Car reviews - Audi - Q5 - 50 TDI
Clean design inside and out, punchy powertrain for a non-performance variant, driving range, quattro grip
Room for improvement
Sat-nav system beginning to look a little tired, optional air suspension arguably not worth it, some clunky gear changes, V6 more engine than required for most situations
Audi’s Q5 50TDI is a potent and accomplished SUV, but more engine than you need
13 Apr 2020
Audi’s all-new second-generation Q5 SUV first arrived Down Under in April 2017, taking the reigns from the first-generation version that proved a hit with local audiences since its arrival in 2009.
One of the most popular variants in the previous range was the top-spec SQ5, powered by a turbo-diesel V6 engine that resonated with customers for its blend of performance and practicality.
When the new-generation version launched, only a petrol-powered SQ5 was offered, sparking customer demand for a high-powered oil burner.
Enter the 50TDI. Can the new-generation diesel fill the sizeable shoes left by the original SQ5?
The Q5 50TDI arrived some time after the launch of the second-generation medium SUV, taking place as the penultimate variant in the range underneath the SQ5 priced from $84,700 plus on-roads.
Competition for the 50TDI comes from the likes of the BMW X3 30d ($82,900) and Mercedes-Benz GLC350d 4Matic ($91,715), placing it squarely in the middle of its rivals for price.
According to Audi, the new version added a number of new features over the model it replaced, including 20-inch alloys, adaptive LED headlights, heated, folding, auto-dimming and memory exterior mirrors, electric tailgate with gesture control, surround-view monitor and park assist.
This is in addition to standard kit such as leather upholstery, heated front seats, hands-free entry and start, three-zone climate control, 10-speaker audio system, driver’s seat memory function, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and an 8.3-inch touchscreen with MMI navigation plus and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Stepping into the Q5 cabin for the first time, occupants are greeted by a clean and well-laid-out interior, typical of Audi which we believe is one of the automotive industry’s best when it comes to interior design.
A clean, aesthetic mix of lines, buttons and dials combine well to give the Q5 a modern feel, helped by features like the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, which continues to be a quality feature for the Volkswagen Group with an ergonomic layout and plentiful customisation.
The A/C cluster is also a highlight, with a small, tasteful digital screen and buttons combining style and simple ease of use.
We are less enamoured with the Q5’s 8.3-inch infotainment screen, which is set in the dashboard in a tablet-style manner that makes it look glued on as opposed to neatly integrated into the dashboard.
The Audi MMI system contained within is still a slick and easy-to-use system, particularly when paired by the buttons and rotary dial in the centre console.
Our only gripe with Audi’s system is the satellite navigation, which is beginning to look a little dated compared to segment leaders like BMW and its Operating System 7.0.
Front and rear passengers should have no problem with head and legroom, while aluminium and leather trims help give the cabin a more premium feel.
However the interior still has its downsides, with large amounts of plastic on the dash, doors and centre console the Q5 50TDI could use more premium materials, as the most expensive non-performance variant in the range.
Styling is also subjective, but we certainly were not fans of the rock grey leather colour on our test car, with black, brown and beige all clearly superior hues.
The main drawcard for the 50TDI variant is its aforementioned engine, a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 punching out 210kW and 620Nm from 1500-3000rpm, down slightly on the 240kW/650Nm on the first-gen SQ5 but still a more-than-adequate number for a medium SUV.
Mated to an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission and driving all four wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, the Q5 50TDI can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in a brisk 5.8 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 237km/h.
While not officially a performance variant, the 50TDI has enough grunt under the hood to give it a genuine sporting bent, evidenced by any genuine push of the accelerator, which invokes a serious wave of torque that gets the car up and moving in no time.
For practicality purposes, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four cylinder 40TDI will be enough engine for just about anyone, but for those who insist on being able to rapidly pull away from traffic lights, the 50TDI is the more appropriate option.
One downside to the 50TDI’s 620Nm is the heft torque can lead to a less-than-smooth driving character at times, with some lurching gear changes coming as a result of transferring pulling power across its eight ratios.
Our favourite six-pot diesel is probably BMW’s 3.0-litre inline unit which doesn’t seem to suffer the same problems, so we have to think Audi’s eight-speed unit is to blame for the clunky around-town gear changes.
During our week with the Q5 we recorded a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.0 litres per 100km, up on the official 6.3L/100km number, no doubt due to us spending most of the time driving around town.
While the Q5 usually rides on steel springs, out test vehicle came equipped with the $3900 air suspension option with variable damping which gives it a smooth and comfortable ride quality, and can also adjust the load height of the boot by dropping the rear sill height down.
Is the fancy suspension worth the extra money? Probably not – the Q5 already has a comfortable ride quality with the steel springs, and only when driving in a dynamic function will the air suspension clearly trump steel, with its ability to keep the car flat in corners.
Handling prowess is commendable for a non-performance model, with the quattro system doing a superb job of sending all 620Nm to the road without so much as a hint of squealing rubber.
As a result, steering is also sharp and direct, giving drivers confidence in all road conditions.
As expected of a premium vehicle, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are also commendable, some slight diesel rattle notwithstanding.
Warranty and servicing
All Audi models come with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which can be extended at an additional cost for an extra 12, 24, 36 or 48 months.
Three and five-year service plans are available for the Q5 50TDI totalling $2040 and $3070 respectively, with intervals set at every 12 months of 15,000km, whichever comes first.
The 50TDI was brought to Australia to answer the demand for the popular SQ5 TDI. Does it live up to its predecessor? Yes and no.
Outright performance is not quite as savage as the SQ5, however the 50TDI does provide the vast majority of the SQ5’s driveability in a more every day, palatable package.
The 210kW/620Nm engine provides a big wallop of torque, however if buyers are in the market simply for a quality family car, the 2.0-litre engine options will likely be more than enough for most.
However if a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing SUV is what you’re after, the Q5 50TDI could be the perfect fit.
BMW X3 30d from $82,900 plus on-roads
The BMW offering just manages to undercut the Q5 for price, and is powered by a fantastic, smooth inline 3.0-litre engine. Power is slightly down on the Q5 though, at 195kW.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350d from $91,715 plus on-roads
The most expensive of the three comparable German offerings, the GLC350d produces 190kW/620Nm from its identically sized oil-burning V6. However the diesel six is not long for this world, with the updated range reverting to petrol power only.
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