There’s loads of advanced technology and a beautifully practical interior crafted in Audi’s own inimitable style. In short, if you can afford it, you’d like one.
The styling has been tweaked a bit but what really matters is the redesigned engine range offering extra power and lower running costs, the extra high-tech equipment and, the frantically fast SQ5 flagship model. Audi, doesn’t do things by halves.
Suspension tweaks have softened the ride and a new electro-mechanical steering system offers more feel around the bends. Better still, you’ll find an almost completely new engine range beneath the bonnet, all employing turbocharging, direct injection and a stop-start system for frugal emissions. The result of all this is that every unit manages the clever trick of offering more power with lower running costs. And no engine demonstrates that better than the petrol 2. 0TFSI. Don’t confuse this unit with the old 180PS engine of the same name that was in the original Q5: this one’s very different.
For a start, it’s got a lot more power – 225PS – good enough to get you to 62mph from rest in just 7. 1s on the way to 138mph, but what’s really important is that the pulling power is accessible far lower down in the rev range, from just 1,500rpm. So much so that you’ve really got to have a need for speed to want to opt for the pokier petrol option, also different in this revised Q5, a supercharged 3. 0 TFSI unit good for 272PS that improves those figures to 5. 9s and 145mph but must be ordered with the eight-speed tiptronic auto transmission that’s optional on this 2. 0-litre variant.
The majority of Q5 buyers though, will show a preference for the 2. 0-litre TDI unit, now slightly pokier with 177PS on tap, good enough to get you to 62mph in 9. 0s on the way to 127mph, performance that’s hardly affected if you choose to order your car with the high-tech twin-clutch S tronic 7-speed auto gearbox. The same transmission is the only option should you choose the considerably quicker 245PS 3. 0 TDI version that manages 6. 5s and 140mph. A variant that represents the final stepping stone to the desirable flagship model, the potent SQ5 3. 0 TDI bi-turbo that offers 313PS accessible via an 8-speed tiptronic auto ‘box, needs just 5. 9s to make 62mph and has to be electronically restrained at 155mph.
Whichever Q5 you choose, it’ll come as standard with quattro permanent all-wheel drive – which is worth pointing out, 4x4 mechanicals no longer being a given on small SUVs these days.
In its basic form, Audi’s clever ‘drive select’ system is set-up to let you vary the response of the throttle, the degree of power steering assistance, the operation of the air conditioning and, if specified, the shift points of the auto gearbox, via four modes. You’ll play with the ‘Comfort’ or ‘Auto’ settings for the first few days you own this car: you may even play with the settings of each element via the ‘individual’ mode that’s offered to those who specify Audi’s navigation system. Settle into this car though and you’ll probably just leave ‘drive select’ in ‘auto’ to do its own thing. Or opt for the more eco-minded ‘efficiency’ setting.
Audi doesn’t like to radically alter the appearance of its cars when it chooses to update them – and it hasn’t here. As a result, the coupe-like roofline and the wrap-around tailgate remain in a shape that as before The whole thing’s been enhanced though by a subtle package of updates. So revised headlamps that feature xenon lighting in most models are now framed by LED daytime running lights and flank a high-gloss black single-frame front grille with bevelled upper edges. There are modified bumpers with high gloss black inserts and foglights with chrome rings. For me though, it’s more important to find that roof rails and cross bars are now standard, so you won't need to get bogged down with aftermarket kits and adaptor plates if you want to quickly mount a roof box.
Inside, the tweaks are equally low key, though owners of the original version of this model will notice the extra splashes of chrome and high gloss black trim, the clearer instruments, the neater control stalks and the simpler-to-use MMI infotainment system. Otherwise, it’s as you were – which means you can expect a very classy cabin indeed, though one that some may feel could have been a bit further distanced from that of an ordinary Audi A4. Even the driving position doesn’t feel that different, your perch not quite as high-set as you’ll find in less dynamically-oriented cars of this kind.
Of course, this car faces much tougher competition these days, but the well considered package of changes made to this smarter, better equipped and higher-tech improved version should keep it ahead of the chasing pack. Resolutely hi-tech and resolutely real world, the Q5 remains resolutely right.