Photo Comparison: Audi SQ5 vs BMW X3 M40i

Since its debut, the new Audi SQ5 has had to deal with two competitors, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and Porsche Macan GTS. Now, Audi’s quick little SUV is getting a new competitor from its Bavarian neighbor — the BMW X3 M40i.

This is the first competitor for the SQ5 from BMW, as it’s the first performance variant of the X3. It’s also a very worth adversary and something the Audi SQ5 should worry about. Though, the SQ5 is no slouch either, so it should be a good fight.

Under the hood of the Audi SQ5 is a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 engine that makes 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That blown-six is paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which delivers power to all four wheels. According to Audi, it’s good for 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s quick for an SUV. Though, the BMW X3 M40i is even quicker still. With a turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-six engine, the X3 M40i makes 355 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It’s also paired with an eight-speed auto (both are sourced from ZF) and powers all four wheels. The difference is that the BMW X3 M40i can scoot to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

However, we can’t comment on how they drive against each other, as the X3 M40i hasn’t been released yet so we haven’t driven it yet. But what we can comment on are the looks of the two cars. So let’s compare their new designs.

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From the outside, the BMW X3 M40i is far more aggressive. It has more pronounced shoulder lines, muscular haunches and big wheel arches. It’s also more rugged looking, as if it could handle some rougher terrain, even though the roughest terrain either of these cars will see is a gravel driveway. By comparison, the Audi SQ5 is sleeker, more modern looking and features a more flowing design. If you ask these eyes, the Audi SQ5 is the prettier looking car and the BMW X3 M40i is the cooler looking car. Decipher that as you wish.

Though, I do think BMW did more to distinguish the M40i variant from the standard X3 than Audi did with the SQ5 and Q5, respectively. While the Audi SQ5 is a very good looking car, it isn’t that much different from the standard car upon which it’s based. Plus, there are some seriously concerning aspects of its design that really ruin its sporty reputation. Prime example: fake exhaust tips. That’s simply uncool in an expensive and sporty SUV. The BMW X3 M40i gets cool rectangular exhausts that are actually exhausts.

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On the inside, the two are extremely different. Where the Audi SQ5 is incredibly modern, minimalist and high-tech, the BMW X3 M40i is chunky and rugged, with aggressive lines and shapes. The steering wheel is a good example of that difference. The Audi SQ5 has a spindly but high-tech looking wheel. The BMW X3 M40i has a chunky, thick-rimmed and traditionally BMW wheel. Both good looking, just very different. The dash of the BMW X3 M40i features thick and angular trim pieces while the Audi SQ5’s has a single, horizontal but of carbon fiber trim. The BMW seems aggressive and the Audi seems simple and modern.

It’s hard to pick which car looks better, as they’re both so different. It’s also hard to determine which cabin is better without being able to compare material quality and comfort back-to-back. However, just from pictures, I think the BMW X3 M40i is the better looking car. It’s features a more aggressive design upgrade over its standard car, more so than the Audi SQ5’s upgrade. It also gets real exhaust tips and more muscular lines. The Audi SQ5 is a great car and a great looking one, it’s just not as exciting as the Bimmer.

CategoriesEditorial SQ5
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.