Audi’s second-gen Q5 packs on the improvements, manages the urban SUV gauntlet well
Like almost every other carmaker, Audi’s sports utility vehicle (SUV) lineup has blossomed like mushrooms after rain. Ten years ago, Audi had one SUV – the big Q7 – and now it has four.
While sales of smaller SUVs/crossovers like the Q3 and very recently introduced Q2 might be shoring up sales, it’s the Q5 that was the best-seller amongst the Q brood. This is the all-new, second-generation model, and it aims to keep the title of foremost Q with a lengthy list of improvements.
Like the new-generation A5 coupe, which we found to be impressively bettered this time around, the Q5 has switched to the new MLB Evo platform and enjoys all the benefits that come with it: 35kg lighter despite being larger than before, stronger too, and with the latitude for a whole host of technology improvements onboard.
The connection to the A5 coupe isn’t a coincidence (besides both sharing a number) as we think the new Q5 resembles its coupe cousin quite a bit – and it didn’t help that both cars we tested were a similar shade of navy blue.
Both now have the same clamshell bonnet that spans the full width of the front end, although the Q has the typical Audi soft-roader cues, like taller ride height, silver-framed diamond grille, and contrast silver ‘bash plates’ all around. It’s a chunky, imposing look, but in Audi’s normal fashion it’s not a belligerent presence like say, a Range Rover Evoque.
The Q5 wasn’t short on space before, but it gets 10-litres more cargo room now (550-litres in total) and the second row is adjustable for backrest angle, plus forward/rear movement, so there’s decent flexibility on hand to suit different arrangements.
The interior’s replete with subdued grey tones, silver trim, red highlights and easy-to-use ergonomics that make Audi’s cabins some of the best around. That the Q5 carries a lot of technology onboard, from the Virtual Cockpit (still one of the best implementations of an active instrument display around) to Google-fu-enabled navigation and predictive routing.
Currently the sole engine option for the Q5 is the 2.0-litre turbo, packing a decent 252hp. Grunty turbo engine, slick dual-clutch gearbox, and all-wheel drive spell for a SUV that’s relatively quick on its feet around town and on the highway. The car also packs a new trick with its quattro AWD, the ability to decouple the rear driven wheels for more efficient front-wheel drive when necessary. Given the marketing spiel ‘full-time all-wheel drive’ translates into ‘full-time fuel wastage’, it’s a good thing, and enables the Q5 to be relatively frugal compared to most mid-sized SUVs.
While the car comes equipped with adaptive suspension (and Audi’s drive select modes), like so many other SUVs, it falls short when it comes to ride comfort. The big 19-inch wheels make you feel each small bump, not uncomfortably, but you’ll always know they’re there especially in ‘Sport’, while depressions in the road lead to wallowing in ‘Comfort’ mode.
Perhaps it’s just endemic to modern crossovers that almost none of them ride particularly well, in contravention of SUV expectations. The real crime is that coupes, oft maligned for being too sporty, actually do better when delivering a decent ride. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe is more comfortable than the GLC Coupe, for one example, and in the Q5’s case, it’s the car’s A5 two-door sibling that puts it to shame.
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro
Engine 1,998cc, 16V, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 252hp at 5000-6000rpm
Torque 370Nm at 1600-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h 6.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.0L/100km
Price $239,700 with COE
Agent: Premium Automobiles