Who makes the quickest practical vehicle?

The modern performance SUV is the archnemesis of the fast estate sharing a similar mission to offer sports car performance in a practical package. To see if the performance SUV is ready to dethrone fast estates as the perfect blend of speed and practicality, a drag race is in order. 

Our first contender hails from BMW, a brand very familiar with building fast SUVs and saloons. The X3 M Competition uses a twin-turbocharged Straight-6 engine known as the S58, which produces 503 bhp and 442 lb-ft of torque. The S58 is the most powerful straight-6 engine ever built by BMW and uses forged connecting rods, cylinders, and crankshaft. This stout engine uses 90% unique components when compared with the more pedestrian B58 engine found in the X3 M40i. 

Gallery: Audi RS4 Avant, BMW X3 M Competition drag race

To keep this powerful straight-6 reliable BMW installed five separate heat exchangers including two radiators, two intercoolers, and one engine oil cooler. Power is sent through an 8-speed automatic transmission which is linked to BMW’s XDrive all-wheel-drive system. All of this engineering results in an astonishing 3.3 second 0 to 60 time, which is hugely impressive for a 2,063 kg (4549 lb) SUV. 

To fight off BMW’s X3 M Competition the Audi RS4 Avant is here to represent fast estate fans across the globe. Although SUVs have made great strides in their performance, it’s hard to beat an estate’s lower centre of gravity. The RS4 Avant is powered by a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that pumps out 444 bhp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent through an 8-speed automatic transmission and then routed through Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system go for a 0 to 60 time of 4.0 seconds.

In the end, the RS4 Avant reigns victorious over the more powerful BMW X3 M Competition SUV. On paper, it appeared the X3 M Competition would walk all over the RS4 Avant but the RS4 won a tight victory in the name of fast estates everywhere.