Audi Q5 SUV (2017 - ) review
The Audi Q5 is a prestige compact SUV that competes with cars like the BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan and Mercedes GLC. Like most other Audi models, it competes mainly on its interior quality and its technology.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.7 The Audi Q5 has no shortage of premium SUV competition, with Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche and BMW all offering super-talented rivals. However, the Q5 definitely has what it takes to compete doing a great job in most areas, and an exceptional job in some of them. Not the most exciting car of its type, but certainly one of the most complete.
- Wonderful interior quality
- Good to drive on optional air suspension
- Very good rolling refinement
- Some rivals are more enjoyable to drive
- Lots of information still to be finalised
- Shaky historical performance on reliability
At a glance
As with any Audi, desirability will be a big part of the Q5’s appeal, and that’s something the Q5 has in spades. It comes not only from the four-ringed badges that sit at either end, but also from looks that are pretty hard to distinguish from those of the bigger, more expensive Q7. Entry-level SE models look suitably arresting, but Sport and S line models have even more sporty styling goodies to make them look even meaner.
As always with an Audi, things get more desirable when you open the door and climb inside. The materials and cabin design are taken almost wholesale from the latest A4, meaning the materials are dense and sophisticated, and everything is finished with flawless precision and attention to detail. The infotainment system is mostly intuitive and easy to use, but if you specify Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit system – that replaces conventional dials with a large screen that takes care of both your driving information and your infotainment functions – then things take rather more getting used to. All models have plenty of adjustment for the driving position, and you get a clear view out in all directions.
This wasn’t an area of particular strength for the previous Q5, but the latest one does a rather better job. That’s mainly down to the car’s longer wheelbase, which affords rear-seat passengers more generous legroom. A sliding rear bench also allows you to shift the space available into the boot rather than the passenger compartment, so it can be used for legs or luggage as needed. Even at its smallest, the boot is marginally bigger than the old car’s at 550 litres, and the sliding seat can boost this to 610 litres without dropping any chairs. When you do, you get an even more cavernous 1550 litres of space, but you don’t get a completely flat loadbay because the rear seats lie at an angle. All in all, the Q5 isn’t the most practical car of its type, but it’s still competitive.
Ride and handling
Like with most Audis, the suspension you get depends on which grade of car you choose, and other optional arrangements are available on top of that. So far, we’ve only had the opportunity to try the car on the poshest of the four setups available: the optional air suspension with adaptive dampers. This won’t be a cheap option, but with it fitted, the car is really very impressive. Importantly for a car that’ll be used primarily as family transport, it delivers a lovely smooth ride that wafts you along luxuriously when you select the car’s Comfort setting. Shift the setting to Dynamic, and you’ll enjoy really crisp body control that contributes to impressively sharp handling. It can’t compete with the likes of a Porsche Macan or Jaguar F-Pace for fun or involvement – the steering, although it’s weighty and consistent, doesn’t have the same level of engagement – but there’s no doubting how competent the Q5 is through a set of bends. Obviously, an abundance of grip and traction also help on this score, and the Q5 has both. Although most versions have abandoned permanent four-wheel drive – standard on all previous Q5s – for an on-demand system that disengages drive to the rear axle under normal driving conditions to save fuel, you’ll struggle to detect the difference in the traction delivered. That’s true both on the tarmac and on looser surfaces.
At launch, you’ll be able to choose between a couple of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines – a petrol with 248bhp and a diesel with 187bhp – both of which will come with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox as standard. The vast majority of UK buyers will plump for the diesel, but we only had the opportunity to drive the petrol. It’s pretty good, with a generous slice of easy-to-access torque for nice easy progress, even if it doesn’t feel as brutishly quick as the power output suggests. It is, however, very smooth and quiet, which contributes to the car’s very impressive level of rolling refinement. We’ve also tried the 282bhp V6 diesel that’s become available soon after launch (this one comes as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive), and it delivers strong, smooth acceleration and excellent refinement.
Like with many aspects of the Q5, UK prices are some way off being announced. We expect them to be competitive with all the key rivals, but with cars like these, pricing isn’t normally a deal-breaker: you don’t pick the cheapest one, you pick the one you want. Sadly, the other thing we can’t tell you about at this early stage is how efficient the car is, in any of its various forms, because the official tests are yet to be conducted. However, with Audi’s latest engines and a range of efficiency-enhancing measures, including the move to on-demand four-wheel drive, we’d predict a very competitive performance.
Accurately predicting the reliability of a new car is usually pretty tricky, but it’s even trickier when the on-sale date of the car is still several months away. Still, Audi might well be hoping that the new Q5 performs a bit better than the last one did. According to the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, the current Q5’s score is about as low as it’s possible to get, and Audi also rates pretty poorly in the manufacturer rankings.
The exact safety kit provided is one of the many things that’s yet to be announced, and don’t go expecting a Euro NCAP crash test rating anytime soon, either. There are some things the car will have to have by law, such as stability control and daytime running lights, but we’d be very surprised if the standard roster didn’t also include at least six airbags and autonomous emergency braking. We do know however, that you’ll be able to specify an optional suite of driver assistance systems. In the right circumstances, these will do much of the driving for you.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, it’s way too early for UK specs to be available, and that includes the amount of standard kit you’ll get. However, we’d be staggered if things like climate control, leather upholstery, parking sensors and sat-nav weren’t provided as standard across the range. It’s likely the really clever stuff will be saved for the options list, including Audi’s Virtual Cockpit information display, wireless phone charging, a wifi hotspot and sat-nav that can predict where you want to go before you even tell it.
Because you want a compact SUV that conveys a prestige image, and that does a great job in every single area. It’s not the most exciting car of its type to drive, and it’s not the most flamboyantly styled, but it’s an incredibly good all-rounder that’s particularly impressive for interior quality.
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