THERE’S not a huge difference in looks between Audi’s original and super-successful Q5 of eight or nine years ago and its latest one – but the underskin changes of the slightly crisper Gen II are remarkable.
Despite the side-on similarity of design, it has an all-new drivetrain that gives better performance, economy and ride, plus a fresh interior with an excellent multimedia system and even more tech.
It’s a handsome medium-sized vehicle with an imposing new Q7-style nose and headlights and comes in three versions: the standard Design spec, from $65,900 the similarly diesel-powered Sport at $4800 extra and Sport with a high-output petrol engine at $73,200.
The Design, as reviewed, has a new and surprisingly quiet 2.0litre turbo-diesel with 140kW and 400Nm on tap and it drives through a completely revised quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Gone is the centre diff, in favour of a twin-clutch set-up that allows the Q5 to disengage drive to the rear wheels when it isn’t needed.
That, in turn, reduces drag and saves fuel.
When the sophisticated torque control system detects wheel slip, up to 100 per cent torque can be sent to either axle.
There’s also a new drive select switch with Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, Auto and Efficiency modes, all pretty much self-explanatory.
The transmission is a re-engineered seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutcher that shifts smoother and faster, and the car has an advanced start-stop system, which Audi says helps it achieve a 12per cent reduction in fuel consumption.
Pop into the leather-trimmed cabin and you feel like a Lotto winner.
The design is classy minimalist, the multipurpose controls reduce the confusion of buttons decorating some rival dashboards, materials quality is excellent and we liked the ambient lighting.
There’s a 7-inch infotainment display with satnav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, eight-speaker digital radio and a central rotary dial making it quick and easy to pick whichever of the Q5s plentiful features you want.
Standard fare includes three-zone climate control with digital rear display and the stereo thingo has a CD player with whatever two SDXC card readers might be.
You can also select various bits from the multifunction steering wheel, which comes with shift paddles if you think you’re smarter than the S-tronic. (You’re not.)
Seating is superb front and rear, likewise visibility and there’s rear cross traffic alert that sees things you can’t in shopping centre car parks.
A powered tailgate, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and Xenon headlights. autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, side assist, eight airbags and the rest of the over-the-top electronic safety items that impress the safety ‘experts.’
The generous 550 litres of cargo space expands to 1550 litres with the back seats folded flat and ours came fitted with an optional $350 rail securing system to keep the goods in place as you whizz through the corners on the way home.
The powertrain takes the Q5 to 100km/h in 7.9seconds and there’s ample power to flatten steep hills or to get past slow traffic quickly and safely.
The brakes are top-class too, with quick straight-line panic stops from 100km/h.
The car runs on 18-inch alloys and has a stable, comforting secure feel through corners, and it cruises the highways with no effort – and impressive economy.
Official stats are 5.3litres/100km, but real world figures on our usual mix of urban, suburban and country driving, reflected 7.1, which we were more than happy with.
- Refined looks
- Quiet, efficient diesel
- Clever transmission
- Classy interior
- Say what?
- The bottom line?
Verdict: Sophisticated, luxurious, beautifully built and classy, without being ostentatious. What’s not to love?