Audi's mid-size SUV is right on Q

The new Audi Q5 is amazing
The new Audi Q5 is amazing

AUDI Q5 2.0 TDi Quattro 190bhp S Line S-Tronic

It says a lot about a car when you just don’t want to get out of it. It could be an R8 with the engine burbling behind you, or a top-spec 7-Series with lounge seats that massage you.

Recently, we got to drive the new Audi Q5 in both SE and S Line trim, and when you’d rather spend time in the cabin than on your couch, you realise how far ahead of the game Audi is with its interiors.

The new Q5 might not look like it’s been given a revolutionary overhaul – and there wasn’t really that much wrong with the previous model. A few nice strokes with the Audi designers’ brush and the Q5 has been moulded into a very appealing SUV.

The one thing we found that really makes this feel new and different is that the Q5 has grown in size. If feels much more substantial and five adults will enjoy plenty of comfort as well as space for a weekend jaunt.

It’s been given a new platform, which it shares with the new A4 and forthcoming A6. It’s lighter by around 90kg and, even though the boot is only 10 litres bigger than before, the 610 litres is capable of swallowing up a lot of luggage.

The major selling point for buyers of SUVs is having that superior feel behind the wheel: A higher driving position, the feeling of being cocooned in a high-tech safety capsule and the knowledge that if the weather changes and a blanket of snow falls, you won’t be left at the bottom of a hill having to sleep in your car.

The area where SUVs usually fall down is the driving stakes. They’re big, bulky machines that were designed to go off-road – that was until the yummy mummies on the school run wanted something big, stylish, comfortable and premium to show off while they left the little nippers off.

Here’s the thing, they don’t have to be boring when it comes to dynamics. Manufacturers are very aware that buyers want an SUV to be capable of driving around a corner without it feeling like a boat and this Q5, especially in the S Line guise, is a very capable SUV that feels more like a sporty hatch than a wishy washy body rolling old-school SUV.

The Q5 we both tested came with a 190bhp 2.0 TDi diesel with S-Tronic auto gearbox. It’s got a decent turn of pace but the 400Nm of torque is what this Q5 is all about.

The mid-range grunt is excellent, and if you stick a trailer or caravan on the back you probably wouldn’t realise it was there.

The Q5 is big and powerful, but it is also highly economical. The range said there was 960kms from a full tank, and after a week on different roads, including a few long motorway journeys, we clocked up 870kms from a tank, averaging around 6.1 litres per 100kms.

We did take issue with one element of this Q5. We’re not big fans of the start/stop systems on cars, and usually switch them off. Yes, it helps the polar bears and trees, but it can be an annoyance when sitting in city traffic with the engine constantly starting and stopping.

In the Q5, though, it had a very odd affect. When stopping in traffic, or at traffic lights, the system does as it should – it stops. When the lights go green and you start moving off, you expect to gather speed quickly, but nope. 

The Q5 lags from the start and then a big chunk of power comes when you plant your foot. It’s a bit weird as we are massive fans of the S-Tronic auto box from Audi. It’s an issue with turning off the stop/start system and in this case it was more a hindrance than a help.

Let’s get back to the good stuff again, and that beautiful interior. 

Car manufacturers have a habit of taking design cues from rivals, so why has nobody even come close to the Audi interiors. 

Here’s the thing, though, Audi keep outdoing themselves as they continue to improve on cabin refinement, fit and finish.

The all-digital Virtual Cockpit instrument display on the S- Line model really is a special bit of kit. Having the Google Earth sat nav in the instrument cluster is a touch of class.

The seven-inch infotainment display sitting on top of the dash, or ‘float’ as Audi likes to say, is like other models, giving a premium look, but it doesn’t fold away like the A3, which is a shame as it’s a neat feature and gives the dash a clean look – we fear an Audi cost-cutting exercise.  

The new Q5 isn’t faultless, but it a brilliant mid-size SUV. Starting at €47k, you’ll be getting one of the class leaders, but you’ll want to dip into your pockets a little deeper as the S Line makes it feel a little bit more special.

Tech Spec:

Model: Audi Q5 2.0TDi Quattro S Line 190bhp S-tronic
Price: from €47,500 (test car €67,022)
Road Tax: €280 per year
0-100kph: 7.9 sec
Max Speed: 218km/h
Fuel Economy: 5.1l/100km (claimed)
Boot Space: 610 litres