We really love the 3.0 TDI 286. This V6 diesel engine has 282bhp, so it positively romps off down the road the moment you put your foot down. It’s effortlessly quick in more relaxed, everyday driving, too. That’s down to the enormous shove it generates from low revs, coupled with the responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox that has a knack of finding the right gear for every situation.
However, with our sensible hat on, the 187bhp 2.0 TDI diesel is the engine to go for. It’s not outright quick, but it will match or better rivals with equivalent 2.0 engines (such as the BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport) for straight-line pace. There’s enough oomph on hand to breeze you up to motorway speeds with little drama, although the seven-speed automatic gearbox that comes with this engine can be a bit slow-witted when pulling away from junctions.
The 2.0 TFSI 252 petrol wouldn’t be our first choice, but it’s worth pondering if you don't want a diesel. This four-cylinder engine revs keenly and feels genuinely lively on the move. Being turbocharged, it’s flexible, too, happily pulling strongly from low revs, much like a diesel.
If you want seriously rapid performance, though, only the SQ5 will do. You can read about it in detail by clicking on the name.
There are no fewer than four suspension options on the Q5. All trims (apart from the SQ5) have comfort dynamic suspension as standard – this consists of steel springs and passive dampers. The S Sport suspension that's a no-cost option on S line trim is fundamentally the same, but a little stiffer.
We found both set-ups deliver a slightly firmer ride than we'd like along battered urban streets, although S Sport suspension exacerbates this slightly. Still, things smooth out nicely on faster A-roads and motorways, where the Q5 feels supple but controlled – this should please anyone who suffers from motion sickness.
If you're prepared to pay extra, there's an adaptive air suspension system that allows you to stiffen or soften the suspension at the touch of a button. As well as being able to adjust the softness of the ride, this set-up allows you to vary the ride height; for instance, you can raise the car to give extra ground clearance or lower it to make lifting items in and out of the boot easier. It is a pricey option but, with it, the Q5 patters calmly over crags in the road and gently floats over undulations, making it, quite simply, the best-riding car in the class. However, whichever version you opt for, try to stick to the smallest wheels possible if you want to maximise ride comfort.
The SQ5 rides on adaptive dampers as standard but you can pay extra for air suspension. This is different from the air suspension on the regular Q5 but still delivers a remarkably composed ride – even if you can't resist the optional 21in alloys.
Of all the suspension options for regular Q5s (excluding the SQ5), the firmer S Sport suspension (a no-cost option on S line trim) keeps the Q5's body admirably upright through twists and turns. There's lots of grip, too, so it's easy to thread the car along country roads and all versions have four-wheel drive that delivers plenty of traction when accelerating out of tight corners – even in slippery conditions. The standard comfort dynamic set-up is slightly softer and allows a little more lean, but even so it's better-balanced than a BMW X3 and much better-controlled than the Volvo XC60 or DS 7 Crossback.
Yet, compared with rivals such as the Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan, the Q5 isn’t especially rewarding to drive quickly. This is mainly due to the steering, which doesn't give you quite the same sense of connection to the front wheels. It's precise enough to allow you to place the car accurately through bends, though.
Cars equipped with optional adaptive air suspension are more wallowy through corners in Comfort setting, but at the touch of a button you can firm things up to improve agility. Meanwhile, the SQ5 is remarkably capable for a big, heavy SUV, with grip and agility that shame even a Macan. It still isn't as much fun to drive as that car, though – nor a Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, for that matter.
This is a wonderfully relaxing car on long journeys. Wind noise is well stifled at speed, partly helped by the standard acoustic glazing on the windscreen and, on S line models and the range-topping SQ5, the front side windows, too. Road noise is more noticeable in cars fitted with regular springs and dampers than the air-sprung models, but even in the former it’s far from terrible.
All the engines are smooth and hushed, including the four-cylinder petrol (2.0 TFSI), while the diesel units are the quietest in the class. For the ultimate smoothness, go for the velvety 3.0-litre V6 – it’s one of the quietest diesels in any car.
Whichever engine you choose, the automatic gearboxes slip smoothly through their gears, but the seven-speed dual-clutch (S tonic) 'box fitted to the 2.0-litre models can be jerky at parking speeds and in traffic. This isn’t a problem with the eight-speed auto gearbox fitted to the 3.0 TDI 286; it is uber-slick all of the time, complementing the positive, progressive brakes that make smooth driving a doddle.
Every version of the Q5 gets a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel. Sport and S line trims add sports seats that, as well as having bigger side bolsters to keep you gripped in place through corners, come with four-way electric lumbar adjustment, a lever to angle the seatbase up for extra under-thigh support and extendable seatbases. These things make it even easier to fine-tune your driving position. If that’s still not enough, eight-way electrically adjustable seats are on the options list (and standard on the sporty SQ5).
It’s not just comfort the Q5 does well; it's easy to use, too. The clarity of the instrument dials (which are digital if you add the optional Virtual Cockpit) and the clearly labelled, logically positioned dashboard buttons all make the Q5 remarkably stress-free to operate when you’re on the move.
It’s easy to see out of the Q5. For starters, the windscreen pillars are chamfered, so they don’t obscure your vision too much through bends, and large door mirrors give a great view of what’s coming up alongside you. You can also add blindspot monitoring to warn when cars are lurking at your flanks that you might otherwise have missed.
Bright xenon headlights are standard on the cheaper trims, while S line versions and the SQ5 come with even sharper LED headlights. You can add optional adaptive LED headlights on all trims – these are well worth thinking about for the extra illumination they deliver.
As with many modern cars, the rear pillars are pretty chunky. But because Audi’s Parking System Plus comes as standard – that’s front and rear parking sensors in non-Audi speak – this doesn’t present too much of an issue. You can also option a rear-facing or 360deg, bird's-eye-view camera to further alleviate any parking woes.
Audi’s MMI infotainment system, with its rotary controller and simple shortcut buttons, is so much easier (and arguably safer) to use on the move than rival touchscreen systems, such as those fitted to the Volvo XC60 and Jaguar F-Pace. Only the BMW X3’s iDrive system is similarly intuitive.
The high-up standard 7.0in screen has crisp, high-resolution graphics, making it easy to see when you’re navigating the menus. You don’t get sat-nav on all trims like you do in the X3; you have move up to mid-spec Sport trim for that. You do, however, get smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones, allowing you to use selected phone apps, including navigation mapping, through the screen.
A Technology Pack adds MMI Navigation Plus, which brings Google Maps with Streetview, onboard wi-fi and a larger 8.3in screen. You also get wireless phone-charging and a 4G internet connection with this package, although it's not available on entry-level SE trim.
The Technology Pack pack also comes with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. This replaces the standard instruments with a 12.3in display that you can configure in multiple ways to put lots of information, including navigation maps and phone contact lists, right in front of you. It's a worthwhile addition.
Audi is making a habit of showing other manufacturers how to make cars look and feel fantastic inside, and the Q5 is no exception. Press something that’s meant to move, such as a switch, and without exception it will click precisely. Press something that’s not meant to move and it won’t, because the fixtures and fittings are very robust. But they are not unforgiving, thanks to plenty of dense, soft-faced materials in the obvious places, with harder plastics generally kept out of sight.
All models come with part-leather seats as standard and you can option ambient lighting that bathes the interior at night in your choice of 30 colours. It’s not just inside that the Q5 feels solid, either. Close a door and you’ll hear a satisfyingly thunk, while all the panel gaps appear to be millimetre-perfect. Only the X3 gets anywhere near to matching its ultra-high standards.
Well, you won’t be short of space in the front. The seats move far enough back to afford anyone tall plenty of leg room and the high roofline offers an equally generous amount of head room.
Storage space is copious. Each front door has a sizeable bin that’s shaped to fit a large bottle; for your takeaway coffee, there are a couple of cupholders between the driver and passenger. You’ll also find a small cubby for loose keys in front of the gearlever and a bigger storage cubby underneath the front armrest. Oh, and there’s a good-sized glovebox, too.
The two outer rear seats offer loads of head room and a decent amount of knee room for those long of leg – although not quite as much as in a Volco XC60 or Land Rover Discovery Sport. There’s enough width for three adults to sit side by side in decent comfort – although, again, the middle passenger won’t be quite as comfortable as they would be in the rear of the XC60 or Discovery Sport.
That's partly due to the high central floor tunnel that eats into foot space, while the protruding rear roof light pinches a bit of the middle occupant’s head room. And if you want seven seats, then you’re out of luck. Of the Q5’s premium large SUV rivals, only the Discovery Sport offers that convenience; there are, of course, non-premium seven-seat options as well, such as the excellent Peugeot 5008.
Storage options in the back include a couple of decent-sized door bins with space for a litre-sized bottle and, if you spec the relatively cheap Storage Pack, you'll get nets on the backs of the front seats and two cupholders in the central rear armrest.
The Q5 offers plenty of seating variations. The front passenger gets an array of adjustments, including seat height and, on Sport models and above, a ratchet lever to angle the seatbase for more under-thigh support, plus electric four-way lumbar adjustment. Full electric seats are an option on all trims.
In the rear, you get folding seats arranged in a 60/40 split. These are easy to drop, thanks to a couple of handy levers placed next to the tailgate opening.
Sliding and reclining rear seats (called Rear Bench Seat Plus on the options list) are something we’d recommend – for three reasons. The recline feature is a bonus if your rear passengers fancy a snooze; they afford you the option to slide the rear seats forward, increasing the boot’s capacity; and they add more flexible 40/20/40-split rear seats. While it’s a shame that this doesn’t come as standard on most versions (only on the SQ5), it's not an expensive option and it's one that you can’t add at all to rivals such as the XC60 or Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Audi fits a powered tailgate to all Q5s, so all you need to do is press a button to open it. In fact, if you upgrade to the optional hands-free opener, you don’t even have to do that – just waggle your foot under the rear bumper and it opens.
At 550 litres, the boot volume matches that of rivals such as the GLC and BMW X3. And with no intrusions from the wheel arches, it’s a useful, square shape that’s easily large enough to swallow a fold-up pram or up to nine carry-on suitcases. That’s one more than an XC60; we know because we’ve tried it.
If you add the optional (standard on the SQ5) Rear Bench Seat Plus pack, you get sliding and reclining rear seats that, when slid all the way forward, increase boot space to 610 litres. That's among the biggest in the class.
There are a couple of negatives to rain on the Q5's parade: a small load lip between the tailgate opening and boot floor that you’ll have to lift heavy items over, and when you fold the rear seats down they leave a slight step in the extended load bay – a problem if you’re sliding in awkwardly long objects.
Being a premium-badged SUV, the Q5 isn’t exactly cheap to buy, but it’s priced competitively against its nearest rivals. And it should be worth more than its peers when you decide to sell on in the future, with better predicted resale values than even the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Slow depreciation helps with finance rates, too, making the Q5 surprisingly affordable next to many rivals if you're buying on a PCP finance.
If you're a company car user, the 2.0 TDI 190’s relatively low CO2 emissions keep company car tax bills competitive, although the Mercedes-Benz GLC is even more efficient. The 3.0 TDI 286 obviously isn't as cheap to run, although it isn't terribly costly compared with rivals with similar performance.
We’ve run our real-world fuel tests on the popular 2.0 TDI 190. While it typically failed to match the manufacturer's claims, it did record a respectable combined 41.0mpg, which compares well with the 36.5mpg achieved by a Volvo XC60 2.0 D4.
Meanwhile, the range-topping SQ5 averaged a frankly awful 25.3mpg, making it one of the least efficient cars we've ever tested. However, that's hardly a surprise given that it weighs two tonnes and has a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.
Standard equipment is pretty generous across the range. Starting with entry-level SE trim, you get 18in alloy wheels, an electrically powered tailgate, three-zone climate control, part-leather and part-leatherette seats, xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats.
For a small premium, you can move up to our recommended Sport trim. This adds some sporty styling upgrades but, more importantly, sat-nav. You also get more supportive sports seats that include four-way electric lumbar adjustment and it opens up your option choices, too. We'd suggest looking at the Technology Pack, for instance – this adds features including an improved infotainment system and Virtual Cockpit digital dials.
Finally, there’s S line trim. This takes the sporty look up a notch, with larger 19in alloy wheels, more aggressive bumper styling and privacy glass. You also get powerful LED headlights and part-leather and part-Alcantara sports seats. Yet, for us, the price jump over Sport is too much for the extras you get.
The range-topping SQ5 is a bespoke model rather than a trim, but it adds bigger alloys, electrically adjustable front seats and an upgraded infotainment system.
The latest Q5 was too new to feature in our most recent reliability survey, but Audi as a brand fared reasonably well, finishing in 12th place (out of 32 manufacturers). That's a better showing than Mercedes-Benz and BMW, although Lexus owners reported even fewer faults.
Warranty cover for the Q5 is for three years or 60,000 miles; extended warranties of up to five years or 90,000 miles are available.
Euro NCAP awarded the Q5 a full five-star rating in its crash testing. However, if you look at individual scores for each category, the GLC achieved slightly higher marks for protecting adults and children, and a considerably better mark for keeping pedestrains safe.
Every Q5 gets six airbags as standard (you can add two more rear side airbags for a small charge), as well as automatic emergency braking (AEB). At speeds of up to 52mph, AEB warns you if you’re about to hit a pedestrian or the car in front, jamming on the brakes if you don’t respond in time.
An optional Tour Pack includes turn assist (which stops the Q5 if you fail to spot a car when pulling out of a T-junction), traffic sign recognition to keep you up to date with the speed limit and adaptive cruise control. The latter is coupled to the traffic jam assist, which will stop, start and steer for you at up to 40mph in traffic.
Additional safety features come with the optional Parking Assistance Pack. These include a pre-sense system that tightens the seatbelts and shuts the windows if the car thinks you are about to have an accident, blindspot monitoring and cross-traffic assist. The latter looks out for hazards at the rear when reversing, stopping the car if it thinks you haven't seen something.
All Q5s come with a full Thatcham-approved remote-operated alarm and immobiliser as standard.
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