Earlier this week Audi launched its new Q5 range, which combines styling, engine and chassis enhancements, as a result of improvements across their engine range fuel efficiency has seen a 15 per cent increase over its predecessor. The first-generation Q5 sold approximately 430,000 units worldwide since its introduction in 2008, with sales of 176,000 units for 2011. The exterior styling has been tweaked with new headlights and a front grille up front, whilst the rear receives new tail lights and re-shaped exhaust tips. The xenon headlights which are standard in S Line versions feature a new led daytime running light that boarders the headlight, offering a new distinctive look over its competitors. The Q5’s main competition will come from the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC60, both are very accomplished machines in their own right. With the correct combination of body colour, wheels and trim options the Q5 is a handsome prospect and scores over its competitors in this regard. The interior has also received a refresh with new materials on offer, all conforming to Audi’s renowned high-quality. One of the test cars I drove featured wooden inlays in the dash and door cards, which offer a premium feel. I would recommend upgrading to the SE specification were leather upholstery is standard fitment, this raises the quality of the cabin significantly.
Prices for the new Q5 are reduced slightly from its predecessor, commencing from €40,395, with first deliveries due in September. The entry-level 2.0-litre TDI model with 143hp and 320Nm of torque will no doubt be the key seller across the range. Thanks to improvements in emissions this model is seated in tax band B. It utilises a front-wheel-drive setup that’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission, customers can specify Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive setup if they desire. On the move the Q5 has respectable road manners, there’s ample power for the majority of drives, although acceleration is at a leisurely pace if you’re keen to push on. The chassis is stable with some body roll apparent if cornering at speed. The higher specification Q5’s fitted with Audi’s drive select system offer improved damping and handling characteristics. This system allows the driver to vary the feel of the steering and accelerator and stiffen the suspension depending on the mode selected. It’s a system that certainly aids the driving experience, especially evident in the high-powered SQ5 model. The six-speed manual gearbox is the sole transmission choice for this model. The key to this engine is its efficiency, offering a combined fuel consumption of 5.3l/100km (53.3mpg). There’s ample interior space for front and rear seat occupants with 540 litres of storage space in the boot. Also in the boot and worth noting is a space-saver spare wheel, in an effort to reduce weight and increase space the majority of manufacturers aren’t supplying a spare wheel these days, instead opting for a tyre repair kit that’s inadequate for the vast majority of punctures.
It’s pleasing to see the 2.0-litre TDI with 177hp, that’s available in the Q3 and A4 is also available in this new Q5. The additional power doesn’t offer much gains but the increase in torque (380Nm) offers a more composed drive. This model is available with Audi’s superb twin-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission, this is standard fitment on the 3.0-litre TDI quattro model. It’s a joy to live with on the road, offering silky smooth gear changes. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive distributes the power to the wheels at a ratio of 40:60 rear biased, but will redistribute power where necessary if required.
The standard level of equipment across the range has been improved over its predecessor, with Bluetooth interface, electromechanical power steering and a spare wheel all included. The base model comes fairly well appointed with items such as cruise control, rear parking sensors, 17” alloys, climate control, ESP and fog lights included. There’s a €2,500 premium to upgrade to SE specification, which benefits from such additional equipment as heated seats, 18” alloys, Milano leather upholstery, a colour driver information system and front and rear parking sensors. The top of the range S Line variant costs an additional €3,385 over SE trim. It has its own S Line exterior pack which includes 18” S Line alloys, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, whilst the interior is treated to specific S Line leather and Alcantara seats and a leather multi-function steering wheel.
Amongst a host of optional extras is Audi’s MMI Navigation plus and Audi connect, which allows you to connect to online services. It has an integrated Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) hotspot onboard which allows up to seven devices to connect, such as laptops and smartphones, which once connected can access the internet and email whilst on the move. The system also connects to online services such as Google Earth and Google Street View for the navigation system which displays this on the colour screen. It’s straightforward to use and certainly beneficial for those that spend long periods of time travelling. Audi has some advanced driver assistance systems which can be installed on the new Q5, these include adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and side assist. The active lane assist will alert the driver if they are drifting out of their lane, with a gentle pulse through the steering wheel, the system is active at speeds in excess of 60km/h. The Audi side assist uses radar sensors to monitor vehicles approaching from behind and will alert the driver of a vehicle that is in their blind spot. A light will illuminate in the right or left door mirror to alert the driver of the approaching vehicle. I experienced this safety system in operation whilst test driving on the high-speed German Autobahns and it certainly is a reassurance when changing lanes.
This newly refreshed Audi Q5 offers a generous blend of style, comfort and technology and will cause some concern for its nearest competitors.