Review: BMW X1 v Audi Q3 v Range Rover Evoque triple test

Review: BMW X1 v Audi Q3 v Range Rover Evoque triple test
Review: BMW X1 v Audi Q3 v Range Rover Evoque triple test

Latest BMW X1 meets its two most fierce rivals: has BMW got what it takes to challenge the two small SUV leaders?

The original BMW X1 may have been the first small SUV from a premium brand, but it wasn’t a very good one. It took the subsequent arrival of the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque to show the world how you should really do a compact luxury SUV.

So now, BMW’s having another go, with the second generation X1. Its first mission is easy: be better than the first. But is it better than the class-leading Audi and Land Rover? We brought them together to find out.

Audi Q3

Audi Q3 2.0 TDI 184
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £34,180
Target Price £31,194
Power 181bhp
Torque 280lb ft
0-60mph 7.6sec
Top speed 136mph
Fuel economy 41.5mpg
CO2 emissions 141g/km

Interior

All three are, as you’d expect, classy-looking machines that carry lots of on-road status. Inside too, they ooze showroom appeal, particularly the exciting Evoque, although it does fall short of the other two for cabin quality. It lacks the robustness of the German duo, particularly the BMW, which now has a significantly classier interior than the old one.

The BMW also now has the most practical interior: that’s probably its 2 Series Active Tourer MPV roots shining through. The sliding, folding rear seat is very flexible and families will discover no end of options and layouts for carrying passengers and loads in the rear. The Evoque, in contrast, has the shortest boot of the three.

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BMW X1 xDrive20d xLine auto
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £34,390
Target Price £31,869
Power 188bhp
Torque 295lb ft
0-60mph 8.0sec
Top speed 136mph
Fuel economy 42.7mpg
CO2 emissions 128g/km

Equipment

It’s the Range Rover that fights back with the best equipment level though, probably helped by the fact it’s the most expensive vehicle here. Full leather trim, cruise control, electric seats and parking sensors are all standard, although it does lack a powered tailgate and LED headlights. The Q3, meanwhile, is missing full leather trim: is adjustable lumbar support enough to compensate?

Performance and handling

It seems the Evoqua’s extra equipment has a bearing on how much it weighs: it’s the stoutest of the group, and lacks both the pace and the dynamics of its German rivals. It rolls more in corners and ultimately has less grip – SUVs should be in their element on narrow roads but the Evoque is now too hesitant in feel compared to the composed Q3 and X1.

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Range Rover Evoque 2.0 TD4 180 SE auto
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
List price £35,000
Target Price £33,694
Power 178bhp
Torque 317lb ft
0-60mph 9.1sec
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 55.3mpg (claimed)
CO2 emissions 134g/km

And although the Evoque is fitted with the latest 2.0-litre TD4 Ingenium engine, it’s also hesitant in response to the accelerator, and is noisier than the refined Q3 when cruising. Indeed, Audi really has a handle on comfort, as its ride is also the smoothest here, proving rather less fussy than the Evoque.

As for the BMW, although it’s generally pretty impressive on the road, with a particularly smooth automatic gearbox, it is rather noisy when cruising. The culprit? Excessive road noise, spoiling an otherwise refined and composed drive. How much of this was down to the optional run-flat tyres fitted to our test car, we’re not sure. Best give it a thorough test drive and see if it’s an issue for you.

Cost

While you’re there, see if the costs add up for you: the X1 actually works out to be the most expensive to own over three years, in contrast to the affordable Q3. Given how the Land Rover has the highest list prices (even after dealer discounts), this may be a surprise – but never underestimate the power of the Evoque’s ultra-strong retained values…

This is why the Evoque is so affordable on monthly contract hire too, although the BMW is the most tax-friendly for company car drivers, because of its efficient diesel engine.

Verdict

So to the results, and the news that the perennially-popular Range Rover now trails in third place. It’s simply starting to show its age, particularly inside where it’s beginning to feel cramped for the driver and passengers. We know how appealing it still remains, but both the Audi and BMW are now the better cars overall.

As for the Audi and BMW, we like the Q3’s quiet comfort but the X1 ultimately gets the nod. Its ride is still a bit noisy on the motorway, but its spacious, quality cabin, plentiful equipment and entertaining drive are all enough to give it the nod.

For BMW, it’s mission accomplished: the new X1 really is better than the last one. And now better than any other premium small SUV you can buy as well.

 

 

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