Audi Q5 review
The Audi Q5 is a premium crossover that rivals the BMW X3 and sits below the larger Q7 in the range
The Audi Q5 sits between the Q3 and Q7 in the range and rivals SUVs like the BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander and Volvo XC60. Some will find its shape a little dull - a bit like a shrunken Q7 or jacked-up A4 Avant - but in the flesh it's very well-proportioned. A recent facelift added sleek new LED lights to S line models and the latest family face, with an upright single frame grille and gloss black inserts. The revamped interior is also well designed, with chrome highlights and a simplified MMI infotainment system. There's a decent amount of space, too, and an optional sliding rear bench that helps to make the most of what's on offer. The 3.0 TDI engine provides storming performance and surprisingly good economy, as does the 2.0 TFSI unit. But it's the 2.0 TDI engine that delivers the best balance of performance and economy. Performance enthusiasts will welcome the arrival of two new variants: a 3.0 TFSI with 268bhp and 400Nm of torque and the range-topping SQ5, which will go from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds.
Our choice: Q5 2.0 TDI SE
The Q5 looks like a scaled down Q7 and, thanks to its smaller dimensions, it'a much less ostentatious than its big brother. However, the big grille is still flanked by glitzy-looking LED headlights, which are optional on all but top-spec S line models. The SE now sits at the bottom of the range, meaning all cars get 18-inch alloys as standard. S line and S line Plus models gain larger wheels, with more agressive bumpers and arches. On the inside, the design and build is just what we’ve come to expect from Audi - its smart layout and high quality materials provide a classy look and feel but it seems dated compared with the stylish wraparound design in the Audi A6. The lastest model gets gloss black dash inserts and chrome trim, as well as tweaks to the steering wheel stalks and instruments.
Both the 2.0 and 3.0-litre TDI engines provide decent performance but the smaller engine is the most economical. The bigger diesel engine comes with Audi's seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission as standard, while the 2.0-litre TDI makes do with a six-speed manual 'box. The company’s clever 2.0-litre TFSI petrol delivers impressive pace, but you will pay the price at the pumps and when you come to sell it. With positive steering and tight body control, the Q5 drives much more like a car than many of its rivals. Ride comfort is firm but well-judged damping handles bumps effectively. However, sportier versions on bigger wheels do feel a tad too firm and the SQ5 TDI, which has a 30mm lower ride height, is the worst of the lot. Its capable but not as rewarding as a BMW X3 or as comfortable as a Land Rover Freelander and has only a light off-road ability as a 4x4.
The Q5 scored a full five-star rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP, scoring 92 per cent for adult occupant protection and 84 per cent for child protection. ESP is standard across the line-up, plus there's also get a six airbags. Audi has a reputation for building reliable cars and it finished a respectable 15th in the 2012 Driver Power survey. What's more, the Q5 is available with a choice of a three, four or five-year warranty.
The Q5 is only average in terms of space, but an optional sliding rear bench seat boosts its practicality. The boot is decently sized, too, with 540 litres or 1,540 litres with the rear seats folded. That said, its steeply raked rear screen restricts its ability to carry really big loads. Standard-fit ESP and hill descent control boost its off-road credentials and all versions come with the brand's pattented quattro four-wheel-drive system but only average ground clearance and no scuff plates the Q5 is best used on the road rather than for venturing off the beaten track.
Although the Q5 is expensive to buy, reasonable CO2 emissions and decent fuel economy - 159g/km and 47.1mpg for the entry-level 2.0 TDI S tronic - mean that running costs are relatively low. Plus, the allure of the Audi badge and the relative rarity of the Q5 will help to ensure very strong resale values, especially if you opt for the 2.0 TDI in SE trim. Go for the SQ5 and fuel economy stands at 41mpg, while CO2 emissions are 179g/km. Audi also offers a range of fixed-price servicing deals, which should help to keep bills to a minimum.