The new Audi Q5 has big shoes to fill. The model it replaces was Australia’s favourite prestige medium SUV from the time it appeared until its run-out phase.
Now the Q5 faces more competitors than ever before, and plenty of fresh metal in the segment with all-new models from Volvo and BMW impeding its potential success.
At first glance it might even seem that Audi has been a little conservative with its newest SUV. The styling isn’t dramatically different from that of its predecessor and one look at mechanical specifications suggests a steady evolution.
When you’re onto a good thing, why risk it? Audi’s safe game could be the right approach to maintain the Q5’s sales momentum.
Vehicle Style: Prestige medium SUV
Price: $73,211 plus on-road costs, $84,507 as tested
Engine/trans: 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.3 l/100km | Tested: 10.2 l/100km
The regular Q5 range is fairly simple with two engines and two trim levels. The base-model Q5 design comes with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, but step up to the better-equipped Q5 Sport and there’s the choice of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine too.
That’s the car you see here, officially called the Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro S-tronic Sport - which boils down to a 2.0-litre 185kW petrol engine (2.0 TFSI) with all wheel drive (quattro), and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (S-tronic).
Pricing starts from $73,211 before on-road costs, putting the Q5 Sport right between the similarly powered BMW X3 xDrive 30i ($75,900 plus ORC) and Volvo XC60 Inscription T5 $69,990 (plus ORC).
Under the surface the Q5 is closely related to Audi’s A4 and A5 passenger car range, but the lure of an SUV - and the freedom and versatility it promises - ensure that this model will be the first choice of an increasing number of active urban buyers.
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, front sports seats, three-zone climate control, electric driver’s seat adjustment, digital instrument cluster display, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, motion activated tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch colour display, satellite navigation, WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, USB input, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, CD player, 10-speaker audio
- Options Fitted: Comfort package $2470, Parking Assistance package $1235, Adaptive air suspension $3990, heated front seats $780, load area rails $455, multi-coloured ambient lighting $520
- Cargo Volume: 550 litres to rear seats, 1550 litres to front seats
It was difficult to fault the build quality and finishes of the previous Q5, but as the years rolled on its design started to look a little dated, particularly the small infotainment screen and cluttered centre stack layout.
The new Q5 remedies that with an all new design featuring the latest free-standing screen high atop the dash, revised and easy to operate climate controls, and in the Q5 Sport, a bright and clear 12.3-inch Audi Cockpit digital instrument cluster.
Everything you touch feels solid and well built, right down to the precise way that buttons click and the firm turn of knobs and dials, though it’s surprising to see quite a lot of black matte-finished plastic through the cabin on areas like the gear lever surround and door switch plates.
The slightly more prominent bolstering of the sport seats provides a firm grip for your backside without being too aggressive. The front seats don’t feel overly airy but it’s unlikely you’ll run out of room there.
Same goes for the rear seat; it doesn’t look huge yet step in and there’s no dimension that’s too tight. An upright seating position and tall roofline certainly help make the best of available space.
Standard Q5 Sport features include a powered driver’s seat, leather trim, three-zone climate control, and keyless entry with push-button start. There’s a motion-activated power tailgate too, but personal experience tells me that it’s far too sensitive, detecting passing feet when loading the boot as the signal to close, clocking anyone still standing nearby on the scalp.
It’s the first time a kick-to-close powered bootlid has been so eager to close (it does offer a warning chime but ambient noise is enough to drown it out) and after two decent and unexpected head-clashes I turned the function off for safety sake.
Once you’ve defeated the hungry, hungry tailgate you’ll find 550 litres of boot space, and the optional Comfort package also adds a sliding and reclining rear seat (plus powered steering column, driver’s seat memory, and auto dimming exterior mirrors) to boost interior flexibility.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 185kW @ 5000-6000rpm, 370Nm @ 1600-4500rpm
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, 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
If a petrol engine is an absolute must-have, the Q5 Sport is the cheapest way into one, although the SQ5 has also moved to petrol power, though you’ll be looking at closer to $100k before options and on-road costs for the performance version.
The 185kW and 370Nm 2.0-litre engine of the Q5 Sport feels like a perfect match. Although it doesn’t quite have the plentiful torque of the diesel, it runs more freely to the redline for a driving feel that will be more familiar to buyers moving out of petrol-powered passenger cars.
Compared to its predecessor, the 2.0-litre engine picks up an extra 16kW and 20Nm, but at the same time moves from an eight-speed automatic to a seven-speed unit, although this time the transmission is of a dual-clutch design.
The impact on driveability is negligible. Audi’s work in smoothing the slow speed nervousness of a dual-clutch auto means it’s as easy to park or three-point turn this Q5 as it was the last, with super fast and unobtrusive gear changes at higher speeds
Refinement levels are exactly where they need to be too, with minimal engine noise unless you really wind the 2.0-litre engine out, and well managed road and wind noise resulting in a comfy cross-country cruiser.
Optional adaptive air suspension was fitted to this particular test car, and unlike traditional air systems that tend to float and wallow at times, Audi’s system is much firmer riding, feeling more like traditional suspension, but with the added advantage of variable height of off-roading (raised setting) or loading (rear lowering).
Changes have been made to Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system as well, with the all-paw system moving to an on-demand style setup as a means of saving fuel in driving situations where four-wheel traction isn’t required.
The system is claimed to be capable of preemptively sending torque to the rear wheels in situations where slip might occur, and in a range of conditions, on both wet and dry roads the new system lived up to its potential, allowing neither front wheel slip, nor tugging through the front end.
ANCAP Rating: The Audi Q5 was 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.
The optional Parking assistance package adds a 360 degree camera and self-parking.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Service intervals occur every 12 months or 15,000km (whichever occurs first). Audi offers pre-paid servicing for three years or 45,000km for the Q5 priced at $1870, your Audi dealer can explain full terms, conditions, and exclusions of the program.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The newest BMW X3 feels more like a BMW than ever before, with keen dynamics and an interior that’s better finished than its predecessors.
Mercedes-Benz makes the most of the extra space liberated in the larger GLC compared to the low-riding C-Class estate, but be aware that on standard suspension the Mercedes- is one of the roughest-riding new car cars you can own.
A fresh update applied to the Lexus NX tries to keep the RAV4-based premium mid-sizer competitive compared to its Euro rivals, but an interior that falls short of the pack betrays Lexus’ efforts.
A big change to the XC60 sees it brought right up to date, finally feeling as premium, and driving as well as its rivals. Pricing is on the lower end of the prestige spectrum too.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It may be new, but the latest Audi Q5 isn’t revolutionary - nor does it need to be. The previous Q5 impressed with its refinement and solidity, and this new generation builds on those attributes while bringing technology and styling up to date.
The game has changed, and now more than ever competitors are equally as aware of the importance of the medium SUV segment. The challenge has certainly been thrown down to the Q5, but Audi hasn’t backed down.
Though it may be staid and a little sedate on the outside, the interior quality, composed dynamics, and smooth and willing engine should provide plenty of happy family motoring for drivers and passengers alike.