Audi Q5 Review: Four Rings on a New Q
by Sue Baker
Quattro four-wheel-drive has long been in Audi’s arsenal to keep its performance cars sure-footed on the road, and it’s now also at the heart of a whole family of Q models.
Think Q car, and the first thing that may come to mind is either a stealthy unmarked police interceptor, or some outlandish new invention by the white-coated boffin in a Bond film. Now listen carefully, 007 …
Never mind the fiction. Q cars are real and on the road, made by the company with Vorsprung durch Technik – ‘advancement through technology’, originally a sign on the factory wall – as its slogan. Audi now has a ladder of four hunky Q models for its customers to ascend: Q2, Q3, Q5 and Q7, the same number as the rings on its car badges.
Of those four models, the Q5 is the one that has most recently reappeared in a new guise, and here it is: the second generation of a car that has already become a very successful stalwart of Audi’s remarkably extensive range of 15 different model families.
Riding on MLB
This new Q5 weighs a bit less – by around 90 kg – than its predecessor, having been put on a mild diet to nudge up the fuel economy and tether CO2 output. There’s some aluminium in the bodywork to save weight and help moderate the car’s fuel thirst.
This Q5 is based on the same under-structure as Audi’s latest A4 saloon, with its design tailored around an engine installed longitudinally, rather than the transverse layout of so many other cars. It is built on the Volkswagen Group’s modular MLB chassis, which Audi asserts gives the car better handling, as well as improving ride comfort.
Does it work? Yes, it clearly does. This new Q5 feels sharper and more poised than the previous car, good though that was, and which it still closely resembles with relatively unchanged looks. It’s a handsome hunk, with some visual muscle as well as having beefy performance.
Neat and sweet
How does it drive? Rather sweetly, and now with a bit more poise than some rivals. The ride is sportily firm, though not harshly so, and the Q5 handles with more body-taut aplomb than you tend to expect of a car of its type. It is evidence of how a cannily engineered car can be taut as well as tall.
With torque vectoring, the system that applies power to individual wheels where needed to keep the car balanced on the bends, the Q5 feels clingy, sure-footed and more enjoyable to hustle along a twisty B-road than some other tallish SUVs.
It also has pert steering that is strongly informative, with really good feedback from the tyres’ interaction with the road surface. Performance is very brisk, with a 0-62 mph time that nudges just below eight seconds on this two-litre diesel version, and with a top speed potential of almost double the UK limit. Better save that for a holiday trip to a derestricted German autobahn!
Audi does interiors really well, and the Q5’s is high calibre, with a club class ambiance, precision fittins and a lovely lattice pattern on the very nicely contoured and comfortable seats. It’s nitpicking to say that the satnav screen atop the dash has a bit of an add-on look about it, but it does. You can also specify Audi’s fabulous ‘virtual cockpit’ dash display that spreads the navigation map right across the 12.3-inch zone viewed through the steering wheel.
This is one of the bigger SUVs on the market – although the simply huge Audi Q7 and its ilk come another rung above – and the Q5 is well-endowed with luggage room. Its boot is 610 litres, and extends to 1,150 litres with the rear seat trio folded down into a long flat floor loadbay.
The Q5 is pricey, with a kick-off tag of £37,170, and topping out at over £40k. But it’s also a class act, with a very noticeable upgrade of the driving experience over its predecessor. Vorsprung is the word.
Audi Q5 Stats Review
Model tested: Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S
Top speed: 135 mph
0-62 mph: 7.9 secs
Economy: 56.5 mpg
CO2: 133 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
February 23, 2018
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