One is the creator of the segment, the other is the current leader. Such is the lopsided-ness of the two, that BMW finally had to make a couple of changes, including localising its second generation X3 before bringing it here. And now, it's truly geared up to take on the Q5
At first glance, the X3 isn't pretty, but neither is the Q5. Stare at them for longer and one thing becomes clear, the Q5 is the more stylish looking of the two while the X3 has a slightly more utilitarian appeal to it. Both of them, however are well-built, high quality machines that can easily carry their respective logos on their noses.
On the inside, both have high levels of kit such as a panoramic sunroof, multitudes of airbags, ABS, ESP, well-specced out infotainment systems (iDrive on the BMW, MMI on the Q5) and seating for five. The X3 has a wee bit more room, though the rear seats of the Q5 are more comfortable. The X3 also boasts of Start-Stop, which the Q5 current doesn't.
You can choose from 2.0-litre or 3.0-litre diesels on both vehicles, with the Q5 throwing in a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol option as well. The 2.0-litre diesel motor in the BMW is strong and does the job, while the one on the Q5 can feel a bit of a laggard. Both cars will give you about 10 kpl on the whole, which is pretty good for vehicles of such size and heft.
Dynamically, it's the X3 that stays a step ahead. Even though both have permanent all-wheel drive, the X3 feels more flickable and less-understeery than the Q5. Ride quality is more or less even on both, with the X3 slightly better on bad roads.
In the end it all boils down to price. The X3 starts at Rs 42-odd lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai for the 2.0-litre diesel, while the Q5 is priced at about Rs 37 lakh for the Business Edition, which is quite loaded by itself. In the end, if money is no object and you want the better car, then the X3 still makes for a better buy.
BSM's Quick Comparos are an easy guide to understanding what each car offers in nuggets, designed for those on the go. You can always refer to BSM's reviews, full-length road tests and exhaustive comparisons to make an educated buying decision.