The Audi Q5 has lots going for it: it’s an SUV, it has the usual Audi traits of refinement and an upmarket interior environment, and it provides another reminder that diesel engines are efficient for long motorway journeys.
Since the Audi brand first appeared in the UK many years ago it has progressed from having a very limited model range to having a huge model range today. Like many other manufacturers, as part of its line-up, SUVs are now vitally important for sales and profits, and the Q5 is one of Audi’s key sales success stories. Therefore you might imagine that Audi has been keen to retain the qualities of the previous Q5 in the new model, and if so, does it move the game on sufficiently?
The Audi Q5 as tested featured a 190PS 4-cylinder 2-litre turbodiesel engine, a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and quattro all-wheel drive.
Many people are likely to struggle to tell the new model exterior apart from the old one. The interior is also not radically different from the previous model or from other Audis. We’re not saying that this is a bad thing, as the interior is a high quality environment. One area that has moved on is the technology in the instrument cluster; you certainly can’t complain about the Q5 dashboard not giving you enough information.
And of course the Q5 is a practical SUV body style, offering a good amount of space.
Regular drivers of recent Audis won’t be surprised to learn that the new Q5 majors on refinement. It’s a very nice, quiet place to be on long motorway journeys, and this experience is enhanced by the impressive ride quality on our test car. However at this stage we should point out that our test car had adaptive air suspension – a £2,000 option. As well as delivering a cosseting ride, or a firmer set-up in Sport mode, it also allowed the ride height to increase for off-road driving (when the ride quality is very good once again, doing an excellent job of smoothing out potholes). And of course there’s lots of grip thanks to quattro all-wheel drive.
There are a wide range of drive mode settings: Lift/off road, Allroad, Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual. However despite the range of drive modes, overall the Q5 remains a comfortable proposition rather than exhibiting sporty, engaging handling. There’s also a significant delay when setting off from standstill – when going forward, and especially when reversing (although this gives you the chance to appreciate the excellent quality of the reversing camera).
Once you’re underway the transmission performs adequately, and you can change gear manually using the (small) steering wheel-mounted paddles. The best combination to make decent progress is the Dynamic drive mode setting and the Sport transmission mode.
A very good piece of news – and a very unusual feature for most SUVs in this class – is that the Audi Q5 came fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres (as fitted to Land Rover products), which perform very well in snow and off road, as well as on the road.
The official NEDC combined fuel economy for the Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro is 56.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 132 g/km, based on 18-inch wheels. As our test car had 20-inch wheels fitted, the official economy dropped slightly to 54.3mpg and emissions increased slightly to 136 g/km CO2. In real-world driving we achieved 55mpg at 70mph on the motorway, and an indicated 66.8mpg over the 20 mile 50mph limit on the M6. This is a reminder that despite all the bad press, diesels can be efficient for drivers who cover many motorway miles, particularly for large SUVs (and of course the diesel engines in the very latest cars are the cleanest diesel engines from the point of view of local air quality). Overall, after a week of mixed driving, we averaged 44.7mpg. The Q5 also has a real-world driving range of 630 miles – something that electric cars will struggle to match. Of course it should be pointed out that SUVs aren’t the most efficient of car body styles – and the Q5 weighs 1845 kg, which doesn’t help with economy when accelerating and decelerating.
The Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190PS S line S tronic costs £40,925, however, as is typically the case with Audis, our Q5 had quite a collection of options, including Navarra blue metallic paint (£645), Head-up display (£900), Parking Assistance Pack (£1,350), 20-inch alloy wheels (£900), Electrically adjustable front seats with memory function for the driver’s side (£800), Audi Matrix LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic front and rear indicators (£650), Storage Pack (£175), Extended LED Interior Lighting Pack (£150), Comfort and Sound Pack (£1,295), Technology Pack (£1,395), Adaptive air suspension (£2,000), Panoramic glass sunroof (£1,400), Collapsible spare wheel (£175), and folding door mirrors with auto-dimming and memory function (£325.00), taking the total price to £53,970.
The Q5 is available with a choice of 2.0 TDI quattro 190PS and 2.0 TFSI quattro 252PS engines with S tronic transmission, or a 3.0 TDI quattro with tiptronic transmission. Trim levels include SE, Sport and S Line. There’s also the SQ5.
The Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190PS S line S tronic is a class act overall. It’s refined and it offers a very high quality interior environment. These are two features that Audi buyers evidently value very highly, and prioritise over sporty handling. However these qualities are also something that you pay for; a base price of £40,925 isn’t cheap, but when you hit £53,970 after options, the Q5 is looking decidedly expensive (or profitable depending on which way you look at it). One of the options on our test car was the adaptive air suspension; at £2,000 this is pricey; however the resulting ride quality was impressive, and this also means that you can make the most of the SUV and its quattro all-wheel drive system by raising the suspension for off-roading exploits – not that we imagine that many Q5s regularly see any off-road action.
So the latest Q5 is certainly an evolution of the previous model rather than a revolution. Perhaps the key takeaway is that diesel engines such as this 2-litre Audi TDI unit are still one of the most efficient ways to cover many motorway miles, especially in large SUVs – yet many in the media are trying to kill off diesel engines without any debate about circumstances when diesel may be the most suitable fuel.
The Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190PS S line S tronic gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.