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Form an orderly Q. Image by Kyle Fortune.

Form an orderly Q
Audi adds another SUV to its range to take on the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3, and it's a very serious contender.

   



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| First Drive | Valencia, Spain | Audi Q5 |

It has taken Audi a while to come up with a BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander rival, but it seems the Q5 has been worth the wait.

In the Metal

Audi's first attempt at an SUV is a bit of a Marmite affair, the gargantuan Q7's styling really splitting opinion. It seems with its smaller Q5 Audi has taken a more conservative path, its lines very inoffensive. Indeed, aside from the large grille and those LED eyebrows (assuming you've opted for them), the Q5 could be described as a touch ordinary looking. In profile there's hints of the Porsche Cayenne and even its key BMW X3 rival, while around the rear those large lights are reminiscent of those on Ford's Mondeo Estate. You could pore over similarities and differences all day though; the biggest compliment we can give the Q5 is that it's neatly styled and so discreet it's quite possible that it will sneak under the radar of those pesky anti-SUV protesters.

What you get for your Money

It's difficult to say exactly what you'll be getting for your money as Audi has yet to reveal UK prices. We're told it will cost from between 30,000 and 35,000, and you can add as much as 10-15% on that if you start dipping into the options list. What is known is that the UK line-up will be introduced exclusively in SE specification - so you'll get 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control (on six-cylinder models), leather upholstery, light and rain sensors, rear acoustic parking and full body coloured bumpers. The fact that Audi is listing full body coloured bumpers on the SE spec suggests lesser trim levels might do without.

The engine choice at launch also isn't all encompassing. The six-cylinder 3.2-litre petrol engine won't initially be offered. What will be on the price lists is a choice of two 2.0-litre engines, both turbocharged: one diesel and one petrol. Joining them is a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6. All, naturally, feature quattro four-wheel drive.

Driving it

Audi isn't noted, with a few exceptions, of building hugely involving or exciting driving cars, and the Q5 is no different, it not quite able to manage to reach the dynamic heights of its BMW X3 rival. However, the X3 achieves this thanks to a horrific ride, the Audi Q5 offering its tidy handling with decent ride comfort and good body control. In everyday driving then the Q5 comfortably beats its X3 rival. And the Freelander: the Audi is more refined, smoother driving and far better built than its British rival. Some might complain of lack of feel from the Q5's steering, or understeer when pushing hard, but this is an SUV and it drives very nicely indeed for a tall car that's able to go off-road. Not that anyone will of course.

Indeed, the Q5 does such a good job getting down a road, you really could convince yourself you're in nothing bigger than an estate car. That's praise indeed. The engine line-up impresses too, at least the 2.0-litre options do. Both petrol and diesel choices are turbocharged, the 208bhp petrol unit feeling responsive and lively, and the 167bhp 2.0-litre common rail turbodiesel offering nicely linear pulling power along with a smooth-revving and refined nature. The DSG 7-speed automatic on the 2.0-litre petrol works very well indeed, it not quite so convincing on the 3.0-litre turbodiesel, which impresses less than its smaller oil-burning relative.

Worth Noting

Audi has been busy ensuring its new SUV isn't labelled a gas-guzzler. Carbon dioxide emissions in all three launch engines are below 200g/km. Official combined fuel consumption ranges from 32mpg to 42mpg, which is very competitive for a vehicle in this class.

Opt for Audi's top of the range satnav system and there's now a choice to choose the most economical route possible, and if it's hot outside you can keep yourself cool with air conditioning that Audi claims is 20% less power hungry than its rivals.

Summary

Audi has taken a while to reveal its X3 and Freelander rival, but it has spent that time making sure its new car has everything it needs to face off such rivals. The styling is a touch forgettable, but the Q5 drives very nicely, is beautifully built, refined and its engines are economical and low emitting without sacrificing performance. It's not likely to be cheap, especially when you start adding options, but it still promises to be a very strong competitor in the premium compact SUV market.

Kyle Fortune - 14 Jul 2008



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2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.



2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 

2008 Audi Q5. Image by Kyle Fortune.
 






 

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