Audi has brought the performance fight to North American shores in the compact sport utility market. Squaring off against the X3 in this segment, the Audi has been selling strongly – but how does it measure up with the X3 when it comes to performance?

BMWBLOG thoroughly tested the X3’s performance on the racetrack (hit the jump) and we were left impressed, in a nutshell. No, it’s not a track machine per se, and few (if any) will ever track an X3, but its dynamic competence on the track will translate well to curvy roads in your neighbourhood, and that’s the take home point. When a child or deer runs out in front of your X3, you couldn’t be in a safer handling SUV to avoid collision.

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Audi would like to interject here that they also have a dynamically competent compact SUV, it’s called the SQ5. With S treatment it gains a supercharged 3.0 liter V6 and sportier suspension settings. Performance is said to be 5.3 seconds 0-60, going on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250 kph).

This performance is possible thanks to the engine’s 354 hp at 6,000 rpm and 346 lb-ft of torque. The Audi still manages an average of 8.5 liters/100 km (21 mpg) thanks in part to its new 8-speed transmission.

To get things really sizzling, Audi has included torque vectoring technology along with their AWD system, so the SQ5 can shoot out of corners with less understeer.

These numbers sound pretty good – but how do they measure up against those of the X3?

First of all, BMW’s X3 manages slightly better fuel economy, though by a slim margin. The X3 is shy on power by 54 hp and 46 lb-ft vs the SQ5, but bear in mind that the X3 does not proclaim itself a performance SUV. These are large differences in power output, but given the X3’s excellent handling and the fact the BMW’s full torque comes on stronger at lower rpm, we’re inclined to think the performance difference is smaller than the numbers suggest. The X3 manages a 5.8 0-60 time, placing it half a second slower to 60 mph than the Audi; on the street this difference is very marginal and given the SQ5’s “S” designation, it’s not that impressive. We’d have to do a back to back track comparison to know the true objective difference in performance.

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There have been rumours of an X3M coming to market – and should this M SAV materialize – we’re certain it will be very, very quick, likely sharing a detuned engine from the upcoming turbo M3.

The last thing this world needs is another sporty SUV, but should you be in the market for a sporty compact SUV, Audi has just added one more reason to shop around.