The Q5 is the latest Audi SUV to get a next-generation relaunch. Like its bigger brother – the Q7 – before it, the jelly mould styling has been replaced by a sharper edges and Audi’s distinctive signature grille. It’s more spacious, efficient, better equipped and connected than ever before.
The Mk 1 Q5 was launched way back in 2008 and still looks good today. It went on to become the world’s top-selling SUV in its class, so no pressure there when it came to crafting a successor.
What’s more, it’s now up against some serious competition, including the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Range Rover Velar, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace.
Priced from £38,035, the new Q5 is available with two four-cylinder 2.0-litre engines – a 248bhp petrol turbo and 188bhp turbodiesel, while the sporty SQ5 comes with a powerful 349bhp 3.0 V6 turbocharged petrol unit.
The four cylinder engines are mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and Audi’s new “ultra” quattro 4WD system which saves fuel by switching drive to the front wheels while cruising. The V6 comes with an eight-speed automatic box and full-time quattro four-wheel drive.
I tested the most popular version of the Q5 – the 2.0 TDi Quattro in high spec S Line trim (there’s also entry-level SE and Sport).
My car came with £5,000 worth of optional extras including the Technology Pack (£1,100), a flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel (£100), headlamp washers (£250) and Audi’s impressive Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard (£250).
Apart from its size – which is big, but not too big – the first thing that hits you is that the new Q5 is a looker with greater road presence, and it’s well put together.
Open the doors and they feel weighty. They also close with a reassuring clunk. Then there’s the classy interior, which is classic Audi.
Naturally, there’s a commanding driving position up front, combined with bags of space.
There’s also plenty of room in the back for full-size adults, though as is often the case, it’s slightly less comfortable for a fifth person thanks to the folded armrest and the need to straddle the transmission tunnel.
The new Q5 is slightly longer than the outgoing model which means that it now boasts a handy 550 litres of boot space, or a decent 1,550 litres with the rear seats folded. A power-operated, wide-opening tailgate is fitted as standard for easier access.
Up front the cockpit is oozing with soft-touch surfaces, the seats are comfortable and there are loads of storage spaces.
The centre console is dominated by an 8.3-inch infotainment screen, while if you opt for the Virtual Cockpit, the driver gets a slick 12.3-inch digital dashboard instead of traditional dials.
The Q5 is also more connected than ever and standard equipment includes the Audi Smartphone Interface which lets you use phone apps, such as WhatsApp, Spotify and Google Maps, while the Technology Pack adds MMI Navigation Plus with features such as on-board wifi and wireless phone charging.
All in all, the interior of the Q5 is a lovely place to be, making you and your passengers feel special as only an Audi can.
Audi’s also done a great job when it comes to sound insulation because you’d hardly know you were driving a diesel, while road noise is also well supressed.
In fact, the engine delivers its power smoothly and there’s more than enough grunt to power this relatively big beast. For the record, it can sprint to 62mph from standstill in just 7.9 seconds and go on to 135mph.
The new car is up to 70kg lighter than the original and the diesel is capable of 56.5mpg (132g/km of CO2), though in the real world it’s likely to be closer to 40mpg.
Keener drivers will enjoy switching to Dynamic mode (there’s also Comfort, Auto, Efficiency and Offroad) which gives it a much sportier feel as opposed to Comfort where on more challenging roads you’re only too aware that you’re driving a fairly big SUV with a little body roll.
Thanks to its four-wheel drive, traction is no problem – it will also give you that extra peace of mind in extreme weather conditions.
Go for the optional adaptive air suspension and Allroad mode is added to make the car more adept off-road.
If it’s serious performance you’re after, then opt for the V6 Diesel SQ5 (from £51,200), but the “basic” Q5 should be more than enough for most where standard features include Audi drive select (drive modes), heated front seats, an acoustic windscreen, three-zone electronic climate control and pre-sense city collision prevention assistance.
Naturally, the Q5 is also safe, scoring a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing. Autonomous emergency braking system is standard across the range, while other driver aids such as lane-departure warning system and adaptive cruise control can also be specified.
Verdict: The new Audi Q5 is a solid premium SUV choice – practical, safe, spacious, well-equipped and beautifully built, it’s perhaps most at home eating up the miles as a comfortable cruiser.