Audi Q5 SUV (2016 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Parkers on
Last Updated: 12 Apr 2017
4.2
Despite its same-again looks suggesting otherwise, the second-generation Audi Q5 SUV is based on different underpinnings, with A5 Coupe-aping voluptuousness along the flanks, and a chunkier Q7-esque grille lending an aggressive air to the front end. Depending on the model, it’s also shed up to 90kg of heft.

4.5 out of 5

Performance

  • 2.0-litre petrols and diesels for the mainstream range
  • Petrol power for SQ5 performance version
  • V6 TDI due in 2017; lower-powered models may follow

From launch, only a pair of 2.0-litre engines – one petrol, the other diesel – were available, but during 2017 performance for the Audi Q5 range was uplifted with the introduction of the SQ5.

Efficient TDI diesel

The mainstay of the Audi range for years now has been 2.0-litre diesels, so it’s no surprise that a 190hp version fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch S Tronic automatic gearbox and part-time Quattro Ultra all-wheel drive is expected to be the most popular choice.

Peak torque of 400Nm is available low down in the rev range – from 1,750-3,000rpm – making it easier to access the Q5’s accelerative power from low speed; great for exiting junctions or completing safe overtaking manoeuvres. That power delivery feels linear with only a slight lag from the turbocharger.

Top speed is 135mph, while the 0-62mph sprint takes 7.9 seconds, so it’s hardly slow.

It’s also pleasantly refined, although its quietness was accentuated by the double-glazed side windows on our test cars.

Like many vehicles fitted with dual-clutch transmissions, the S Tronic can prove hesitant when pulling away from a standstill or crawl, while the software gets the transmission’s act together. This can prove disconcerting at roundabouts, and was more apparent in the diesel than the TFSI petrol.

You do learn to drive around it, though, and for most buyers this TDI is the engine to go for.

Punchier TFSI petrol motor

Audi expects up to 40% of UK buyers to choose the turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI petrol powerplant for their Q5s – a point amplified by fears among London residents that extra charges could be levied against diesel-engined cars.

It’s also the pick of the 2.0-litre range for those seeking to maximise performance rather than lower their running costs: 252hp and 370Nm of torque from 1,600-4,500rpm ensures it’s a very flexible performer, gathering momentum impressively and progressively.

Audi quotes a top speed of 147mph and a hot hatch-like 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a hushed mechanical unit, erring on the side of raspiness rather than screaming for mercy when you press on harder.

Petrol power for second-generation SQ5

While the first SQ5 employed a diesel engine, this time around it shares the same 3.0-litre V6 TFSI 354hp powerplant with the related A4 and S5 models.

There’s 500Nm of torque on tap from 1,370rpm through to 4,500rpm, enough for a 0-62mph time of 5.4 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

No S Tronic twin-clutch gearbox here: the SQ5 uses an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic instead to cope with the extra torque, sending drive to all four wheels via a full-time Quattro system.

Future Q5 engine options

During 2017 a 3.0-litre V6 TDI will augment the diesel offering, complete with a Tiptronic fully automatic gearbox and permanent Quattro four-wheel drive.

There’s a possibility that a pair of lower-powered 2.0-litre TDIs may also make it to the UK in due course - the 150hp edition also available with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive - but these aren’t part of any immediate plan.

Audi remains tight-lipped about the prospect of either a plug-in hybrid or fully-electric e-tron version of the Q5, but we do expect a racier RS Q5 during this model’s life cycle.

4 out of 5

Handling

  • Handling is very competent but not exactly fun
  • Ride quality with optional air suspension impresses
  • Two modes for off-roading increase the Q5’s appeal

You won’t choose an Audi Q5 because it offers the most thrilling driving experience in the segment, but its handling characteristics are well-balanced and conducive to making brisk progress in comfort.

There’s one significant caveat here – all of the Q5s we’ve driven so far have been fitted with the excellent, but optional, adaptive air suspension system. Models fitted with standard steel springs and conventional dampers, as well as adaptive ones, will be sampled on poorly-surfaced UK roads, as will the high-performance SQ5.

Audi Drive Select is standard across the range allowing various aspects of the Q5’s handling parameters – throttle response, transmission shift pattern and steering response - to be varied or mixed depending upon personal preferences.

Steering’s one area Audi’s suffered with criticism in the past, but this Q5 – along with the A4 and A5 ranges it shares its underpinnings with – have come on significantly. There’s an enhanced degree of feel through the wheel itself, more so when you switch to Dynamic mode, although we would have liked a bit more weight in this setting.

The ride height of the air suspension is also controlled via the Drive Select system by toggling between its different modes.

Most will keep it in Auto for the majority of the time, but Comfort’s great for traversing poorly surfaced asphalt or plying motorways with ease, isolating you further from the outside world. It still feels controlled and composed, though, not suffering with the same degree of floatiness you’ll experience in a similarly equipped Mercedes GLC-Class.

Dynamic mode sharpens up the Q5’s responses, reining in bodyroll that bit further, yet while its immediately firmer, it’s not jarringly so – sharper ruts still feel as though their edges have been rounded off. Flicking to this mode also lowers the car by 15mm.

If you’re intending to venture off the beaten path with your Q5, then the Allroad (increases the ride height by 25mm) and Offroad (a further 20mm higher) modes will get plenty of use, increasing ground clearance to make traversing trickier terrain something you can do confidently.

In these modes the ride quality isn’t as soft but feeling those extra bumps and crevices keeps you more attuned to the surface conditions.