Meeting the latest car from Audi is a bit like déjà vu. The changes are minimal and more evolutionary than revolutionary in the design elements. But more on that later. The new Q5 faces a bevy of heavyweight rivals like the Mercedes GLC, Land Rover Discovery Sport and the recently launched Volvo XC60. All these rivals are strong in their own right so does the new Audi Q5 stand out or is it a car you should ignore?
The front end is an exact replica of the bigger Q7 SUV. The prominent hexagonal grille with generous chrome on it sure looks sharp as do the headlamps with a ‘Q’ design in them. The car gets an all-LED treatment so Audi haven’t offered any fog lamps in the car. The side profile is dominated by the chunky tyres, which have loads of side wall rubber. The alloy design is simple though. The rear lamps look very familiar too and are similar to what you find on a host of other Audi SUVs. Overall, it’s a design that doesn’t really stand out but won’t really offend many either.
Audi cabins are the last word on quality. The materials used, fit-and-finish and overall build is just as impressive as ever. That said, the design and layout is becoming all too predictable and a bit boring now. There isn’t a single stand out element which screams attention something that rivals like Volvo and Mercedes offer.
The seats in the front offer good space and comfort as do the ones in the back. The rear seats though are good only for two because of a huge hump in the floor panel. It’s wide and tall so having a third passenger is a bit of an issue. The rear is best for two.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The 2-litre diesel engine makes 190bhp which is transmitted to all four wheels via a 7-speed S-tronic automatic. Refinement is the buzz word with the engine and it manages to keep the cabin a nice and quiet place. Performance is more than delightful too, with 0-100kph coming up in under 8 seconds, making it a strong performer. There is generous power in the mid and top range of the power band. The Quattro system is used permanently with varying degrees of power sent to the front and rear axles depending on the surfaces. The gearbox is a quick unit, with sharp shifts and even in its manual version it feels very sharp. While the ‘Auto’ setting is more than adequate for everyday use you can choose ‘Dynamic’ mode on the ‘drive select’ function to make things more sharper.
Ride and handling
The overtly light steering wheel which is devoid of feel might be a turn off for arm chair critics but in reality its something Audi drivers really like and enjoy. The steering is perfect for city commutes and even more so for parking this car into a tight space. But at higher speeds especially when pushing the car hard into corners you will want something with more feedback. Even in the dynamic setting on the ‘Drive Select’ system, the steering remains overtly light with the car having plenty of body roll.
High speed ride is exemplary as is the ride comfort at slow city speeds. What makes the ride so cosseting is the fact that this car gets adaptive suspension, which works effortlessly and without any noise.
Overall, the Q5 does most thing well and doesn’t disappoint in any key area. Yes, some key equipment is missing when compared to fresher rivals and the ‘same again’ looks might not be to everyone’s liking but the Q5 is a strong all-rounder which should be on your shortlist of luxury SUVs.