Audi’s Q5 has been one of the big success stories of the current SUV craze.The first generation’s blend of tough looks, strong drivetrains and premium feel made it a huge hit with buyers.
Time marches on, though, and so Audi has been busy with the spanners.
The second-generation Q5 is bigger than its predecessor in every direction yet, thanks to some sharp new styling, manages to look less cumbersome in the metal.
That expansion up and out means that there’s more room for passengers and luggage than before. From a front-seat perspective that’s great – there’s loads of room in every direction and plenty of adjustment means drivers of all shapes and sizes can get comfortable. In the back it’s not quite so capacious but you’re unlikely to hear much complaint even from adult passengers, thanks to sliding and reclining rear seats.
Behind them, there’s 10 litres more boot space than before and the 550-litre space is perfectly suited to the demands of family life. All Q5s have a powered tailgate but our test car added hands-free operation.
Audi Q5 S Line 2.0 TDi
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, diesel
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto driving all four wheels
Top speed: 135mph
CO2 emissions: 133g/km
The S Line specification of the test car also packed in some fancy trim touches, sculpted sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. They all looked very nice but I’m not sure a two-litre diesel family SUV really needs a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
That aside, there’s very little to criticise in the cabin. It’s a cliche to talk about the high standard of Audi’s interiors but they really are among the best in the business, with an impeccable combination of materials and build quality.
There’s also plenty of equipment, with the likes of three-zone climate control, a seven-inch MMI touchscreen with voice control, and cruise control as standard alongside safety technologies ranging from six airbags to collision detection and mitigation systems.
Piled onto that in the test car were the eye-catching Virtual Cockpit that replaces the instruments with a configurable 12.3-inch display, and MMI navigation plus which brings Google Earth mapping into the car on an 8.3-inch display. It looks stunning and works brilliantly, although whether the media system is an overall match for BMW’s iDrive is a tough call.
In terms of drivetrain your choice is diesel or petrol – all Q5s come with four-wheel-drive and a seven-speed S tronic gearbox. Our car was the four-cylinder diesel, good for 187bhp and with enough performance to meet most family users’ needs. While its refinement and power is impressive enough the real star is the gearbox. It’s so smooth that the dash readout is the only indication you’re changing gear.
The official economy figure for the diesel is 56.5mpg, but real-world driving will get you around 40mpg judging by the car’s long-term trip computer.
It’s an oft-repeated complaint that Audis’ ride can be overly firm and our car’s sport suspension certainly left it open to such accusations. Even in comfort setting it transmitted a lot of the worst road surfaces up into the cabin. Of course, in exchange for putting up with that you’ll be rewarded with excellent body control and composure on twisting roads.
If you can live with the firm ride or only drive on smooth Tarmac, the Q5 is a calm, quiet and refined cruiser. Add in a spacious and brilliantly finished interior and bundles of the latest technology and it makes a strong case for itself as a desirable family wagon.