The Audi Q5 is here – and we’ve driven it. Finally Ingolstadt has a medium-sized SUV with which to battle the likes of the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK. But in the war of the small, premium Germans 4x4s, the X3 is ageing fast and the GLK won’t be in the UK until 2010 at the earliest. That leaves the Q5 with an easy run at the likes of the Land Rover Freelander and Volvo XC60, if it can deliver on its promise. We’ve just driven the Q5 so read on for our first drive.
So what makes the Audi Q5 stand out from its rivals?
Not its styling. The Q5’s design is safe and secure, with obvious links to other Audi products like the A3 (front lights) and Q7 (taillamps). The front grille is seemingly even bigger than before and the chrome trim around it even thicker, but it’s the only shiny highlight on an otherwise straightforward design.
The Q5 goes on sale in the UK in September 2008 and all cars will initially come in SE spec, which means leather, electric doors and mirrors, rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloys. Pity they look so puny on the Q5. In fact, unlike its big brother the Q7, we would go as far as to recommend an S-line spec car, if only for the 19-inch wheels and bodykit to butch it up.
Click ‘Next’ below to read more of our Audi Q5 first drive reviewWhat about the technical stuff?
Audi’s Quattro four-wheel system is present and correct – this is a 4×4, remember – with a 40:60 front-rear torque split to (apparently) give a more sporting drive. That’s exactly what this car isn’t, but it still handles tidily, slipping into safe and secure understeer if you push too far.
Despite the 2.0-litre TDI engine of our test car also sitting almost completely ahead of the front axle, the Q5 never feels nose heavy and manages to turn in sharply. There’s no feel through the steering though.
The ride patters a little on motorways and on the few sections of bumpy Spanish roads that we could find, our impression is that the Q5 may not be up to scratch for the British B-road. Time will tell.
Visibility is good and the Q5 is compact enough to never intimidate the driver in urban driving. The huge door mirrors make the optional blind spot warning system almost redundant, though they also create a lot of wind noise at cruising speeds.
Safe and secure? You’ve said that a few times now!
We have and that’s exactly what the Audi Q5 is. Those expecting something earth-shatteringly new will be disappointed. The Q5 is a line drawn straight down the middle of the medium-sized SUV class. It’s well built and the perceived quality is high. It handles tidily which is all it will ever need to do, while it will manage any off-road work should you be in the minority who ever leave the Tarmac. Those four rings on the nose are still a strong hook for many buyers and we see no reason why Audi won’t sell as many Q5s as it can make.
The engine, Audi’s latest common-rail 2.0-litre diesel, is quiet, potent enough that it’s (just about) all you’ll ever need and reasonably economical too. Just think: 42mpg on the combined cycle on a biggish SUV. The gearshift indicator encourages you to pootle not power, an ever-present reminder that you could be greener.
Click ‘Next’ below to read our verdict on the Audi Q5
I presume the interior is the same-again stuff from Audi…
If you’ve recently seen an A4 or A5, then yes it is. That’s not to detract from the innards of the Q5 though. Audi still offers the best-looking and best made cabins. But, as other members of the CAR team have pointed out, the unlined door pockets and switch from metal to plastic trim does weaken the quality ambience.
The Q5 is certainly spacious, with an optional sliding rear bench. The controls are as intuitive as ever and the buttons and dials as slick to push, prod and twist as ever. There’s a new MMI system, with topographic sat-nav maps so all the buildings in the centre of Valencia stood out in 3D on our test route. A £300 TomTom might be cheaper, but try selling a Q5 in a few years without MMI.
If we sound underwhelmed by the Q5, then we don’t mean to be. It doesn’t do anything vastly new but it does do all its needs to do pretty well. It’s a compact Audi 4×4 and that’s been one obvious hole in Audi’s range.
The Q5 has plugged that gap and that’s all it needs to do. We just can’t help feeling we wanted a little bit more…