Audi Q5 review - Interior, design and technology
Familiar design cues from the likes of the Audi A4, but the Q5's cabin is smart, functional and beautifully finished
The Q5 is well resolved, with decent proportions. Up front, it adopts the latest version of Audi’s SUV grille with headlights that can feature LED or high-resolution Matrix LED bulbs. The shoulder line along the flanks is consistent and the thinner tail-lights give the rear a muscular, wide look.
It’s clearly an Audi, of course, and closely linked in a dozen ways to the likes of the latest A4 - but this type of evolutionary approach across the range hasn’t put off millions of Audi customers so far, and we don’t expect it to start doing so now.
You can choose from 18- to 21-inch wheels, and in total 14 colours are available in the Q5’s palette. No more than two of these are likely to be solid no-cost choices, with the rest featuring metallic finishes and appearing on the options list.
Inside, the Q5 builds on the dashboard architecture that we’ve seen on the A4 by using a very similar design, but featuring even higher-quality materials. You’ll have to poke around pretty hard before you start finding any unpleasant plastics; everything that’s visible or regularly touched looks and feels superb.
The dashboard is dominated by a central 8.3-inch infotainment screen, while front section of the centre console, ahead of the gear selector, features Audi’s MMI control dial and a touchpad set-up. Standard Q5s will get conventional instrument dials, but Audi’s highly-regarded Virtual Cockpit can replace these with a 12.3-inch digital display.
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The system has slick animations and can also be configured to prioritise the dials in a regular fashion, or shrink them to better display information on navigation or infotainment.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Audi’s MMI infotainment system is one of the best on the market - and the Q5 certainly packs in lots of entertainment features. It’s based on an 8.3-inch screen that’s perched on the front of the centre of the dashboard. Audi doesn’t bother with touchscreen technology, so the system shown on the display is controlled via a rotary dial and a touchpad mounted right at the leading edge of the console between the front seats (this is different on manual-gearbox models, but all UK Q5s get an automatic transmission).
The system itself is easy to use; you can jump between key areas of it by using permanent buttons mounted around the sides of the dial, and there’s handwriting recognition that allows you to scrawl letters of postcodes on the touchpad when you’re teeing up navigation. Voice control also features, in case you want to shout out addresses instead.
The system includes what Audi calls “personal route assist”. This function learns the routes and locations that the owner selects most often, and flags them up based on where the car is then parked and at what time of day this usually occurs. It can then suggest routes and flag up traffic incidents and alternate directions, even if the driver hasn’t actually requested guidance to, for example, their place of work or their home. Audi points out, incidentally, that the feature can be deactivated and all route data deleted if the owner doesn’t want it to be stored in this way.
Audi’s Technology Pack (costing around £1,400) adds a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display behind the wheel in lieu of conventional dials. It’s a great system and well worth the extra outlay. The screen on the dashboard is bright, clear and easy to use, helped by the intuitive MMI control wheel on the centre console. It’s actually more convenient than the Volvo’s touchscreen when you’re on the move.
Audi’s smartphone interface is compatible with Android and iPhone, and it’s offered as standard unlike on some rivals. It’s not quite as seamless as the system Volvo uses, though, because it’s controlled using the wheel rather than a touchscreen system, which is where the rival XC60’s interface comes in handy.
DAB radio and Bluetooth are standard, along with two USB ports for charging up your devices. The 10-speaker stereo can be upgraded to a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker system if you’re willing to hand over £1,300.
In this review
- 1Audi Q5 reviewThe Audi Q5 is refined and comfortable, but other SUV rivals offer a bit more involvement and agility
- 2Engines, performance and driveExcellent cruising refinement, but despite a composed chassis and comfortable suspension, it's not the most involving drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLighter construction, part-time quattro four-wheel drive and revised engines should deliver good efficiency
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingFamiliar design cues from the likes of the Audi A4, but the Q5's cabin is smart, functional and beautifully finished
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceCapable enough, with flexible rear seat configuration as an option - but no better than the class average
- 6Reliability and SafetyNew engines and chassis should bring improved reliability. Plenty of safety kit and a strong NCAP rating provide peace of mind