs / 80,000 km||4 yrs / 80,000 km|
|Price||$46,300 to $56,800||$49,250 to $62,950|