It’s Audi’s fifth-biggest seller in the UK, and number one worldwide, so the arrival of the all-new Q5 is a big deal for the German brand.
On the road
On the road
It may look like a gentle evolution of the first-generation car, but the new Audi Q5 is virtually all new and had a long list of development goals, according to its manufacturer. These include lowered cabin noise, big gains in handling and responsiveness, supple chassis balance, improved palpable quality, premium standards of fit and finish and accessible connectivity that’s easy to use.
Which is quite a long list. We’ll address the various points, but it’s a clear indication that this is no mere updating job.
The engines are carried over from where the previous model finished, but are now significantly more efficient. The range from launch is a simple one with 2.0-litre 252hp petrol and 190hp diesel models, the diesel predictably hoovering up the majority of volume. A 3.0-litre diesel will follow late this year. All versions, across the SE, Sport and S-line trim levels, get a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive as standard.
The diesel drops by 20g/km on the old car to 132g/km, helped by a weight reduction of up to 90kg across the range, and the official combined fuel economy figure goes up by 7.8mpg to 56.5mpg. It’s also worth noting that the Audi Q5 got closer to its official combined figure than any car we’ve so-far tested on the CCT 108-mile test loop, recording a combined 47.4mpg to hit 83.9% of the laboratory-achieved test loop.
The new model is 34mm longer and 6mm taller than the outgoing Audi Q5, while maintaining the same width. Audi is claiming worthwhile increases in all interior dimensions to increase cabin comfort for occupants, especially shoulder and head room front and back, and it’ll comfortably take four adults as long as the tallest one isn’t sitting behind the driver.
The cabin is pure Audi, reinforcing the brand’s well-established strength of a cabin that looks good, feels good and is logically laid out. The seats have been redesigned across the range, and the mid-spec Sport model tested here gets heated leather sports seats that offer plenty of comfort.
The H-point, which is the height the seat sits in relation to the car, is claimed to be 61mm lower than the old car’s for a better driving position.
At the back of the car, the powered tailgate is standard across the range, and can be set to open to a certain height to avoid bashing a low garage roof, for example. Or presumably so very short people can reach the button to close it again. The boot area itself is a very usable square flat shape, and is 10 litres bigger than the last Audi Q5’s to put it on par with BMW and Mercedes rivals, if well behind the Jaguar F-Pace. Extra boot space can be liberated with the addition of a £350 optional sliding rear bench that moves by 120mm, taking maximum boot space without folding the seats up to 610 litres.
Overall, it’s a much bigger car on the inside than it looks or feels from behind the wheel. All-round visibility is decent, too.
As well as the BMW X3, Jaguar F-pace and Mercedes GLC, Audi lists a wide variety of rivals for the Audi Q5, including the Land Rover Discovery Sport, forthcoming Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Volvo XC60, and, especially when the more powerful diesel arrives, the Porsche Macan and the Range Rover Velar launching later this year.
On the road, Audi’s goal of being a “new benchmark” for refinement is a resounding success. The brand said at the car’s launch that the refinement is “a clear barometer of our level of investment” in the new car, and the absence of road, wind or engine noise at cruising speed is a major achievement.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news on the driving front. The ride is much less impressive; the suspension seems to want to let the occupants know about every bump, rather than try to absorb it; the Audi Q5 feels like it hits every ripple rather than ride over them, and once you’re aware of it, this becomes an even more irritating trait. Audi’s history in the ride-quality department is mixed, and the new Audi Q5 proves that the company still hasn’t completely nailed it.
The rest of the driving experience is either good or wildly inoffensive; there are no other areas of criticism. The S-tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox is generally slick, although not without occasional low-speed hesitancy, and the 190hp diesel puts the Audi Q5 on the right level of performance to give nothing away to its competitors. In fact, the Audi Q5 accelerates from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, which is quicker than any of its premium rivals. Only the equivalent BMW X3 can match the Audi Q5’s power.
Audi’s five-mode Drive Select system is standard across the range, offering comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency and off-road modes. There isn’t exactly a chasm of difference between the settings though.
Standard equipment is decent, without blowing rivals out of the water. Three-zone climate control, heated leather front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and Xenon headlamps are all standard from the entry SE trim, and the fairly modest £1100 step up to Sport brings satnav (which as an option on SE would cost half the price of getting to Sport trim on its own), upgraded alloys, sports seats and the LED lighting pack. Another £1950 to S-line adds the usual sporty styling adornments inside and out that come with Audi’s popular top trim, as well as 19-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and LED headlights.
For particularly high-mileage drivers, it’s worth noting that Audi’s standard warranty tops-out at 60,000 miles, whereas BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes all go for unlimited-mileage three-year offerings. Despite that, Audi tops the chart versus its key rivals for service, maintenance and repair costs.
Overall whole-life costs are pretty close between Audi, Jaguar and Mercedes, with the BMW a little way adrift thanks to a residual value that reflects the car’s status as the most long-standing in the segment. A new X3 arrives within 12 months that should shove the brand back into serious competitiveness, but for now it’s a little way off the other three, which are covered by just 0.6p per mile.
Overall, the Audi Q5 is kind of what you might expect from a new Audi. There’s a good and very welcome jump in efficiency, interior quality is as good as ever, performance is up with the class best and the refinement levels are what might be expected of cars from more than one class above. The one copybook blot is the disappointing ride quality that is at odds with an otherwise serene, welcoming and high-class new medium-sized off-roader.
The Q5 was Audi’s second SUV, slotting in below the Q7 to give the firm a rival to the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.
Launched in late 2008, it has since been joined by a further two Q models in the form of the smaller Audi Q2 and Audi Q3 as crossover and SUV sales have boomed worldwide. Previewed by the 2007 Cross Cabriolet quattro concept car, the Audi Q5 was a sibling to the A4 and A5 models and has gone on to become Audi’s biggest-selling model worldwide with 1.6m sold in less than nine years.
Audi’s SUV and crossover push gathers further pace over the next couple of years, with the launch of another three models. An Audi Q8 will come in at the top of the range in 2018, followed by a coupe-styled Audi Q4 crossover the following year, continuing the trend of model expansion that has seen Audi go from 17 model lines in 2001 to passing 50 by the time the Audi Q8 launches.
The third model will be a plug-in hybrid off-roader that Audi has hinted won’t take the Audi Q6 nameplate despite fitting into the range below the Audi Q7.
What they said
What they said
“International best sellers are always difficult to reinvent, but while the latest Q5 may bear a passing resemblance to its predecessor this is a start-from-scratch rework. It takes the major advances in refinement, dynamics, efficiency, driver assistance, functionality and in-car technology from the latest A4 and A5 and upscales them for the mid-size SUV class."
"Add quattro all-wheel drive and Ultra technology, and the Q5 comfortably earns the right to appear on even more choice lists.”
Head of Fleet,
Need to know
Three things we like...
Interior quality is lovely - typical Audi, basically
Having eight preset buttons for the audio is useful for compulsive channel-hoppers
The boot is a good space, and access is 54mm wider than the last car’s
...And one we don't
It’s a shame that the sharper but same-again styling isn’t more of an advancement
It’s clearly not a sports car, but handles tidily enough for a tall SUV. No complaints, but these types of car aren’t bought for the way they handle anyway.
The 190hp 2.0-litre diesel is a benefit-in-kind band better than all of its major rivals, bar one.
Boot space matches rivals’, and is a big, square area. There’s just enough rear leg room for adults, and plenty of headroom.
Audi provides a decent level of standard kit across the Q5 range, but nothing that goes above and beyond what might be expected. Satnav isn’t standard on entry car.
Classy, sharper and understated, if too close to the outgoing car’s.
Comfort and refinement 7/10
Opposite ends of the spectrum here - refinement levels are excellent but the ride quality is rather disappointing.
Typical Audi, which means well designed, user-friendly and high-class materials.
Intuitive and straightforward to use, Audi’s MMI system is up with BMW’s for easy access to the audio systems and car settings.
Whole life costs 8/10
Good, but without being class-leading in most areas. The Q5 has a decent RV and decent P11D price, but both are beaten by rivals’. Only 0.6p off the class leader though.
CCT opinion 8/10
The Q5 is a sensible choice that doesn’t appeal on an emotional level like the more characterful Jaguar or better-handling BMW. Nothing wrong with that though.
There's nothing unexpected here - Audi has taken its usual direction of improving the previous Q5 in pretty much every way. Poor ride quality is the only downside.