In Depth

Audi Q5 SUV 2017: Specs, prices and reviews

A revamped interior inspired by the Q7 and a lighter platform feature on the second-generation car

Audi has launched a second-generation version of its Q5, entering in the middle of the brand's four model-strong SUV range.

The exterior tweaks to the car are subtle, but the angular grille and headlights now match other new models in the Audi line-up. It also sits on a lighter producing platform and will be offered, for the first time on a Q5, with a front-wheel drive variant which should make it more economical to run.

However, the biggest improvements can be found on the inside. The mid-size SUV has an interior inspired by its larger Q7 sibling and includes Audi's Virtual Cockpit system - again, another first for the Q5 range.

It will break into a highly competitive market, which includes the critically acclaimed Jaguar F-Pace and BMW's X3. New releases, such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Renault Koleos, will also be competitive entries in the sector when they arrive later this year.

Here's everything you need to know about the Audi Q5.

Design

The updated Q5 takes design inspiration from the Q3 and Q7, with a large, angular, chromed grille at the front flanked by LED headlights. 

It's not a radical redesign. The car's overall silhouette is the same, but has stronger shoulder lines, larger wheel arches and a lower roofline. As standard, the Q5 will ride on 17ins alloy wheels, although wheels as big as 21ins will be available as optional extras.

Although the Q5 looks pretty familiar, it makes use of the Volkswagen Group's MLB platform, which also underpins the A4 saloon. That means that the second-generation Q5 is almost 200lbs lighter than the model it replaces.

Interior and practicality

Auto Express says the car's cabin has seen some of the biggest changes, even though it's the same horizontal design format you'll find on other new Audis.

The Q5 seats five people and the makeover brings improved materials, a lot more choice for finishes and much more interior space thanks to a longer wheelbase. Knee and legroom have been significantly improved for rear occupants.

As standard, the dashboard comes with a seven-inch infotainment screen, but range-topping models will get a 8.3ins display. Audi's Virtual Cockpit system – the large 12.3ins screen placed behind the driver's wheel - replaces the instrument binnacle with virtual and customisable dials and puts sat nav maps right in front of the driver.

The boot ranges from 550 litres to 610 litres, depending on seat position. Folding the rear bench down opens up a 1,550-litre loading bay.

Technology

Range-topping models can be specced with an 8.3ins display, which is available in the MMI navigation with MMI touch package.

Along with the larger infotainment display, Audi has fitted a touchpad into the rotary dial used to navigate the menus, making it easier to make quick commands. It can also recognise handwriting entries - a handy feature for entering in postcodes into the nav system - and zoom in on maps in the same manner as on a smartphone. 

Personal Route Assist is also an option, a system previously only available on the Q7 and A4. It can learn your most common destinations, even if the sat nav isn't on, and offer optimised routes to cut down on travel time.

Other tech highlights include a wi-fi hotspot for up to eight devices, optional Bang & Olufsen hi-fi speakers and the rear-seat Audi tablet infotainment system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also available to allow drivers to sync their smartphone to their Q5's nav system.

Safety and driver assists 

Some of the most important new technologies on the 2017 Q5 are driver assists and safety features. The car will get adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistance to steer, accelerate and brake automatically in slow moving traffic. On motorways, a lane keep assist function will automatically help keep you between the lines too. 

Audi will also offer collision avoidance systems. Its "Pre-Sense City" automatic emergency braking system can detect vehicles and pedestrians in your path and execute an emergency stop if it's safe and necessary to do so. It comes as standard equipment. There's also cross-traffic assist, which uses radar to warn of unseen hazards when you're pulling out into traffic. 

Traffic sign recognition and park assist also feature, alongside a predictive efficiency assistant which can boost fuel economy. 

Engines and drivetrain

The Q5 comes with five engine choices – four diesels and a turbocharged petrol.

The basic diesel is a 2.0-litre TDI available in three states of tune – an entry-level 148bhp engine with more powerful 161bhp and 187bhp versions above it. These will be the bread and butter of the range.

Audi claims the reworked 2.0-litre TDI is much more efficient, thanks to a significant reduction in fuel consumption, although much of this will be down to the front-wheel drive and a 198lbs (90kg) weight reduction over its predecessor. A six-speed manual or a seven-speed S-Tronic automatic gearbox will be available, as well as the choice of the new Quattro Ultra all-wheel drive system.

Arriving a little later than the 2.0-litre diesels will be a six-cylinder 3.0-litre option, with 283bhp and 457lb-ft of torque.

If you'd like a petrol Q5, the 2.0-litre TFSI will be available from launch. It produces 248bhp and a claimed 41.5mpg.

Prices and release                                     

Audi confirmed the Q5 will arrive in UK showrooms at some point in spring 2017 and order books could open late this year. UK prices have not yet been revealed, but CarBuyer expects them to kick off from £39,000.

Audi Q5 first drive

The Week joined Audi for the international launch of the Q5 in Mexico, where twisting back roads, pitted gravel tracks and pristine highways provided the ideal testing ground

The new SUV looks sharper and more purposeful than its predecessor – and that urgency is evident behind the wheel, too. The 3.0-litre TDI is particularly punchy – helpful for overtaking the dilapidated American saloon cars that make up much of the traffic at the southern tip of Mexican California. The 2.0-litre petrol version is also swift and smooth, and both models feel comfortable and refined on adjustable air suspension (an optional extra).

Adaptive cruise control, which varies your speed to keep you in sync with the car in front, takes some of the strain out of motorway driving, as does the high driving position. But the biggest step forward inside the cabin is Audi's Virtual Cockpit – a customisable 12-inch flatscreen instead of a dashboard and a head-up display at the base of the windscreen. 

It looks slick and futuristic while being practical at the same time: having your speed and sat nav directions beamed on to the glass means your eyes no longer flit from road to dashboard to centre console. 

The rest of the interior is equally well thought out, and the build quality is hard to fault. The only compromise is that the back seats, while roomier than they were, still feel less spacious than might be expected given the overall size of the car.

That's a result of the swooping roofline, which trades interior space for class-leading aerodynamics and efficiency. Combined fuel economy for the 2.0-litre TDI model is 57.7mpg – impressive for a mid-size SUV.

Audi's clever Quattro Ultra system, available on all but the 3.0-litre diesel car, keeps fuel consumption down by switching between two- and four-wheel-drive, depending on how and where you're driving. On the motorway or pootling around town, only the front wheels are powered and the rear prop-shaft disengages, allowing the back wheels to coast.

As soon as you put your foot down, or hit a patch of sand or ice, the system re-engages the rear wheels and restores full four-wheel-drive. The change happens in 200 milliseconds and is imperceptible – unless you're an Audi engineer with an iPad plugged into the Q5's electronic brain.

Driving out of the town of San Jose del Cabo, the iPad read-out revealed the Q5 selected two-wheel-drive more than 70 per cent of the time - but that number plummeted as we turned off the main road and on to a rutted dirt track that bisects the Baja California peninsula.

On rough ground, pushed way beyond the needs of most Q5 owners, the car is poised and stable. Cocooned in the leather-clad, air-sprung cabin, it's easy to forget that beneath your feet the wheels are hammering away over treacherous ruts and rocks.

You may never need that kind of performance. But if the morning school run is getting you down, it may be comforting to know that your car could take you almost anywhere else.

Reviews

While the Q5 car won't arrive on sale for another six months or so, first-drive reviews are already in.

Auto Express kicks off by saying the second generation will pick up where its predecessor left off as one of the most popular premium SUVs on sale. It's a worthy rival to the likes of the BMW X2 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, adds the mag, and although not thrilling, it's an excellent family cruiser.

"It offers a comfortable, refined driving experience, but doesn’t quite match the X3 or Jaguar F-Pace for driver involvement," it says.

However, Auto Express adds that the quality of the car's interior and infotainment options compensates for the lack of excitement and that the four-cylinder diesel engines will be the ones to go for at launch.

What Car? thinks much the same, concluding that the Q5 is a "very comfortable car, with a smooth, forgiving ride" but a mid-sized SUV that won't trouble the Porsche Macan or Jaguar F-Pace for thrills.

Again, the interior is the car's trump card. "No rival can live with its quality feel, ease-of-use, or its technology," says the site, and overall, it should be at the sharp end of the SUV market when it arrives.

While "it's hard to love the latest Audi Q5", says CarBuyer, it does "so much, so well there's a lot to like".

It's when driving the car that you see how much work has gone into developing the chassis, even though it looks very similar to old model, says the site. The previous Q5 often felt unforgiving on rough terrain or on bad road surfaces, but that's been rectified by the new model, with minimal body lean through the corners and a noticeably more comfortable drive on bumpy roads. 

Car magazine says buyers will feel "suitably smug" as manufacturers rarely produce cars as polished as Audi's mid-size SUV. 

Air suspension is a welcome addition and helps the Q5 deal with mixed conditions "better than ever", the mag adds, and although it's not a "go-anywheremobile" like a Range Rover, the extra inch in ride height via the Allroad mode is enough to protect it from large rocks. 

As for its handling, Car says the Q5 is clearly a step above the outgoing model, but there's room for improvement "with sportier Q5s prefixed with S and RS" badges. 

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