Now after a series of facelifts, and with key rivals from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar and Volvo stepping things up considerably, the Ingolstadt based automaker has unveiled the new Q5, which I took for a drive in a wet Cape Town recently.
The new looks
Although still recognisable as Audi’s mid-range SUV, the Q5 gets the latest version of the brand’s signature singleframe grille, with a further departure from the previous model being the new LED headlights or optional Matrix LED units. Down the side, the Q5 features the same lines as before, but with the addition of new more flared wheel arches and at the rear, the now familiar albeit revised wraparound taillights fitted with optional running indicators.
What about the luxury?
It is a known fact that Audi are renowned for their precision interiors, which again comes to the fore when you get inside the Q5. No matter which variant you choose, you will still find a combination of soft-touch plastics, quality leather and a level of fit and finish second to none in its segment.
The most noticeable tech feature is undoubtedly Audi’s optional 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display. There is also the optional Heads-Up Display and MMI infotainment system, which in top-of-the-range Navigation Plus guise boasts not only the standard 8.3-inch display, but also a touchpad integrated into the now obligatory rotary control dial.
What about practicality?
Despite gaining in wheelbase, width, overall length and height when parked next to its predecessor, the Q5 features a mix of aluminium and high tensile steel to cut weight by some 90kg, while at the same time improving on driver and passenger accommodation. Boot space is claimed at 550-litres although this can be increased to 1 550-litres with the rear seats folded down.
Apart from the usual safety items such as ABS, airbags and stability programs, Audi is pushing hard when it comes to autonomous driving. In the Q5, this includes tech such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Lane Keep Assist and Traffic Jam Warning which takes control of the steering at low speeds in heavy traffic.
A noteworthy standard fixture on all Q5s is Pre-Sense City which will apply the brakes in case of pedestrians or vehicles being detected in the line of sight. To keep the Q5 sure footed, Audi has also revised its trademark quattro all-wheel drive system to feature a new on-demand setup known as 'quattro with ultra technology'.
In short, this consists of 150 sensors that can engage four-wheel drive when needed in a claimed 200 milliseconds. This means that the Q5 can switch between front-and all-wheel drive seamlessly, further helping to improve fuel consumption.
What about the drive?
At launch, I got to experience three engine options seen in other Audi products. There is a 2.0-litre TFSI making 185 kW/370Nm, a 2.0-litre TDI with 140kW/400Nm and the mighty SQ5 now with a 260kW/500Nm 3.0 TFSI V6 as opposed to the 3.0 TDI offered previously.
Whereas a seven-speed S tronic gearbox is standard on both the TFSI and TDI, the SQ5 makes do with an eight-speed Tiptronic, which Audi claims helps it to reach 100km/h from standstill in a mere 5.4 seconds, and on to a limited top speed of 250km/h.
On the road, I must say that the new Q5 felt really refined. It feels light and offers a quiet ride. On the other hand, the SQ5 feels deceptively quick even on the rain soaked Cape roads. With its oodles of low-down torque though, it was the TDI that impressed me the most.
After spending a few hours behind the wheel of the new Audi Q5, I can report back that it is an all around improvement over the previous model.
It feels more refined, features the latest in safety as well as infotainment technology, and it looks really good. I just feel that with our economic situation, customers are looking for cheaper alternatives to these more premium focused SUVs. That said, if cost cutting is not on your agenda, the Q5 will not disappoint.
2.0 TDI quattro S tronic - R698 000
2.0 TDI quattro S tronic Sport - R748 000
2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic - R747 500
2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic Sport - R797 500
SQ5 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic - R1 044 000