Having debuted globally nine years ago as the second Q model after the controversially styled Q7, the Audi Q5 became an instant hit thanks to its more conventional looks, superb build quality, oodles of luxury and a selection of punchy petrol and turbodiesel engines.
In fact, with a claimed 1.6-million first generation models moved, the Q5 also rated as the best-selling luxury SUV in its class ahead of offerings from rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as well as the dark horses from Volvo, Porsche and Land Rover. Progress and technology moves at a swift pace though and in the face of stiffer competition, the Q5 has fallen somewhat off the radar despite a number of revisions and updates.
That however changed when the covers came off the second generation at the Paris Motor Show earlier this year. Said to be a goal post mover with new levels of tech, refinement and of course power, the Q5 initially comes across as a rather conservative looking thing when a 2.0 TFSI Sport arrived for a week’s stay.
Although still recognisable as a Q5 in profile, the second generation is more of an exterior evolution over the first, with differences consisting of more angular LED headlights, the new square sided Singleframe grille, flared wheel arches, slimmer mirrors and new 18-inch alloy wheels.
Spotting the differences at the rear is a more difficult affair with the most prominent being the new running LED indicators and exhaust with an integrated silver diffuser.
Step inside, and you are greeted by a minimalist interior which in typical Audi fashion, borders on perfection when you start poking around. As ever, there is no denying the level of fit-and-finish with superb quality materials, a healthy smattering of chrome and a grippy three-spoke multi-function leather steering wheel.
The biggest departure from previous models is the impressive 8.3-inch MMI display controlled by a rotary dial in front of the gear lever, which now adopts a freestanding nature as opposed to the old integrated or pop-up units. As in the case of our tester, the system came equipped with the upgraded (R26 000) Navigation Plus system, smartphone integration (R4 180) and Audi phone box (R4 900), and proved to be easy to use and intuitive.
Still impressive, the customisable 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Display (R7 000) adds to the tech fest and really takes the overall look up a notch, with the distinctly airy feel being boosted by the fitment of a (rather pricey R19 900) full length panoramic glass roof.
It is no slouch
Underpinned by the Volkswagen Group’s MLB Evo platform which uses high tensile steel and aluminium to cut weight by 90 kg, the Q5 is also taller, wider and longer than before, meaning a most capacious boot of 610-litres, or 1550-litres with the rear seats folded down. As mentioned, our tester, somewhat surprisingly, arrived sporting a TFSI badge instead of a TDI.
Nonetheless, the 2.0-litre unit still churns out a meaty 185kW/370Nm and is mated to a slick shifting seven-speed S tronic gearbox and as always, quattro all-wheel drive. Hauling the Q5 on a day-to-day basis, the long serving TFSI might lack the low down punch of its oil burning sibling, yet still managed to pull the Q5 along effortlessly, with the dual-clutch gearbox going about its business unobtrusively.
While a Sport mode is provided with gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel, the former via the Dynamic Select system, the Q5 is at its happiest in everyday Comfort mode and with the gearbox in Drive. However, some spirited driving and prolonged spells in Sport, did infringe on fuel consumption with a best recorded figure of 9.8-litres/100 km, well down on the claimed 6.8-litres/100 km.
Also new to the Dynamic Select catalogue is a Off-Road mode which uses the optional (R27 150) air suspension to raise the Q5 when heading off of the black stuff.
It might be a tad conservative and clinical, yet the new Q5 is indeed an all-round step-up over the previous model in more ways than one.
The only black mark against it is the still pricey options which in our tester equated to a whopping R139 930, lifting the as-tested price tag to R937 430. Spec wisely though and the Q5, which is also a 2018 South African Car of the Year finalist, will surprise and deliver the premium SUV goods.