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Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 compact SUV comparison

June 23, 2016 by

If any car looks destined to become a surefire sales hit, it’s the Audi Q2. A compact SUV with a premium badge, we’d be surprised if it didn’t become one of the most desirable cars on the road.

That doesn’t mean it’ll have the segment to itself, though. The BMW X1 is pitched as the enthusiast’s choice in this crowded area of the market. But which makes the most sense? We compare the two to find out.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – styling

The Q2 offers a slightly trendier take on the usual Audi styling theme. The familiar hexagonal grille remains at the front, but chunky wheel arch extensions, square-shaped tail lights and a contrasting silver finish for the C-pillar make the Q2 one of the more distinctive Audi offerings. It shares its platform with the A3 hatchback and, though its SUV bodystyle means it’s the taller car, it’s also 120mm shorter making it easier to park.

In contrast to the Q2, the X1’s styling plays things safe. The front end looks much like a 1 Series on stilts, while the rear has a whiff of 3 Series Touring about it. It’s well-proportioned and looks appropriately expensive though, so BMW fans will find plenty to appreciate. There is a sense, however, that it’s ‘just another BMW’ in a segment dominated by strong designs.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – interior

The Q2’s A3 origins are most obvious from within the cabin – save for optional extra flashes of colour, the dashboard layout is nearly identical. That’s certainly no bad thing – it means the Q2 has one of the most attractive and solidly built cabins at this price point. It’s at its best when equipped with Virtual Cockpit – a 12.3-inch digital display that takes the place of traditional dials.

The X1 continues its understated theme inside. All the controls are smartly laid out and overall quality is sound, but the dashboard design isn’t very thrilling to look at. The BMW edges out the Audi in the practicality stakes, though. While the Q2’s 405-litre boot is bigger than a typical family hatchback, it’s trumped by the X1’s 505-litre volume. Both cars are roomy in the back, capable of catering for six-footers without too much hassle.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – driving

Sharing a platform with the A3 was always going to guarantee one thing – the Q2 handles securely and predictably, and is very easy to drive. Ride comfort is on the firmer side without feeling uncomfortable, and the cabin remains pleasantly hushed on a motorway cruise. Long-distance driving is aided further by Audi’s Progressive Steering. The system is shared with the S3 and adjusts its sensitivity according to road speed, increasing stability at high speeds while helping the Q2 to feel more agile in town.

The BMW is undoubtedly the more enjoyable car from behind the wheel. The sharp steering compliments the chassis, which offers excellent body control. Equipped with the expensive optional Dynamic Damper Control, the ride can feel jiggly in sportier settings, but leave it in Comfort mode and it’s a relaxing car to live with. The bulk of the X1 range features four-wheel drive, through basic models – in a rare departure for BMW – are front-wheel drive.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – engines

The Q2’s petrol lineup kicks off with a 113hp 1.0-litre turbocharged unit. Though the three-cylinder unit is smooth and peppy, many buyers might prefer the 1.4-litre engine – with an extra 35hp, performance is improved considerably. The most frugal model in the range is the 1.6-litre diesel – this 114hp motor claims close to 70mpg in official tests.

From launch, the only model available with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive is a 148hp 2.0-litre diesel, though the 1.4 petrol and an upcoming 2.0-litre petrol will offer the system in future. Gearbox options are a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The X1 has a choice of three diesels and one petrol. Even the entry-level X1 18d out-punches the most potent Q2, yet manages an impressive claimed 68.7mpg. The most potent xDrive25d sprints from 0-62mph in a hot hatch-baiting 6.6 seconds. A six-speed manual is offered but the eight-speed automatic is a much better option.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – value for money

Prices for the Audi Q2 are yet to be confirmed but, with its more modest engine lineup than the BMW, we expect a entry-level figure comfortably lower than the £26,930 BMW asks for a basic X1.

Audi Q2 vs BMW X1 – verdict

The Audi Q2 offers buyers a highly sought after alternative in the compact SUV market. With its premium badge, fantastic interior and frugal engine lineup, it’s sure to become one of the class leaders. It isn’t the sportiest car on the road, but its comfort, refinement and ease of use will matter more to most buyers.

Contrary to the way that it looks, the BMW X1 is the most fun of the pair to drive. With sharp handling and strong performance, it’s arguably the enthusiast’s choice in this class. It’s more spacious, too, but it’s also more expensive.

Though both cars are pitched at the same type of drivers, they each offer different qualities. While the BMW is a talented machine, the Audi’s funky looks and lower running costs will make more sense to most buyers.

Save money on your next compact SUV

For more information and the latest offers on this pair of fancy crossovers, check out our Audi Q2  deals page and our BMW X1 deals page. Want to discover the alternatives? Why not try out our car chooser tool or our regularly updated deals page.