Audi was early to the medium SUV game when it launched the Q5 in 2009, and the first generation model proved to be a hit with buyers with it holding the number one spot in its class from launch until the start of its run-out phase in 2016.
Since then the Q5 has been joined by strong competition, not least of which comes from the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLC. To counter those competitors Audi offers the new Q5 with more efficient drivetrains a lighter but stronger construction.
Styling has been updated, but is typically Audi-evolutionary, and as befitting a new prestige model there’s a stack of new interior and safety technology to pick from, cementing the Q5’s status amongst prestige-badged medium SUVs.
Vehicle Style: Prestige medium SUV
Price: $65,900 - $99,611 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic, 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.3-8.7 l/100km
Audi will launch the Q5 with four variants in Australia initially, with a choice of three engines depending on specification.
The range opens from a not-excessive $65,900 (plus on-road costs) for the Q5 design 2.0 TDI quattro, with a 140kW 2.0-litre diesel engine and all-wheel drive standard, or a step up to the Q5 sport 2.0 TDI quattro from $70,700 plus on-road costs.
The ‘standard’ Q5 range tops out with the Q5 sport 2.0 TFSI quattro, which steps up to a more powerful 185kW 2.0-litre petrol engine from $73,500, while buyers craving a performance SUV can opt for the $99,611 (plus on-roads) SQ5 which trades the previous SQ5’s diesel engine for a new turbocharged petrol V6.
- Q5 design: Leather seat trim, three-zone climate control, electric driver’s seat, auto lights and wipers, Xenon headlights, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and start, motion activated tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Q5 sport: Sport front seats, digital instrument cluster, black headlining, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, 20-inch alloy wheels
- SQ5: Nappa leather trim with diamond quilting, privacy glass, adaptive LED headlights, S-Line styling package, flat-bottomed steering wheel, 21-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour display (8.3-inch on SQ5), satellite navigation, WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, USB input, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, CD player, 8 speaker audio (design) or 10-speaker audio (sport, SQ5)
- Cargo Volume: 550 litres to rear seats, 1550 litres to front seats
While it wasn’t entirely out of step with more modern offerings the previous Q5 was starting to show its age, but in this generation the dashboard is more modern in its design and adheres closely to the themes established in the new A4 and A5.
Every touchpoint and button is logically laid out, with a properly premium feel, but more than just mere window dressing, Audi has given some thought to functionality with deep door bins in both the front and rear, plenty of small item storage the now-essential a small binnacle at the base of the dash for a mobile phone and a clever tray under the lid of the centre console that slides back and forth to reveal, or cover, the twin cupholders.
Front occupants sit in wide but comfortable front seats with plenty of adjustment and great forward vision through the expansive windscreen. Rear seat space is also up to the task of carrying a couple of adults in comfort.
Standard features for the Q5 design includes three-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, leather seat trim, Xenon headlights with LED tail lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a 7.0-inch infotainment system - hardly base-model at all.
Moving to the Q5 sport adds Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, a larger 8.3-inch infotainment screen with 10-speaker premium audio, sports front seats, adaptive LED headlights and 20-inch alloy wheels.
The SQ5 adds plenty of luxury and sporting flavour with diamond-quilted Nappa leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats and steering column, a flat-bottomed S-Line steering wheel, and brushed aluminium interior trims.
Boot space measures 550 litres, 40:20:40 folding rear seats are standard across the range, while the SQ5 adds a sliding rear seat, which can be optioned onto lesser models as part of the $1900 Comfort Pack which also includes electric adjustment for the steering column, memory function for the driver's seat, and heated and folding wing mirrors.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic (Q5), eight speed automatic (SQ5), all wheel drive
- Suspension: Four-wheel independent suspension,
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
- Steering: Electromechanical power steering, 11.7m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2000kg braked, 750kg unbraked, 200kg towball download
Initial impressions suggest that 2.0 TDI variants of the Q5 could potentially set new class benchmarks, with impressive overall refinement resulting in hushed on-road characteristics.
With 140kW and 400Nm the 2.0 TDI engine is strong enough to ensure effortless acceleration one the go, with a strong seam of mid-range torque helping rolling acceleration, but an overall quiet that’s impressive from a diesel engine.
Not as impressive is the stop-start system’s delayed restart, which in concert with a delayed reaction from the dual-clutch auto and the slow build-up of turbo boost from standstill makes the Q5 2.0 TDI feel lethargic taking the shine off its eager rolling-response.
Petrol buyers will need to make the move to the more lavishly equipped Q5 sport (which is also available with the diesel engine) to access the 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine.
The responsive engine works well with the Q5 - not quite as blisteringly quick as the more expensive SQ5, of course, but swift enough to whisk the Q5 from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds with a responsive and more rev-happy attitude compared to the diesel.
All models also benefit from a new advanced quattro technology, which has been adopted as a fuel-saving measure and allow on-demand all wheel drive, leaving the rear axle disconnected to reduce efficiency losses in situations that don’t demand all wheel drive grip.
The result is minimal torque steer, as the system pre-emptively sends power rearwards to ensure grippy acceleration, and can also detect enthusiastic driving, triggering all wheel drive before it’s needed, rather than waiting to detect slip and reactively countering it.
Both four-cylinder models channel drive through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, whereas the SQ5 steps up to an eight speed auto.
The SQ5 also delivers a healthy dose of speed, though its transition from diesel to petrol power has actually slowed it down slightly, completing to 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds versis 5.1 for the old model.
Adaptive suspension forms part of the QQ5’s standard equipment list, but the car we sampled was optioned up to include adaptive air suspension, as well as the available quattro sports differential.
As tested, the SQ5 fells convincingly like a sporty sedan rather than an SUV, with level cornering and well-weighted steering working to disguise the ill effects of a higher-riding, taller-bodied vehicle.
An underlying firmness to the ride, even in Comfort mode reminds you that the SQ5 has a sporting flavour and switching up to Sport mode brings even better body control, but does erode ride quality slightly further.
ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars - the Audi Q5 and SQ5 were awarded the maximum five-star safety rating by ANCAP in 2017 based on crash test data obtained by Euro NCAP.
Safety Features: All Q5 variants come with eight airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, pretensioning seatbelts for all outboard seating positions, tyre pressure monitoring, rear view camera, and an active bonnet as standard.
Q5 models can be upgraded to include a 360 degree camera and self-parking via the Parking Assistance Package which is standard on the SQ5
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The new Q5 is a tempting proposition for anyone in the market for a new mid-size luxury SUV. Now lighter and more agile than the model it replaces, and bristling with technology that although not new to Audi, will come as a surprise to owners of the previous generation.
The SQ5 in particular makes a strong first impression. While the new petrol V6 may lack the outright urge of the diesel V6 it replaces, the SQ5 makes up for it with a competent chassis balance and an interior that blends luxury and quality with sporty style.
Even the base package impresses though, without the need to splurge on the SQ5, melding impressive comfort, speed, and style together in a polished package that’s sure to return Audi to its place at the top of the premium medium SUV charts.