BMW 320i xDrive vs rivals

30 Jan, 2013 10:30am

We try five different four-wheel-drive systems to find out which tackles UK winter driving best

Increasingly cold and frosty winters have made car buyers keen to invest in the security of all-wheel drive – and car makers have been happy to cater to this trend.

BMW has sold four-wheel-drive versions of its cars for many years, but from this year it will be offering the system in the UK, on the 1 Series and 3 Series.

Due to the demands of the US market, the first model to arrive is a 2.0-litre petrol, but the technology will soon be rolled out across the range.

This is a big step for a brand that’s revered for its thrilling rear-drive handling, so for the 4WD 3 Series’ first test, we decided to look at the different 4x4 systems on the market and examine in detail how they work on and off-road.

The cars we’ve assembled represent varied approaches to the same job. Audi has a rich four-wheel-drive heritage, and the A6 Allroad’s quattro set-up offers sporty dynamics and plenty of grip.

Another brand with 4WD in its blood is Subaru. Its XV crossover is the only car in its class to feature permanent 50:50 split 4WD.

Completing the line-up are two opposites: the Ford Ranger is a tough pick-up for the most extreme off-road conditions, while the Lexus RX 450h is an efficient and refined hybrid.


There’s no overall winner of this test, as our cross-section of models is so different. However, these cars demonstrate that there’s an all-wheel-drive model to suit every need.

For reassuring on-road handling, the new BMW 320i xDrive is excellent, and it doesn’t compromise on BMW’s ultimate driving machine philosophy. If you’re more adventurous, the Audi A6 Allroad is a very comfortable cruiser that can also handle light off-road work. This mix of skills is taken a step further by the Subaru XV, but its deficiencies in other areas are a lot to live with.

The Ford Ranger will take any off-road punishment thrown at it, and at the other end of the spectrum, the Lexus RX 450h is a technology pioneer offering superb comfort and low running costs – at a high purchase price.

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So basicly, this was a pointless article

what a rubbish article. who wrote this nonsense?? makes no sense, why not just leave it at one line, "all 4x4 cars are good for various different reasons".

all the above states is that we couldn't be bothered to complete this test or even conduct a reasonable test since we just rip our paperback viewers off with **** we thought we could continue with that theme for the online version and just use their money to drive nice cars around

Absolutely pointless article. The first thing they talk about is 'comparing on and off road ability' of 4WD systems, then in the next breath say no overall winner. But guess what - a Ford Ranger is better off road than the other, err, road cars. Really? Come on Autoexpress. Struggling for articles?

Forgot to say - BMW 3 series Xdrive versus its 'rivals'. So there must be buyers considering ordering either a Ford Ranger or a BMW 3 series? Good god AE. Pathetic.

who wrote this crap?

I suspect this is a hamfisted précis of the magazine article. Still a crap, pointless piece of journalism.

did somebody get paid to write this pointless article?

Somebody needs a dictionary, this was not a test but a comparison. A VERY poor one at that, it provided absolutely nothing new to what was already known. A complete and utter waste of time.

Since the article is pointless how's about discussing this line "the ulimate driving machine" Are they suggesting its better than a Ferrari? or a Lambo, or a Bugatti etc etc? Surely someone should be having them under trade description act ;)

No actual description of the 4WD systems being 'compared' (as indicated); but then, no actual comparison either.Surely it would've been feasible to find a snow & ice covered area and compare dynamics? Its a shame they didn't go on to say that none of the test vehicles are as capable off road as an elephant, however, due to the elephant's 4 independent knee joints, its ride-quality and handling suffer on road.