It used to be that you had to sacrifice economy for high performance, but that isn’t the case anymore with the advancements in diesel and hybrid engine technology. When it comes to SUVs, there are sporty diesel engine models that will get you off the line quicker but with fewer visits to the petrol station. We’ve set our sights on 3 intriguing models to compare in this segment: the 2015 Audi SQ5, Porsche Macan S diesel, and BMW X4 30d.
Exterior and Styling
Sporting muscular styling, a curved roof line, and dynamic contours, the X4 30d resembles both a coupe and an SUV. Up front, the kidney grille is accented by LED headlights and fog lights, and the back features a sporty bumper. The SQ5’s design is sleeker and not as muscular as the X4.
The roof line doesn’t have as much of a curve to it, which makes it look more like an SUV/hatch hybrid. Though not as curved as the X4, the Macan S does have the curved roof line that’s reminiscent of a coupe as well. Its headlights positioned on the bonnet and large air intakes give it a bold and sporty look, and we like the look of the side blades that pay tribute to the classic 918 Spyder.
Interior and Styling
Leather seats, a sports steering wheel, and satellite navigation come standard on all three of these SUVs. At 8.8 inches, the BMW has the biggest touch screen and it’s iDrive system is better than what the others offer.
Although the Macan has the smallest nav screen (4.8 inches), it’s the most luxurious, resembling the interior of high-end Porsches that cost more than $300,000. It also has versatile 20:40:20 folding rear seats. With more leg and headroom than the others, the SQ5 has the most comfortable back seat along with the most cargo space.
Under the Bonnet
Judging by looks alone, you may think the X4 or Macan would be the fastest in a sprint, but you’d be wrong. The SQ5’s engine generates 40 more kW (230 kW) than the other two diesels, propelling it to a 0-100 Km/hr time of 5.4 seconds. The competitors aren’t that much slower than this time though, as the X4 and Macan can get there in 5.7 and 6.0 seconds respectively.
The noise from the X4’s engine sounds most like a diesel, while you wouldn’t guess that the SQ5’s engine is diesel by the much quieter sound it makes. Of the 3, the X4 30d is the most economical (5.8 L /100Km), consuming 0.5 fewer liters than the SQ5 and 1.0 fewer than the Macan S.
On the Road
Though the Audi is the fastest and quietest, its handling leaves much to be desired. Even when fitted with optional dynamic steering, the ride still feels heavy and inconsistent, and there is significant jostling no matter the road surface. The BMW X4 does have a pronounced body roll around corners, but the suspension is smooth even over minor bumps and other road inconsistencies.
The Adaptive M Sports Suspension upgrade provides an even better ride. However, the Macan’s driving dynamics are the best of the group, offering exceptional body control in a ride that’s firm but not too firm. It’s also much more adept at driving off-road.
All 3 of our competitors here come with a rear-view camera and parking sensors standard. The X4’s impressive safety features include head-up display, drive assist, and surround View. The SQ5 has attention assist and Audi drive select standard, and the Macan has the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system and the most powerful braking system in this segment.
At a starting price of $90,600, the Audi SQ5 is the most expensive. Unfortunately, it’s powerful engine and comfortable seating can’t make up for it’s glaring ride and handling deficiencies. Starting at $83,900, the X4 30d doesn’t offer as much as the Audi in terms of comfort, but it is more on par with the Macan S overall due to its technology and handling capabilities.
We agree with most experts that the pick of the litter in this segment is the Macan S due to its exceptional ride, luxurious interior, and overall value for its starting price tag of $84,900.