| First Drive | Munich, Germany | Audi Q5 3.0 TDI 245 |
Model tested: Audi Q5 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic 245
Pricing: from £37,635 on-the-road
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, Volvo XC60
CO2 emissions: 169g/km
Combined economy: 44.1mpg
Top speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Power: 245hp at 4,000- to 4,500rpm
Torque: 580Nm at 1,750- to 2,750rpm
In the Metal:
Audi's new Q5 has received a mild visual freshen up, though it could go unnoticed if you don't opt for one of the new colours or wheel designs - or indeed the snazzy Xenon plus lights with their distinctive LED daytime running lamps front and rear. The bonnet and front bumper are new, while the large grille has been re-profiled. Minor tweaks to the rear include a slight change to the lights and exhaust outlets, plus a restyle of the under-bumper 'diffuser'.
Changes to the interior are even more restrained, focused on enhancing the already high perceived quality and offering more personalisation options in terms of trim materials and colours. The instruments have been tweaked and the MMI interface is simplified. As ever it's a high-quality offering.
There have been few changes to the Q5's chassis. Audi has altered the spring and damper settings and added electromechanical power steering across the line-up. It's for efficiency rather than any on-road benefit and the steering isn't an aspect of the revised car we'd get excited about. The base model is comfortable and everything it does is smooth, from the suspension to its noise suppression and the operation of its clutch and gearbox. The latter, a six-speed manual unit, is long of throw, but it's not a car you hustle along in any case. There's adequate performance from the entry-level 143hp engine, though you need to extend it if you want to keep up decent pace cross-country. Do so and, while it is commendably vibration-free, it doesn't sound all that good. It's best suited to a life on the motorway with the cruise control set. The 3.0-litre TDI unit is a gem though, hushed most of the time and sounding good when it's not quiet. It's effortlessly quick as well giving the Q5 real flexibility on the open-road. We'd prefer the Tiptronic automatic to the S tronic dual-clutch unit, but even so it's a great package.
The Q5 handles in a tidy, safe manner and the quattro four-wheel drive system enhances security on the road - it's difficult to force the Q5 into putting a wheel wrong - even with the electronic nannies turned off. 'Dynamic's suspension is standard in the UK and it improves the Q5's body control over the softer settings offered in other countries, but it is less comfortable over all - especially on larger alloy wheels.
What you get for your Money:
Audi offers SE, S line and S line plus levels. Somewhat surprisingly, it reckons that the majority (42 per cent) will pay for the top level - indicating that it's a highly style-lead market. At a minimum the Q5 has 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, a leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, three-zone climate control and auto lights and wipers.
For a £2,400 premium S line versions add sports seats in Nappa leather, 19-inch alloys, a choice of standard or sports suspension, S line styling bits inside and out and those Xenon and LED lights.
An extra £2,500 for S line plus buys 20-inch rims, satnav, Audi parking system plus, an electric tailgate, privacy glass and metallic paint.
Audi produces a very wide range of engines for the Q5, but not all are offered in the UK. We tried out the Q5 Hybrid, which mates an electric motor with a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine. The same powertrain is used in the A8 Hybrid, but it suits the SUV better, where it's fast and refined. Peak system power is 245hp, yet it manages 41mpg on the combined cycle.
At launch, diesel buyers have the option of this 3.0 TDI model and a 2.0-litre unit with 177hp - also partnered with the S tronic transmission. A manual gearbox will be offered with this in time, as will a 143hp variant - though it appears that the UK will not get any front-wheel drive versions.
Petrol alternatives are both TFSI engines, of 2.0- and 3.0-litre capacities, putting out 225- and 272hp respectively. At launch the excellent Tiptronic transmission is offered, though the 2.0-litre petrol unit will gain a manual gearbox in time, along with a cheaper 180hp option.
The Audi Q5 is one of those rare models that gets more popular the older it gets, and it outsells the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 across Europe - including the UK. Against that background the relatively minor updates make sense. Though the Q5 isn't outstanding in any one area it remains one of the most desirable cars in the class. Will that be enough to fend off the Range Rover Evoque?