Car reviews - Audi - Q5 - range
Smooth and fuel-efficient diesel, excellent NVH, good cabin dimensions, comfortable ride, solid spec
Room for improvement
No MMI controller hampers usability, spongy dual-clutch, slightly tippy handling
Audi keeps comfortable and capable Q5 medium SUV fresh with mid-life update
12 Feb 2021
LONG considered one of the most popular members of the lucrative premium mid-sized SUV segment, Audi’s Q5 family hauler has been treated to a mid-life facelift with changes to styling and spec levels.
With a new-look face and a revised range of four- and six-cylinder variants including two Launch Edition grades, the updated Q5 is ready to take on the heavyweights of the segment including the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.
We sampled both four-cylinder offerings to find which new Q5 is the pick of the bunch.
From the outside, the Q5’s design has remained mostly the same, but with the one noticeable difference of a new LED headlight cluster that removes the dual L-shaped signature of the outgoing model with a simplified design that more closely connects the Q5 to its A4/A5 passenger car siblings.
Aside from the minor headlight change, the new Q5 will look largely the same to punters, which is a good thing given it was already a stylish vehicle.
Moving into the cabin shows a clear luxury bent with good levels of specification – we drove both the mid-level Sport (45 TFSI) and higher-spec Launch Edition (40 TDI) trims – as befitting a premium SUV.
The Q5’s cabin is immediately identifiable as an Audi with the brand’s hallmarks of a clean, uncluttered design and a modern look, from the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to the classy layout of the air-conditioning cluster.
Multimedia duties are taken care of by the 10.1-inch Audi MMI system, which utilises a tablet-style touchscreen and eschews the dial/button MMI controller currently being phased out of new Audis.
The system proves itself to be a simple and user-friendly one to operate, however we do miss the old MMI controller which provided easy-to-reach button shortcuts and less fiddly operation that allowed the user to avoid reaching over to the touchscreen.
Steering wheel-mounted controls mitigate some of the problems, however the new system has become a little less user-friendly in the name of reduced cabin clutter.
One positive aspect of the de-cluttered cabin is the wireless phone charging tray which can be tucked out of sight under the centre console storage area, and the wireless Apple CarPlay which almost avoids the need for charging cables altogether (Android Auto is wired only).
Most touchpoints on the new Q5 are upholstered in leather with soft-touch plastics used elsewhere, as well as piano-black trim elements on the Launch Edition.
Plentiful light is let in by the standard panoramic sunroof, creating an open and welcoming environment for both front and rear passengers.
Rear headroom is comfortable but legroom is a little tight for tall passengers, while the 550-litre boot provides enough space for a weekend away with the family.
Along with the top-spec V6 diesel 50 TDI grade, two 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine choices are available in the updated Q5 range – the 45 TFSI petrol and the 40 TDI diesel.
The former develops 183kW from 5000-6500rpm and 370Nm from 1600-4300rpm, driving all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Meanwhile, the 40 TDI develops 150kW (+10kW) from 3800-4200rpm and 400Nm from 2750-3250rpm, with the same quattro all-wheel drive and seven-speed dual-clutch.
Of the two engines, the 45 TFSI is more suited to exciting and engaging driving, preferring to rev harder than the diesel and providing brisker acceleration as evidenced by its 1.3-second advantage from zero to 100km/h (6.3s vs 7.6s).
With a healthy amount of power and torque on tap, the 45 TFSI does have a slightly sporty bent – able to maintain pace in the twisty stuff and provide good amounts of shove especially when the revs are spiked.
On the flipside, it is also the noisier engine option and feels like it has to work harder than the diesel.
Meanwhile the 150kW/400Nm 40 TDI, while not as engaging to drive, feels like the more appropriate and well-suited engine for the Q5, thanks to its superior fuel economy and more linear power delivery.
While nowhere near as quick as the petrol, the diesel has a much smoother throttle response with linear acceleration thanks to its wide torque band and a far more relaxed feel, never giving the impression that the oil-burner was working too hard.
Along with the more linear power delivery and smoother throttle response, the diesel also easily trumps the petrol on fuel consumption, with a miserly 6.3 litres per 100km return for the oil-burner compared to 8.5L/100km with the petrol.
Both engines are paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which is generally fine, but it (especially in the petrol) can create a spongy pedal feel and lead to delayed throttle input and acceleration.
As a premium SUV, the Q5 is expected to have a more comfortable ride quality than its budget counterparts, and we are pleased to report the ride quality is supple and gentle, even when riding on the standard-issue 20-inch rims.
The Q5 makes for a fine open-road tourer, with the comfortable ride quality matching well with its excellent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels to provide a welcome cabin environment.
We were particularly impressed by the noise suppression of the Q5, with little tyre, wind or other outside noise entering the cabin – a hallmark of a luxury vehicle.
Handling-wise, the Q5 can hold its own in dynamic situations, doing its best to hold its line when being pushed hard through corners.
Don’t mistake it for a sportscar, however – its taller ride height makes it tippy in the corners, and pushing it hard enough will eventually result in understeer, despite its quattro all-wheel drive.
Steering is light and easy, making for a carefree driving proposition around town.
The changes made to the updated Q5 are overall quite minor – more of a nip/tuck than anything else – however it is already an accomplished and well-regarded model that should have no problems mixing it with the best of the segment.
If you prefer a sportier drive experience, the petrol is the way to go, however if you are keen on saving money at the fuel bowser and would rather a smoother, more relaxed engine, the 40 TDI diesel is the pick.
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Model release date: 1 February 2021
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