When Audi launched its mid-sized prestige SUV back in 2008, rivals were few and far between. BMW’s X3 and Land Rover’s Freelander were the most obvious, but neither quite hit the mark. The X3 was saddled with challenging looks and an overly firm ride and Land Rover’s offering was perhaps a little utilitarian for some.
Fast forward nearly a decade and the picture looks somewhat different. Old players have been comprehensively revamped or replaced (new X3 and Discovery Sport) and new players have entered the arena (Volvo XC60, Jaguar F-PACE and Mercedes-Benz GLC).
Earlier this year Audi launched its second generation Q5 and although I had driven it briefly, I was looking forward to getting to know the premium SUV a little better.
The Q5 is an impressive car and the ‘Navarra Blue’ paintwork and black leather/Alcantara interior gives the car a suitably upmarket feel. Listing at £40,290 OTR before some £5,000 worth of extras were added (City Assist Pack £1,400, Technology Pack – £1,100, Advanced key £525), this is more or less where diesel Audi Q5 ownership begins.
Audi quote a 0-62mph time of around 7.9 seconds and I think it would be fair to say that the Q5 feels pleasantly brisk. Others will win the traffic light sprint, but in truth this rather unimportant.
Instead the Q5 lends itself to a rather more laid back and unhurried driving style and driven thus, the Q5 covers ground quickly and has plenty of mid range torque for safe overtaking manoeuvres.
The standard fit 7-speed dual clutch transmission shifts smoothly and has wheel mounted paddles if you choose to exercise control.
CO2 emissions of 133g/km and a combined fuel economy figure of 55.4mpg are both competitive. In the real world the trip computer never showed less that 45mpg, with a gentle late evening cruise yielding just over 50mpg.
The Q5 is a big car and it therefore comes as a great surprise that it handles so well. The 4wd quattro drive-train clearly plays its part and allows the driver to carry plenty of speed into corners, safe in the knowledge that all will be well, whatever the weather.
Body control is excellent and the steering responsive and more fun can be had behind the wheel than you might expect.
The ride is always firm, though not uncomfortably so. Be careful if you choose to add wider alloy wheels…
It’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and the high driving position affords a great view out. The seats are extremely comfortable and hours behind the wheel left me relaxed and ache free.
All the controls are beautifully damped and are a delight to use.
Equipment count is high, but there are a few omissions. Full leather seating is confined to the options list and for such a wide car, not having electric folding mirrors as standard is an irritation especially in crowded city streets.
Four adults will be able to travel in great comfort and with plenty of space for their luggage. The rear seats recline and there is the option to have them fitted on runners – useful. Folding them down creates an impressively large and practical load space.
Refinement is one of the Q5’s fortes. There is barely a trace of road or wind noise even at motorway speeds and the diesel engine is pleasantly hushed and is rarely heard.
I undertook a couple of long journeys and each time arrived at my destination relaxed and unruffled. There is no doubt a quiet car is a great boon.
The Q5 feels pleasantly robust, as is the Audi way. Nothing rattles, the doors close with a reassuring ‘thunk’ and everything seems well put together. Much of the technology in the Q5 is tried and tested in other models and should bode well for long term reliability.
Q5 ownership does not come cheap, but the high quality image and desirability does ensure that values remain strong. Be sensible when it comes to the options list, as it is quite easy to add another £10,000 to the purchase price without trying too hard! All versions are well equipped as standard, so some would say leave well alone.
The Q5 is perhaps a car to buy with the head and not the heart. It is an undoubtedly impressive car which does most things well. It is spacious, refined and a lovely way in which to travel.
Ownership does not come cheap, but there is no doubt that if you do take the plunge, you will most certainly be cheerful!
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S line S tronic
Price: £40,290 OTR (£45,210 as tested)
190PS turbodiesel engine
7-speed dual-clutch transmission
0 to 62mph in 7.9 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Combined economy 55.4mpg
Emissions 133g/km CO2