Even discounting Mansory’s tuned version, the 2021 Audi RS Q8 is an appreciably sporty and fast luxury SUV. But these days, consumers are almost spoiled for choice in that regard. For example, the RS Q8 has another German rival in the form of the BMW X5 M Competition. But which balances performance and premium refinement most effectively? That’s what Throttle House wanted to find out.
The 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 BMW X5 M Competition deliver luxury-wrapped speed
Overall, the 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 BMW X5 M Competition are fairly similar. Both have turbocharged V8 engines, all-wheel drive, and two rows of seats. And both have price tags in the 6-figure territory. The RS Q8, for example, starts at $114,500. The X5 M, meanwhile, starts at $105,100; however, the Competition Package adds $9000 to that.
The 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 BMW X5 M Competition don’t just have similar price tags, though. Performance-wise, they’re right next to each other. With the Competition Package, the X5 M’s 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 makes 617 hp and 553 lb-ft, Roadshow reports. And despite weighing over 5400 pounds, the big BMW goes 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
The Audi RS Q8 doesn’t have as much power, but it makes up for it with torque. Its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, similar to the Lamborghini Urus’ powerplant, makes 591 hp and 590 lb-ft. Audi claims the SUV goes 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds, but MotorTrend estimates it might do it in 3.5 seconds. And it’s worth pointing out that the RS Q8 currently holds the SUV lap record at the Nurburgring.
In terms of luxury features, both the Audi RS Q8 and BMW X5 M Competition come well-equipped, Car and Driver reports. For 2021 the X5 M finally gets Android Auto to go with Apple CarPlay; the RS Q8 also has both. Both SUVs also come with navigation, digital gauge clusters, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and automatic emergency braking.
The X5 M, though, adds lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring on top of that. However, if you want ventilated front seats, that costs extra in the BMW; they’re standard on the Audi RS Q8. And while the BMW X5 M Competition has adaptive M-tuned suspension, it doesn’t have the RS Q8’s air suspension or rear-wheel steering. But the BMW comes with active anti-roll bars, which are optional on the Audi, Car and Driver reports.
How do the Audi RS Q8 and BMW X5 M Competition compare on the road?
Between the Audi RS Q8 and BMW X5 M Competition, the latter is the sportier SUV, Throttle House reports. It has sharper steering, for one, and its transmission is tuned a bit better. That’s not to say the Audi isn’t fast, it’s just more subdued, Roadshow reports. Especially since the Competition Package gives the BMW X5 M a performance exhaust and additional driving modes.
In terms of their interiors, both the Audi and the BMW have no material quality flaws. Everything is solidly put together and stylish, though Throttle House the RS Q8’s infotainment is a bit easier to use than the X5 M’s system. However, Throttle House noted the X5 M Competition’s well-bolstered seats were stiffer than the ones in the RS Q8. Neither Hagerty, Motor1, or The Drive have noted that, though.
But those publications, as well as Car and Driver, did note another downside to the BMW X5 M Competition’s sporty handling: the ride. Compared to the Audi RS Q8, passengers are jostled more in the back of the BMW. And that’s in Comfort Mode. In contrast, while the Audi isn’t as viscerally exciting, it delivers a “seriously supple ride,” The Drive reports. It also lets in less road noise than the X5 M Competition does, even with the BMW on winter tires. Plus, Throttle House reports the X5 M’s steering is fast enough to make highway driving difficult.
Which is the speedy luxury SUV to buy?
Ultimately, choosing between the 2021 Audi RS Q8 and 2021 BMW X5 M Competition is like picking where you want to vacation. In that, it will be enjoyable regardless, but the specific destination is a matter of personal preference.
If you want a luxury SUV that feels the most like a sports car, the X5 M Competition is the better choice. It’s sharper and a bit more raucous, but also a bit more uncomfortable in the day-to-day. This is why both of the Throttle House hosts prefer the RS Q8 for day-to-day driving. It’s more subdued, but around town, that’s to its advantage.
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