Audi Q5 review
The Audi Q5 is a premium crossover that rivals the BMW X3 and sits below the larger Q7 in the range
When the Audi Q5 was launched in 2008, it cemented the manufacturers position in the off-roader sales charts. It sits between the Q3 and Q7 in the line-up, and rivals SUVs like the BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander and Volvo XC60. Some will find its shape a little dull – it’s a bit like a shrunken Q7 or jacked-up A4 Avant - but in the flesh it's very well proportioned. The 2012 facelift added sleek new LED headlights to S line models, as well as 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, more intuitive 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. But it's the 2.0 TDI engine that delivers the best mix of performance and economy. If you’re looking for a high-performance model, the 3.0 TFSI with 268bhp and 400Nm of torque and the range-topping 349bhp SQ5 offer serious pace.
Our choice: Q5 2.0 TDI SE
The Q5 looks like a scaled down version of Q7 but, thanks to its smaller dimensions, it's a much less ostentatious than its big brother. However, it’s still far from subtle. The big grille is flanked by glitzy daytime running lights that surround the headlamp units and are optional on all but top-spec S line models. As for specifications, entry-level SE cars come with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, while S line and S line Plus models get even larger wheels, with more aggressive bumpers and arches. The interior design and quality is exactly what we have come to expect from Audi, with a sleek and intuitive layout and plenty of high quality materials. It looks and feels classy but does seem a bit dated, especially when compared with the stylish wraparound design in the latest Audi A6. The facelift brought new gloss black dash inserts and chrome trim, as well as tweaks to the steering wheel stalks and instruments.
Thanks to its accurate steering and tight body control, the Q5 drives much more like a car than many of its rivals. It’s not quite as rewarding to drive as the BMW X3 nor as comfortable as the Land Rover Freelander, but it is capable. The ride is a bit firm but well-judged damping ensures it handles bumps effectively. However, sportier versions on bigger wheels do feel too firm and the SQ5 TDI, which has a 30mm lower ride height, is the worst of the lot. The 2.0 and 3.0-litre TDI engines provide decent performance, with the latter also benefitting from the manufacturer’s seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission as standard, while the 2.0-litre TDI has to make do with a six-speed manual 'box. The company’s clever 2.0-litre TFSI petrol also delivers impressive pace, but you will pay the price at the pumps and when you come to sell it. The petrol-engined SQ5 is powered by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6, which develops 349bhp and 470Nm of torque. It comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system. But it’s the diesel version that’s most impressive. That comes with a 309bhp 3.0-litre engine that develops a massive 650Nm of torque, for a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds (0.2 faster than the petrol version) and yet has an official average fuel consumption figure 41.5mpg and emissions of 179g/km.
Audi scores consistently well in customer satisfaction surveys, and the brand finished 10th in the 2013 Driver Power survey, with an overall rating of 83.12 per cent leaving it five whole places ahead of BMW. The Q5 is a little too niche to feature in our Top 100, but the latest A6 scored an impressive 27th with good results in the build quality and ease of driving categories. The issues that held it back seem to be its higher than expected running costs, harsh ride quality and disappointing levels of in-car tech, which are all problems that could apply to the Q5. However, it is available with a choice of a three, four or five-year warranty, which should help keep costs under control. As for safety, the Q5 scored a full five-star rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP, with a score of 92 per cent for adult occupant protection and 84 per cent for child protection. ESP is standard across the line-up, along with six airbags and a whole host of clever safety kit.
Although the Q5 doesn’t offer any more space than its rivals, it does benefit from a couple of neat touches that give it an edge in this category. The best feature is the optional sliding rear bench, which allows you to choose between more legroom and more boot space as required. The boot is generous, too, with 540 litres or 1,540 litres with the rear seats folded. It’s just a shame that the steeply raked rear screen restricts its ability to carry really big loads. If you’re planning on heading off road, you’ll be grateful for the standard ESP and hill descent, as well as the brand's quattro four-wheel-drive system, which is fitted to every model in the line-up. However, ground clearance is only average and there are no scuff plates, which means the Q5 is best used on the road rather than for venturing off the beaten track.
Although the Q5 is expensive to buy, it shouldn’t prove too expensive to run. The entry-level 2.0 TDI S tronic has an official fuel consumption figure of 47.1mpg and emits 159g/km of CO2, which means that running costs are relatively low. That said, even the 3.0 TDI is said to manage 44.1mpg and emissions of 169g/km, which is reasonable given the performance on offer and the sheer size of the Q5. The most expensive model to run, though, is the petrol SQ5 as that can only manage 33.2mpg and 199g/km respectively. As for other costs, Audi offers a range of fixed-price servicing deals, which should help to keep bills to a minimum. 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.