I am in my late thirties with two young children. I am looking to purchase a car for my wife. She really likes to drive and likes a good handling car, like the BMW X1. It handled really well on a test drive. It is no doubt smaller than some of the other vehicles in its class. We then drove for comparison the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Both were bigger with more utility, but seemed to drive a little sloppier. Is it worth paying more than $7,000 more for the Audi Q5 or BMW X3, or should we stick with the BMW X1? Alternatively, if you have thoughts or reservations about the X1, I would love to hear from you. – David in Calgary
Vaughan: X1 reservations? How about the price of the thing?
I like the size and it does drive beautifully, and you can certainly stuff two kids (no more) in the back. But you're paying top dollar for what's really a little station wagon.
Cato: Which price? For the 2012 model year, BMW Canada offered just the one version with many options: $38,500 to start and then you could add Nevada Leather upholstery for $1,900; navigation for $2,000; $1,000 for special lighting; $1,000 for the Harmon/Kardon sound system; $450 for Sirius satellite radio; and so on and so on.
For 2013, BMW Canada is going down a slightly different track: $36,900 for a lesser X1 or $39,900 for more. The options list is long and involved in either case, David; watch which boxes you tick.
Vaughan: Yawn. Exactly what I just said, top dollar.
Cato: Okay here's another suggestion: give a 2013 Mazda CX-5 a test. You can get one for $27,895, nicely loaded with all-wheel drive.
Although the SkyActiv four-banger is a little weak – 155 horsepower versus BMW's 241-hp turbocharged four – the handling is brilliant. I tested this one on the famed Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey. A compact SUV on a wicked track such as that. Loads and loads of fun.
Vaughan: Yeah, I've heard it all before, Cato. Was this the time you taught Sebastian Vettel how to take a corner? However, apart from your ego trip, I do agree about excellent dynamics of the CX-5.
As you will recall, Ford used to control Mazda, but it kicked Mazda to the curb when the auto industry tanked. I met with the engineers who worked on the CX-5. This was the first all-new model since Ford dumped Mazda, and they all said they were so happy to be able to do things "their" way rather than the "Ford" way. They pointed out dozens of engineering improvements that Dearborn would have argued against. It's a beautifully handling vehicle, although I agree it's a little short on power.
Cato: You know, I have done track time with young Sebastian, coaching him through corners. He's a driver of great promise, Vaughan. Unlike you.
Vaughan: Now I'm feeling ill.
Cato: Now let me say a few words about the Audi, the Q5. The "other" Bavarian car company has absolutely nailed this little SUV, though even the starter version goes for $39,900. Since 2008 when it went on sale, Audi has sold nearly half a million around the world – from Berlin to Brandon to Beijing.
As of 2013, Audi Canada will load up showrooms with three different versions: a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder (225 hp); a supercharged 3.0-litre V-6 (272-hp) that does 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds; and a hybrid version (245 hp combined) that does 0-100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, fuel economy at 6.9 litres/100 km.
Vaughan: Cato, you're reading the brochure again. On and on and on…
Cato: There's a point to this. I want a fourth Q5 in Canada and we're not getting it: the silky and oh-so-fast Q5 S TDI, all 313 horsepower of it, and its 0-100 km/h time of 5.1 seconds. David should pressure Audi Canada to sell this Q5. Fabulous.
Vaughan: There's Cato telling them how to run their company again. But I'll say this: Audi does a great job on the part of the car where you spend all your time – the inside. Great interior, excellent seats, classy all the way. Maybe that's how it gets top dollar for stuff that's a Volkswagen under the skin.
Cato: You want a sexy cabin? David, drive the 2013 Ford Escape. The stuffed, all-wheel-drive Titanium model, turbocharged to 231 hp, handles beautifully and has a sexy cabin loaded with goodies ($37,499).
Vaughan: But Cato – gasp – Ford just flunked the newest Consumer Reports' quality study. The problem is people are too dumb to figure out how the MyFord Touch controls work. However, I watched you figure them out, so I write off a lot of the CR criticism.
Cato: David, if you must go German, go Audi. But I like the Escape because it aims to be a Q5 for thousands less. And succeeds.
Vaughan: That EcoBoost turbo in the Ford is a bit twitchy, so be light on the throttle. I'm saying the Mazda CX-5. As the first Ford-less Mazda, it is a fine piece of work.
Cato: Sorry, BMW, in this field of four, we have you fourth.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2013 Mazda CX-5 GS AWD
|2013 Audi Q5 2.0T AWD||2013 Ford Escape Titanium 4x4|
Track, front (mm)
|2.0-litre four-cylinder||2.0-litre four-cylinder||2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged|
|155/150 lb-ft||211/258 lb-ft||231/270 lb-ft|
|All-wheel drive||All-wheel drive||Automatic full-time four-wheel drive|
|Six-speed automatic||Eight-speed automatic||Six-speed automatic|
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
|8.0 city/6.4 highway||N/A||9.8 city/6.9 highway|
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.