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First drive: Audi Q5. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi Q5
All new Audi Q5 for 2017 offers no surprises, but who needs 'em?


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2017 Audi Q5

4 4 4 4 4

Audi has taken a predictably sensible approach to replacing its big-selling Q5 SUV, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. Somehow it has made everything a little better than before.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi Q5 3.0-litre V6 TDI SE
Price: to be confirmed
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
Power: 286hp
Torque: 620Nm

What's this?

Very obviously a Q5; Audi didn't exactly challenge its designers when replacing its big-selling mid-sized SUV. It's built on the old car's strengths, but the exterior lines are a bit bolder, its proportions a bit bigger, the lights neater and the grille more assertive. Not radical then, but it didn't need to be, as the Q5's appeal was far from waning even seven years after its introduction - sales have increased every year since it was launched. This new car has the task of building on that, so it's very much a case of improve here and there, without disrupting its overall appeal.

There's a new platform underneath and the lengthened wheelbase improves interior space front and rear, as well as allowing for a more spacious boot. There's 'quattro ultra' for the four-cylinder models and a choice of four suspension set ups spanning the conventional spring and damper, a sport version of that, another adding variable dampers and an all-singing, all-dancing air suspension system with variable ride height, configurable via Audi's Drive Select. There are new engines too, though the four-cylinder 2.0-litre TDI diesel will be the inevitable big seller. That's for another day as Audi only brought along the 286hp 3.0-litre V6 TDI and 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged petrol units for our early drive of pre-production cars in Mexico where it's built.

How does it drive?

Like the styling, there are no surprises here, so the Q5 is not about to set any benchmarks for driver appeal, but likewise neither is it likely to disappoint its intended audience. Competence defines the Q5; it rides well, grips well and there clearly is a talented and able chassis underneath it. The engineers have worked hard to reduce overall and unsprung weight, to the obvious benefit of ride quality. The steering might lack feedback, but it's accurate enough, the predictable surefootedness and ease by which the Q5 gets you down the road arguably a large part of its appeal. You'll have more fun elsewhere in the sector, but it's difficult to argue with 1.6 million sales and counting - Audi knows its target audience.

The engines are similarly competent, the new 3.0-litre V6 TDI quick, and for the most part quiet (low-rev chatter betraying its tipple of diesel), the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol being smooth to all but the last reaches of the rev counter's dial. The transmissions they're mated to work with similarly unobtrusive ease and effectiveness, the larger TDI engine's torque output such that it drives an eight-speed conventional torque convertor automatic with permanent four-wheel drive, while the four-cylinder petrol version makes do with Audi's quattro ultra system, which decouples drive to the rear axle whenever possible in a bid to improve economy.

You'll not notice it do so; likewise the seven gears swapping via the S tronic twin-clutch automatic are done imperceptibly. The Q5 majors on refinement, both from its driveline and its ability to cleave through the air and suppress road noise. All commendably comfortable and easy, then, as you'd expect, sitting in a cabin that's bigger and even better built than before - the design and material quality, not to mention the ease of operability, cement Audi's position as the authority on making car interiors.


We've no numbers to back up our findings on Audi's new Q5, as we're in it so early that they've yet to be homologated. Rest assured though that the Q5 will match and better its key rivals when it comes to efficiency and emissions, while the equipment count and pricing will be similarly competitive. There's some hope for those of you sold on the idea of a Q5 but wanting a bit more excitement, as Audi's engineers let slip that the 3.0 V6 TDI allows for as many as three turbochargers (one being electric) while the platform can accept rear-wheel steering and the 48-volt chassis system that allows active ride and a degree of mild hybrid integration. They're not admitting it yet, but the inevitable SQ5 version might be so equipped, but until that arrives the millions of existing and potential new customers for the Q5 are unlikely to be disappointed with what Audi is offering in its new SUV, nor should they be, as it's pretty much spot on.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain

Kyle Fortune - 7 Oct 2016    - Audi road tests
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2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.

2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.2017 Audi Q5. Image by Audi.


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