It seems as if BMW is getting some new competition in one of its M Performance SUV segments in North America. Since the new BMW X5 and X6 M50i models made their debuts, their only real competition in the US came from Mercedes-AMG. Now, it seems as if both cars will be getting some new competitors, in the all-new Audi SQ7 and SQ8.
What’s interesting about that is the fact that the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 that we’re getting here in the ‘States are very different from those available in Europe. The SQ7 has actually been available in Europe for some time (the SQ8 is new across the globe) but only as a diesel. So both the Euro-market SQ7 and SQ8 models use twin-turbocharged V8 diesels. However, for the US market, both cars will pack much more exciting firepower; an all-new 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8.
The V8 that powers both the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 is derived from the monster unit we’ve already seen in the Audi RS6 Avant and RS Q8. In lesser ‘S’ guise, it makes 500 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the X5/X6 M50i’s own 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8, with 523 hp and 553 lb-ft, the Audi engine has less horsepower but more torque. On paper, the BMW twins are faster than the Audi twins, with claimed 0-60 mph times of 4.1 seconds, versus 4.3 seconds. In reality, we expect all of these monster SUVs to be about as fast as each other.
In terms of handling and dynamics, we actually expect these cars to handle similarly. While we haven’t driven the Audi SQ7 or SQ8 yet, we’ve driven the standard Q7 and Q8 and they both handle surprisingly well for SUVs. In fact, the pre-facelift Audi Q7 was almost as good as the new X5, despite being older. These two new Audis both have four-wheel steering as-standard, real Quattro all-wheel drive, optional rear limited slip differentials and optional active anti-roll bars. So they should both handle as well as the BMW twins.
I will say that, in terms of looks, the only winner here is the BMW X5 M50i. The other three cars all have some very iffy angles and the X5 M50i is the only one that looks great from every angle.
It will be very interesting to see these cars battle it out for years to come. It’s actually nice to see Audi bringing these cars here to the ‘States and giving them new engines to do so. That shows some real care for US-based enthusiasts (and profits). We’re excited to see how these cars compare when the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 go on sale late this Spring.