Audi Q5 2017

More tech and a new interior make the family SUV more desirable

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  • Interior quality
  • More spacious inside than before
  • Smart looks
  • Doesn’t scream individuality
  • Loads of cool things are optional
  • Not the most exhilarating drive in class
 

£37,170 - £41,040 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

40 - 56 MPG

Review

The new Audi Q5 SUV comes with striking new looks, but the characteristics that made the original such a hit with family buyers are still there. The new tech and interior bring it up to speed with rivals such as the classy Mercedes GLC, sporty Jaguar F-Pace and the BMW X3 which is the oldest car in this company but remains one of the best.

Inside, the Q5 gets the same well-made cabin that was first seen in the A4 saloon. Of course, the more options you spec, the nicer it becomes, but the space for four adults and a large, usable boot are there even if you resist the temptation to throw wads of cash into options.

Much like the interior, there are few surprises out on the road. You come to expect Audis to be confident, capable, easy and, well, a bit boring to drive, and the Q5 is no different. It isn’t destined for a racetrack (not a revelation) so a lively chassis and tantalising steering response are deemed as secondary requirements.

What’s had more focus is the choice of engines – you can pick between three engines from launch but they have been selected very carefully – the 2.0-litre diesel will take the lion’s share of sales thanks to its balance of frugality and reasonable pace, while the 3.0-litre diesel serves as an unassuming rocketship until the SQ5 performance variant arrives. A 2.0-litre petrol rounds off the range providing a hushed alternative to the diesel and one that will make sense if you have a low annual mileage.

Trim levels are yet to be finalised but expect the Q5 to follow Audi’s familiar range structure comprising basic SE, mid-range Sport and top-of-the-line S line. Expect all models to come with sat-nav and climate control, Sport to feature a better infotainment system and leather upholstery, and S line will add to that with an eye-catching bodykit, large wheels and sporty interior trims.

The interior boasts the same exquisite build quality and upmarket materials you’ve come to expect from Audi. It’s very similar – some would say near-identical – to the Audi A4’s innards, with a strong emphasis on large expanses of soft plastics, dark unpolished woods and metals. As standard Q5’s interior is a little on the gloomy side, though – you’ll need to head to the options list for posher trimmings.

Audi Q5 infotainment

Sat in the middle of the dash is an infotainment screen that’s integrated into the overall design more gracefully than the faux iPad in the Mercedes GLC. All Q5s come with an infotainment system with a seven-inch screen as standard, but we’ll focus on the optional MMI plus that features most of the new tech and ups the screen size to 8.3 inches.

It features live traffic information, speed-limit-recognition and 3D graphics, provided by Google Earth, but what’s new is the updated touchpad on top of the familiar rotary dial. Like the system in the Audi A8, it understands handwriting, but now it also responds to familiar smartphone gestures such as pinching to zoom. Automatic Q5s get a larger touchpad, positioned in front of the gear lever.

For even more information you can spec the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit. It replaces the speedo and rev counter dials with a screen, letting you choose what information should have priority – particularly impressive is the sat-nav-centric mode. There’s also an optional head-up display, as well as rear-seat entertainment in the form of a removable tablet, plus wi-fi for up to eight devices.

Audi Q5 passenger space

In the metal the new Q5 might look a bit smaller than the outgoing one, but it has actually grown in size. Four adults have plenty of space to travel long-distance, but a third person on the middle seat will find it too narrow to be comfortable, and there’s also a large transmission tunnel to contend with.

Audi Q5 boot space

Even though the Q5’s boot space is slightly behind the class-leading Jaguar F-Pace – 610 vs 650 litres – the load area is still usable, square, and large enough for most Ikea trips. Depending on the options you’ve specified, the boot door can open hands-free and/or the whole rear end of the car can hunker down to ease loading.

The Q5’s high-tech MLB Evo underpinnings mean, despite being bigger than the outgoing model, the new Q5 is around 90kgs lighter. Unfortunately, the weight loss doesn’t translate into the same agile handling you get in a Jaguar F-Pace nor does it make it as playful as a Porsche Macan. It tends to lean towards comfort rather than sportiness.

The benefits of lighter weight can be felt elsewhere, though, particularly in terms of ride comfort. You can choose between two standard suspension setups – the softer regular one, or a sportier setup with stiffer springs. Alternatively, you can have Audi’s adaptive dampers either on their own or in combination with the very comfortable air suspension.

Equipped with the latter, the Q5 glides along the worst roads while still keeping body roll in check. Audi gives you no less than seven driving modes – from Efficiency to Off-Road. The Q5 feels best left in Auto, however.

Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is available across the engine range, but the smaller engines get the latest version called quattro ultra. Most of the time power is sent to the front wheels (to save fuel); the rear wheels only engage if the car’s brain decides it needs more traction. A sports rear differential, which aids cornering speeds, is optional but makes about as much sense as giving a weightlifter running shoes.

Audi Q5 diesel engines

The bestselling engine will almost certainly be the 188hp 2.0-litre diesel thanks to its combination of decent power and low fuel consumption – though exact running costs have yet to be revealed. It supplies the Q5 with a linear power delivery and a decent turn of speed, but its unsophisticated noise may rub some owners up the wrong way.

One step up you’ll find an updated version of Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 282hp. It offers immense pulling power, is very smooth and, when combined with the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, gives an effortless driving experience. It comes with the regular quattro system as standard because the ultra system can’t cope with the 457 lb ft of torque. On the upside, it can shrug off the job of hauling a heavy trailer, with little impact on performance.

Audi Q5 petrol engines

The only petrol available from launch is a 2.0-litre packing 248hp. It feels eager in lighter Audi models, but in the Q5 you need to rev hard to extract its best performance. And, once you start thrashing it, the sound is more hot-hatch than family SUV – some will like that, some won’t. It’s the only engine with available specs, so it returns 42mpg and emits 154g/km of CO2 emissions, for £185 annual road tax.

Conclusion

The original Q5 was on sale for seven years and racked up more than 1.6 million global sales, so a replacement was a matter of when and not if. And, given that the old car was such a success, the new model was always going to offer evolution rather than revolution.

As such it brings a fresh exterior design, a class-leading interior, plus updated engines that are faster and more frugal than before. It puts the spotlight firmly on the BMW X3 which is starting to look a little old hat in this class.

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