What stands out?
The second-generation Audi Q5 is a sharp-looking luxury SUV with first-rate smartphone connectivity and a long list of safety features. The mid-sized, five-seat, Q5 rides on a brilliantly efficient all-wheel drive chassis, so that fuel bills will be modest whether you opt for petrol or diesel power. It steers beautifully, and auto braking is standard.
What might bug me?
Admitting to friends that your luxurious German SUV was built in Mexico. Audi says its factory near the town of San Jose Chiapa is the most advanced in the world, however.
That your Q5 does not ride as smoothly as you had hoped on its standard suspension – especially if you have chosen one of the more expensive Q5s, which use very low-profile, 20-inch, tyres. The ride is much more cossetting on Adaptive air suspension, which is an extra-cost option.
Driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat.
That owners of the previous Q5 experienced months of uncertainty after Audi owner Volkswagen Group admitted in September 2015 that diesel engines fitted to some versions could cheat in emissions tests. Audi says all current engines comply with emissions rules.
What body styles are there?
Five-door SUV-style wagon only.
All Q5s drive all four wheels. Audi calls the AWD system in this new-generation Q5 “quattro ultra”. To save fuel, it drives just the front wheels most of the time – engaging the rear wheels automatically when that is helpful. You can also select a “dynamic” drive mode, which draws more on the rear wheels, and an “offroad” mode, which drives all wheels at all times.
The Q5 is classed as a medium SUV, higher priced.
What features come with every Audi Q5?
A sound system with a digital radio, a CD player, Aux and USB inputs, SD card slots, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio streaming, and at least eight speakers, controllable from a 7.0-inch touchscreen.
Support for smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you use some iPhone and Android phone apps from the touchscreen.
Satellite navigation, with voice control.
A smart key, which can remain in your pocket or bag while you unlock the car and drive away. You can also unlock and open the powered tailgate with a swipe of your foot underneath.
Part-leather trim in the cabin, with powered adjustment for the front seats. A leather-trimmed steering wheel, with controls for the sound system, your phone and other cabin functions.
Three-zone climate control, which lets the driver, front passenger and rear passengers set their own ventilation temperatures.
A reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear.
Headlights and windscreen wipers that switch themselves on when required. Cruise control.
Tail-lights and daytime running lights illuminated by very long-lived LEDs.
Ambient lighting, which illuminates the cabin softly at night.
A space-saver spare wheel and tyre, with speed and distance restrictions, and a tyre pressure monitor (which could give you more time to get a slow puncture seen to).
Auto emergency braking (which operates at up to 85km/h). Audi side-assist (a blind-spot monitor), and Cross-traffic assist rear.
Eight airbags. Stability control, which helps you avoid and control skids. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Q5 safety features, please open the Safety section below.)
The Audi Q5 comes with a three-year warranty, with no limit on distance.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is the more fuel-efficient of the two engines available in a Q5, consuming about 5.5 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).
Commonly diesel-powered cars cost more to purchase than their petrol equivalents, but in the Q5 a 2.0 TDI diesel costs less.
The four-cylinder diesel does a workmanlike job in the Q5, cruising comfortably at highway speeds.
The main reason you wouldn’t choose it is that you want more excitement from your premium SUV – and the petrol alternative feels much more exciting.
The 2.0 TFSI turbocharged petrol four-cylinder responds about as well as the diesel when you first press the accelerator. But it goes about 30 per cent harder when you hold your foot down. And it is smoother, lighter, and still commendably frugal – using 7.3 litres/100km on the official test.
Both engines switch themselves off when you stop, to save fuel – starting again when you take your foot off the brake pedal to drive away.
Every Q5 has a seven-speed, dual-clutch, auto gearbox that Audi calls S-tronic.
Dual-clutch gearboxes are excellent once you are moving and save fuel, but they don’t quite match the fluid, elastic response in stop-start traffic (or when parking) that you get from a traditional automatic or CVT auto.
What key features do I get if I spend more?
The Audi Q5 is available at two trim levels – design, and sport – and in diesel (TDI) or petrol (TFSI) form. You can add features as extra-cost options, or in option packs.
Spending as little as possible will get you a Q5 2.0 TDI design, which comes with very bright xenon headlights, 18-inch wheels, the diesel engine, and the features common to all Q5s.
Paying more for a Q5 2.0 TDI sport brings you more side-bolstering on the front seats, to hold you in place better for spirited cornering. The sound system has a subwoofer for a richer tone, maps on the navigation screen are touch-sensitive, and you can play DVDs. A configurable digital instrument panel that Audi calls its virtual cockpit replaces conventional dials. Headlights use bright and very long-lived LEDs, and switch automatically between high and low beam. And you get much bigger – 20-inch – wheels, shod with wider tyres that are significantly lower in profile, a change that sharpens the steering marginally and adds grip on dry roads.
Sport trim also adds several driver-assistance features. The most useful is Adaptive cruise control with Stop and Go, which will reduce your pre-set cruising speed to match vehicles in front until the way becomes clear. In traffic, it can also bring you to a complete stop – and start you off again automatically.
With Adaptive cruise control comes Audi pre-sense front, which extends the collision warning and auto-braking to highway speeds. And there is Turn assist, which inhibits your turning right into the path of an oncoming car.
Spending a bit more again gets you the same features with the petrol engine: a Q5 2.0 TFSI sport.
Among options available at extra cost on any Q5 are a powered sunroof, and a Comfort package (which brings you a power-adjustable steering column and a memory for adjustments to the driver’s seat, among other features).
Among options available only on a Q5 sport (diesel or petrol) are Adaptive damper control and Adaptive air suspension. The former adjusts automatically how the car rides, softening the suspension for sharp bumps and firming it up for smooth corners. The latter, in addition, replaces the standard steel springs with air, and can vary how far off the ground the car rides – a potentially helpful feature if you venture onto rough ground, for example.
Audi also offers Q5 sport buyers a Parking assistance package, which includes a 360-degree camera and an auto-park function. And there is a Technik package, which buys you LED headlights that dip only a part of their multi-element high beams for other drivers (so that you can see better to each side), a 19-speaker sound system from specialist Bang & Olufsen, and a head-up instrument display (which puts a speedo, and navigation instructions, in your line of sight).
Does any upgrade have a down side?
The more expensive Q5 sport models ride more roughly on the standard suspension than the less costly Q5 design, because the low profile tyres on the sports’ larger diameter wheels leave less cushioning air between you and the road.
Two paint colours – white and black – are standard; other exterior colours cost extra.
How comfortable is the Audi Q5?
The Audi Q5 wears its complexity lightly. It’s not intimidating, and it looks simple inside. Simple but beautifully built. Everything feels reassuringly solid, with great materials choices. When you climb into the Q5 and shut the door, you get a reassuring thunk.
You also get great sightlines out of the car. The elevated driving position reduces the intimidation factor of piloting what is quite a big car around town, making it instantly more relaxing.
The dash is well laid out, with about the only grumble being the reach across the centre console required for switching off the engine idle-stop system. Small beer. Otherwise there’s an easy logic to the instrumentation, from the intuitive ventilation system to how rapidly you acclimatise to all of the wheel-mounted controls.
In sport trim, Q5s get sports front seats. These are more deeply bolstered than the seats on the less costly Q5 design, so that you feel more side-support in fast cornering. They also feel ever so slightly narrower across the shoulders – big drivers are advised to consider this when inspecting the car.
Both the petrol and the diesel engines available in the new Q5 feel smooth and quiet, and Audi has put a lot of effort into reducing wind noise at typical highway speeds. The mirrors are particularly good in this regard. They’re big and clear but there’s not a whisper of wind rustle from them. Most SUVs with biggish mirrors sound as if somebody has detuned a radio to static band when you get a hustle on.
The standard suspension feels a little unsettled on anything but the very smoothest bitumen, and this can get wearing. Audi’s optional Adaptive air suspension is a recommended fit.
Ordering Adaptive suspension, with or without the air springs, also means you can tune the ride from inside the car, from favouring comfort to favouring control, using Audi drive select. This standard feature otherwise lets you choose from six driving modes that vary the sensitivity of the Q5 to your control inputs, affecting acceleration, steering, and the behaviour of electronic driver aids.
The new Q5’s steering is virtually beyond reproach, being light yet accurate in Normal mode and then a bit weightier should you switch to Dynamic. Likewise the control pedals are well placed, and the brakes are punchy and responsive without ever feeling grabby or over-eager. The Q5 is an easy car to pilot smoothly, which will help those riding in the back.
What about safety in an Audi Q5?
Every Audi Q5 comes with anti-lock brakes, stability control, eight airbags, seatbelt reminders for all seats, a reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, and a tyre pressure monitor.
In addition, all Q5s have auto-braking, a driver attention monitor, a blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and an exit-warning that helps you avoid opening a door into the path of a cyclist or other vehicle.
And there is the all-weather security of all-wheel drive. It adds up to an unusually comprehensive safety package.
Each front occupant of a Q5 has an airbag in front, and another alongside that protects at chest level from side crashes. Outer rear passengers have chest-level side-airbags also. And curtain airbags extend down each side of the car, protecting the heads of those in both front and rear seats.
The standard autonomous emergency braking system is called Audi pre-sense city. It relies on a camera-based sensor, and can detect pedestrians. The system will warn you of a collision risk (typically with a car ahead that has slowed suddenly), and if you do not react it can automatically initiate a full emergency stop. Audi says that at speeds up to 40km/h (depending on road conditions) it can avoid a collision altogether, and at up to 85km/h it will at least slow you before impact.
The driver attention monitor assesses your condition from how you control the car, and alerts you if you show signs of fatigue.
Audi side-assist tells you if another vehicle is lurking near your rear corner in an adjacent lane, possibly not showing up in your mirrors. Its radar-based sensors also look further behind, for cars attempting to overtake.
Cross-traffic assist rear uses the same radar sensors when you are reversing (from a supermarket car park perhaps), to check for traffic approaching your path from the side.
In sport trim, the Q5 also brings you Audi pre sense front, which extends the collision warning and auto-braking range to 250km/h with the aid of a radar-type sensor. At highway speeds it can brake automatically but it won’t apply maximum pressure.
Sport versions of the Q5 also have Audi turn-assist. This feature monitors traffic when you indicate to make a right-hand turn. Should you attempt distractedly to turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle, it can apply the brakes to keep you out of harm’s way.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Audi Q5 five stars for safety, its maximum, in June 2017.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?
If there’s an easier mid-sized SUV to drive than the Audi Q5, we’d be surprised. But if you’re a driver who’s been known to look for the twistiest route home, you’re not going to feel short-changed.
The 2.0 TDI diesel engine is very tractable. Couple it with the seven-speed S-tronic transmission and it’s rarely in the wrong gear. If you really want to keep it on the boil, the wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow you to take control.
Keener drivers will probably choose the 2.0 TFSI petrol version instead though, as it’s a bit lighter on its feet and feels a good deal more sprightly.
Part of that is down to the difference in weight of the two engines. The diesel unit is about 50kg heavier and, yes, you can feel that extra weight when you turn the car into a corner. The petrol engine doesn’t have the instant pull of the diesel when you first touch the accelerator, but if you set the Audi drive select to Dynamic or use the paddle shifters yourself, it will really sing.
Both engines are turbocharged, and so petrol and diesel Q5s have genuine overtaking punch to reduce your time in the oncoming lane.
The new Q5’s clever “quattro ultra” chassis software analyses your driving. If it detects that you’re driving in a spirited manner, it instantly places more emphasis on sending drive to the rear wheels. Rejoin the freeway after a quick back-road blast and it will revert to favouring front-wheel drive. You can even download an app that tells you what percentage of your drive was performed with all wheels driven.
Roadholding is extremely good, and the stability control system is very well calibrated. At one point during Audi’s media launch event we entered a corner to find that, about three-quarters of the way around, a farm vehicle had pulled a thick coating of wet mud onto the road. This would have provoked quite a moment in some cars. The Q5 gave an almost imperceptible shimmy as the stability control nipped at the brake on the inside rear wheel, and then carried on. Very impressive.
The Q5 is designed only for light-duty off-road driving – think gravel tracks or snow-covered roads. It does not have the underbody protection, wheel articulation or extra-low gearing of dedicated off-roaders. And its space-saver spare tyre is all but useless off-road.
How is life in the rear seats?
Rear shoulder width, headroom, and legroom are all better than in the previous Q5. The rear doors open fairly wide too, which is going to help when fixing child seats into the back. The seat cushions are fairly firm but lateral support isn’t bad.
Part of the extra-cost Comfort package is a rear seat that slides fore and aft and reclines. It helps justify investing in the package if you’re frequently carrying tall teens or adults.
Thankfully Audi has resisted the urge to try to cram seven seats into the Q5, which makes the rear a good deal more liveable. There’s a rear centre folding armrest, with two cupholders and a folding compartment to keep things tidy. The three-zone air-conditioning helps those in the back keep themselves comfortable.
How is it for carrying stuff?
There’s plenty of storage for oddments up front, with two front cupholders, big door bins, a moveable compartment over the transmission tunnel, and the same in the rear. The rear seat splits 40-20-40, allowing you to carry a long item while still seating four people. The optional sliding rear seat can move back and forth over a 12cm range, which allows you to prioritise either luggage or legs.
The luggage bay features a super-low loading lip, and there’s 550 litres of capacity to the parcel shelf height. By way of comparison, that’s exactly the same as a BMW X3 and a Mercedes-Benz GLC. Fold the rear seats down and there’s up to 1550 litres available. Should you specify the sliding rear seats, you can get three people and 610 litres of luggage behind you.
The adaptive air suspension also allows a slick little trick too. Press a button in the side of the luggage compartment and the rear of the car drops by 15mm, making it easier to lift heavy items in.
The tailgate has a powered open/close function, and it’s possible to tailor how high the tailgate opens – so that it doesn’t get intimately acquainted with the ceiling in your garage.
Should you wish to tow something, the Q5 is legally rated up to 2000kg. However it might well be worth talking through this with your dealer, as specification changes can alter towing capacities.
Where does Audi make the Q5?
The Audi Q5 is built at a new plant in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico. Useless fact here: the Mexican plant is Audi’s highest altitude production facility, at 2400m.
More than a billion euros was spent in developing the plant, which Audi says includes the most eco-friendly paint shop on the American continents. The company also says this is the world’s most advanced vehicle manufacturing plant.
What might I miss that similar cars have?
Not much. Some alternatives ride better on their standard suspension - the Volvo XC60, Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport spring to mind.
If you want more pace, Audi will sell you its very powerful SQ5 sports version of the Q5.
If you want more in the way of off-road ability, we’d lean towards a Discovery Sport.
If you love the engineering behind the Q5 but would like something a bit different, there’s also the mechanically very similar Audi A4 allroad wagon.
Among other mid-size premium SUVs worth considering are the Mercedes GLC and BMW X3.
Are there plans to update the Q5 soon?
This second-generation Audi Q5 arrived in July 2017, and so a replacement will be some time away.
Looking at the development cycle for the superseded Q5, Audi left it four years before they did a mid-life facelift and that model then lasted another five years or so. In other words, this latest Q5 design’s got some legs in it.
About the only change we can see on the horizon is the introduction of a diesel version of the SQ5 sports version.
I like this car, but I can’t choose which version. Can you help?
While the diesel does have its merits, and is available in a more affordable design trim level, we’d be prepared to dig a bit deeper and choose sport trim and the petrol-engined Q5. To that we’d add the adaptive air suspension. That’s all you really need. If you’re feeling a bit flush, the Technik package with the Adaptive headlights, head-up display and lovely Bang & Olufsen stereo would be a tempter. Try to avoid specifying larger alloy wheels, as this degrades the ride quality.
That set up would land you a handsome, fast, safe, comfortable and well-equipped SUV with genuine all-weather security. The elusive one car that fits almost all situations? You could be looking at it here.