What is it? The Audi Q5 is an all-new version of the brand’s big-selling mid-sized SUV.
Key features: More interior space, handling, efficiency and technology improvement.s
Our view: The new Audi Q5 is an effective evolution and likely to remain a best-seller for the brand.
Type of review: Taster test.
The Audi Q5 was the second SUV to be launched by the German premium brand in 2008, but has since become a cornerstone of a Q line-up that already includes the Q3 and Q7 and is set to add a Q4 and Q8. Audi has sold 1.6 million Q5s globally, putting it comfortably ahead of direct rivals such as the BMW X3 and more recently the Jaguar F-Pace.
So for the all-new second-generation version, on UK roads in June, it is no surprise that evolution is the order of the day, making the most of Audi’s gains in construction and technology. Despite being a larger car, the new Q5 has also been on a diet, losing up to 90kg depending on model, and mostly achieved through using new materials such as high-strength steels and aluminium.
Outside and in
Visually it’s a good looking SUV – from the large, signature Audi grille, the profile sweeps back in a style much more large car than SUV. Boxy is not a word you use with this car.
Which is interesting as in fact, the new Q5 outstretches its predecessor in virtually all areas, measuring up 3cm longer at 4.7m, an unchanged width of 1.9m, and 6mm taller at just under 1.7m.
The wheelbase has been extended by a mere 1cm, which claims to free up more interior space, and certainly as one slips inside it feels a roomy car in front or back. Again, all the vital dimensions have grown – two adults will feel comfortable travelling in back, and there will be space for their luggage too, the boot volume up by 10 litres to 610 litres (1,550 with the rear seats folded).
It’s hard to write anything new and different about Audi cockpits, because the recipe doesn’t appear to change. All the buttons are in basically the same places and the fit and finish is excellent. The MMI controller is as efficient as ever – its screen is not touch-sensitive, which we like, and one addition is a touchpad at front of the transmission tunnel
Our test car is to upmarket S line specification and includes such niceties as the highly desirable virtual cockpit with Google Earth mapping visible on the instrument panel behind the steering wheel.
Audi launches the new Q5 range with a simple, two-way engine choice. The car for our brief taster test is fitted with the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine of 190hp, while petrol fans, for now, must make do with an also 2.0-litre TFSI unit with just 252hp.
There is a further petrol option, with a 3.0-litre TFSI unit of 354hp, but that’s in the performance-pitched SQ5 that launches at the same time as the stock car.
Of course this exclusive choice will expand before long. A new version of the 3-litre TDI will be first in line with power increased to 286hp, and we can be confident that there will be more, considering the previous generation ended up with an extensive powertrain choice that extended to a hybrid model and a diesel version of the SQ5.
On the road
Our brief test drive around enjoyable roads in Warwickshire proved that the Q5 is a very confident SUV. Both of the 2.0-litre engines are combined with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission and the ultra version of the quattro all-wheel-drive system. This runs in front-wheel drive mode when cruising to save fuel.
As well as the weight saving, the Q5’s on-the-road prowess benefits from a new five-link suspension system and updates to the electro-hydraulic power steering. On the options list, but not fitted to our test car, is Dynamic Steering, varying its ratio dependent on speed and steering input. However, we do get the no-cost option of stiffer, ‘S sport’ suspension, while if we wanted to spend money on the options list we could go the full self-levelling air suspension route.
Initial impressions suggest a very efficient, comfortable cruise while in the corners the car is, well normal. It doesn’t bring a grin to the face with sharp turn-in and sports-car like grip, but it doesn’t unnerve either – it does everything… well perfectly fine, thank you.
The new Q5 comes in the established SE, Sport and S line specifications, and now includes a more extensive standard equipment list. The Smartphone interface, parking sensors, a powered tailgate and the Drive Select system with its Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency modes are supplied on all cars.
However there is also a very long options list – our test car boasted some 13 of them, including the £250 virtual cockpit and a ‘Technology Pack’, adding such niceties as navigation, wireless phone charging and connected services, and also adding a cool £1,100 to the price. Dip into the list too deeply and it’s very easy to take even an entry-level Q5 past the £40,000 mark that now bumps up annual VED tax costs by £310 a year.
Most buyers will probably live with that, however. While detailed opinions will await our full appraisal, it’s immediately clear that the new Q5 is a significant evolution of its predecessor, and likely to maintain the numbers that have made it a best seller.
Audi Q5 – key specifications
Model tested: Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190hp S line S tronic
Price: £40,220 (Range price £37,150-£ 41,040)
On sale: Orders Feb 2017, on road June 2017
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel, 190hp, 400Nm
0-62mph and max speed: 7.9 sec, 135mph
Economy and emissions: 56.5mpg, 132g/km*
Key rivals: BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace
Test date: April 2017
* = with 18-inch wheels
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.