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Audi Q5 (2008) unveiled

Published: 19 April 2008

A decade after rival BMW, Audi is finally joining the mid-sized SUV party. The new Q5, unveiled at this weekend's Beijing motor show, is Ingolstadt's answer to its hometown rival the X3, and is based on the oily bits from the A4. Which speaks volumes about its intent.

Unsurprisingly, that means it's aimed squarely at on-road performance, where it will shuttle five occupants around in - you'd imagine - saloon car comfort. It also means it's not really supposed to go off-road. But then you knew that already.

The Audi Q5 must still be a quattro, surely?

Oh yes. Every model is four-wheel drive; there's no namby-pamby FWD sop here. And as the Q5 uses the latest A4 underpinnings, that means that 60 percent of torque is sent to the rear wheels. Hell, it might even handle.

Naturally, most buyers will plump for one of the popular diesel engines. The 170bhp 2.0 TDI will sell best and with a stout 258lb ft of twist, it can hit 62mph in 9.5sec yet still average 35.1mpg. You probably won't need the 3.0 TDI, unless you insist on showing off at the traffic light grand prix with a 6.5sec sprint to the benchmark.

Few will pick the Golf GTI's 2.0-litre TFSI,  but it's there for anyone with a derv aversion. It produces 211bhp in the Q5, suggesting the VW hot hatch could be in for a power upgrade soon.

Click 'Next' for more on the Q5

Come back to CAR Online next week for a full report from Beijing
It looks less gross than the Q7...

True. It's much smaller, naturally, but then it doesn't have to seat seven people in three rows. The Q5 is 4630mm long and, says Audi, the lowest car in the class (making it 'the sportiest', they say. Quite).

It's reasonably sleek though and the drag coefficient is impressive for a 4x4 at 0.33. You won't mistake this for anything else in your rear-view mirror, however, if Audi's get-outta-my-way LED daytime running lights are specified.

How practical is the Q5?

Audi claims the Q5 can tow up to two tonnes, though, and it comes with a comprehensive hill descent system. You can even order the (optional) Drive Select, which adjust the damping, steering and throttle response according to the driving conditions.

But it's telling that Audi offers wheels up to 20 inches in diameter on the Q5. This is a car that will be bought by those posing or wanting practical - and stylish - family transport. Leave proper off-roading to Land Rovers. You can even specify the body cladding in two-tone, Maybach-style finish.

We'll report more on the Q5 up close next week in our Beijing report, but from these photographs it seems that the Q5 is a tidily designed, well finished mid-sized SUV. Enough to make you wonder how good the forthcoming Q3 could be.

Come back to CAR Online next week for a full report from Beijing

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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