The steering feels a bit unnatural at times and centres slowly when you emerge from corners, while the car performs poorly off-road (which is a surprise, given how it looks). Moreover, the tyres create a fair amount of noise which don’t mind intruding upon your peace and quiet in the cabin.
There is only one fully petrol engine in the range, a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 unit that can do 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s faster than plug-in hybrid, which combines its electric motor with a 2.0-litre petrol engine so that it can get you from a standstill to 62mph in 6.8 seconds. You can run it on electric power alone, but once you switch to petrol the fuel costs will rise sharply.
There are a handful of diesel engines available, beginning with an entry-level 25d unit that delivers up to 228bhp, and which can get you from rest to 62 in 7.7 seconds. For more pulling power and refinement, the 3.0-litre six pot engines are better. Available in either 255, 308 or 375bhp guise, the fastest of them all can do 0-62mph is 5.3 seconds.
The diesels are not as performative as the petrol engine, but they’ll be more than enough for most people. They’re reasonably affordable to run, too, with the 25d capable or returning fuel economy of 53.3mpg while costing just £130 a year in road tax. Compare that to the
£500 you’ll have to pay each year if you plump for the V8 petrol engine.
BMW excel when it comes to stylish interiors. These days, they’re also generous with their standard kit, which here includes a DAB digital radio, climate control, cruise control, a 20GB hard drive, and the brand’s iDrive control system.
The dash is easy on the eye and neatly organised, the steering wheel and driver’s seat offer lots of adjustment, and everything is well-built. A 10” high-def screen is a highlight, while the touch-sensitive pad makes it easier than ever to execute commands.
You can specify an extra row of seats if you need more passengers and don’t mind forsaking some boot space. Without the third row of seats, the boot measures 650-litres, though this can be increased to 1,870 if you fold down the rear seats. It’s not the largest in the class, but it isn’t far off and should be enough for most buyers.
Other storage spaces include huge seat back pockets, plenty of cup holders and some big door bins. Upfront, space is excellent and the large leather seats help to create the illusion of even more room. Three adults should be comfortable in the back, and for once the middle-seated passenger isn’t piggy in the middle, thanks to a wide central seat.
Audi – £46,500 – £56,500
BMW – £44,500 – £90,000