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First local drive: Audi resets with Q5

High five: Audi expects a sales boost from the latest Q5 when it arrives in showrooms in June this year.

Pricing and spec increase but Audi bats away competitors with impressive new Q5

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Audi logo13 Apr 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

AUDI Australia says it expects its all-new Q5 to exceed the sales of the hugely popular first-generation model, but it is not targeting a return to the top spot in the burgeoning mid-size SUV segment.

The second-generation five-seat SUV will roll into Australian showrooms in late June this year as part of a four-variant range, starting with the Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro Design from $65,900 plus on-road costs, representing a $2300 price hike over the outgoing base variant.

Audi’s new range also includes the 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport from $70,700 (+$2700) and the new petrol-powered Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport variant at $73,500, while pricing for the SQ5 performance halo – arriving just weeks after the other variants – is yet to be revealed.

The entry price undercuts the base diesel Mercedes-Benz GLC220d at $65,990 and the $66,900 BMW X3 xDrive20d, but is pricier than the Land Rover Sport TD4 150 SE that starts at $56,355.

The German car-maker says it is holding approximately 1800 pre-orders for the Q5, made up of dealer and customer purchases, with the 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport the most popular variant so far.

Since its Australian launch in early 2009, Audi has sold more than 23,000 Q5s and it was the best-selling premium mid-size SUV from 2009 to 2015 until it lost the crown in 2016 to the Mercedes-Benz GLC, as well as slipping behind the Land Rover Discovery Sport and BMW X3.

Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf said the company was anticipating annual Q5 sales of about 4500 units and that sustainable growth was more important than recapturing the top spot on the sales charts.

“I think what is important for us is that we have got customers that want to buy the car and we are growing sustainably rather than necessarily a drive to be the number one,” she said at a preview drive event in Canberra this week.

“Clearly if we stepped back into that leadership position that would be a great thing and obviously, it would be a nice position to hold, but in terms of our goals it is not a primary driver.”

Ms Burgdorf said Audi would target the “loyal” owners of the outgoing Q5, which she described as “one of the backbone model ranges for the brand,” and said the improvements would ensure the model’s continued success.

“This new model is the same quantum leap ahead like the A4 from the previous generation. The indication for us is that we will exceed our sales volumes for the first generation with this all-new model. We are very much looking forward to arrival in Australia.”

While pricing has gone up for the initial variants, Audi estimates that they each offer about $4000 to $5000 worth of extra equipment over the previous Q5.

The new Q5 is up to 90kg lighter than its predecessor thanks to a number of key weight reductions, including 20kg from the body, and 15kg from the new S-tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Audi’s new Quattro Ultra all-wheel drivetrain also chops another 4kg off and has helped contribute to a 12 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, according to the car-maker.

Both diesel variants use the same Euro 6-rated 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine delivering 140kW and 400Nm between 1750 and 3000rpm.

While these are the same outputs as the outgoing model, combined fuel consumption has dropped from 6.1 litres per 100km to 5.3L/100km, and the zero to 100km/h sprint is 0.5 seconds quicker at 7.9s before hitting its 218km/h top speed. It emits 136g/km of CO2.

The 2.0-litre TFSI turbo-petrol unit outputs 185kW and 370Nm from 1750 to 4500rpm – a 16kW/20Nm bump – for a 7.3L/100km fuel use figure (0.2L less than before) and a CO2 emissions figure of 169g/km.

Audi says it can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.3s on to a top speed of 237km/h.

Both powertrains have fuel saving idle-stop and the new smoother shifting, faster S-tronic transmission.

Audi has included more safety and driver assistance gear as standard this time around and the new Q5 features Audi’s ‘pre-sense city’ with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and pedestrian detection up to 85km/h, an exit warning system to warn occupants of things such as bicycles and other objects, a blind spot warning system and cross traffic assist.

It also gets the ‘pre-sense basic’ system that includes belt tensioning, window closing and other preventative measures if an emergency is detected, ‘pre-sense rear’ that warns oncoming cars of a potential risk of running into the back of the car, and the ‘parking system plus’ with a reversing camera.

The higher-spec Sport variants add adaptive cruise control with the ‘stop & go’ function, ‘turn assist’, ‘high-beam assist’, ‘predictive efficiency assistant’ and Audi ‘pre-sense front’ with a collision warning up to 250km/h.

Other standard kit in base Design guise includes Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather-appointed seats, 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats, keyless entry and start, a 7.0-inch high-resolution screen, Audi connect with a 4G connection and Google Earth and Search function, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters, tri-zone climate control air-conditioning with a digital display in the rear and an eight-speaker audio system with two SD card readers.

Sport variants add 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights and dynamic rear indicators, sport front seats, a 10-speaker premium sound system, the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and MMI Navigation plus with a bigger 8.3-inch high-resolution screen, MMI touch, a DVD player and five free map updates.

Audi offers a number of options packages that range in price depending on the variant. They include the Comfort, Parking Assistance, Technik and S line style packages.

GoAuto was one of a handful of publications offered a preview drive, in and around Canberra, of a pair of the first examples of Q5s to hit Australian shores ahead of the June launch. This followed our first international drive in late November last year in Mexico.

The Q5 appeared to have same-again styling in press images, but in the metal, the Q5 is a handsome car with a more rounded nose and sharper overall look, while being unmistakably Q5.

The cabin is a giant leap forward and mimics the look of other recent Audi products – the mechanically related A4 and Q7.

With Audi’s cockpit-like driver’s seat it is easy to find an ideal driving position and despite the raised ride height of the SUV, occupants feel planted and ensconced in the Q5 behind the wheel.

We have praised Audi’s Virtual Cockpit before and that has not changed, but the overall interior upgrade, including new high-end materials, patterns and panels, is welcome, given the functional but drab cabin of the previous model.

A kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the tailgate – a system found in a number of mainstream models – to reveal a larger (by 10L to 550L) cargo area fitted with nifty boot accessories (a $350 option), including nets, tie-downs and hard plastic barriers to avoid anything sliding around.

The Q5 has been regarded as the driver’s choice in the premium medium SUV segment – although Land Rover’s Discovery Sport gave it a nudge – so the new-generation version has some big boots to fill.

Audi had a pair of Q5 2.0 TDI Quattro Sport variants to drive, both fitted with different options, but the same carryover turbo-diesel all-wheel-drive powertrain.

The efforts to quell noise, vibration and and harshness (NVH) is immediately noticeable as the Q5 glides through suburban traffic.

The fact that there is a diesel engine under the bonnet barely registers inside the Q5, which is quieter than ever.

Audi’s 140kW/400Nm TDI exhibits noticeable turbo lag when the throttle is pressed, but when up and running the oiler offers strong acceleration and a surprising amount of grunt for overtaking at high speeds.

It is not as gutsy as some other larger VW Group diesels, but the average buyer would have little to complain about.

On country roads, the Q5 proves it is still all about the driver, offering up enjoyable dynamics that encourage you to push harder into corners – safely of course – without disappointment.

The way the Q5 handles is genuinely surprising for a mid-size SUV and the lack of bodyroll through corners helps.

Audi’s Quattro Ultra system and the new five-link suspension setup help in this area as well, but the latter also assist in ensuring a smooth ride over slightly rougher surfaces.

One of the Q5s was fitted with the $1654 adaptive dampers which made for an even more planted ride.

The new electromechanical power steering system makes for sharp and engaging steering with the perfect weighting – not too heavy, not too light.

From the Drive Select system, Sport mode adds some zing when required, but ultimately Comfort is perfectly fine around town or for country cruising.

Our time behind the wheel was brief, and a more detailed review will be forthcoming after the mid-year launch, but from our initial impressions, the Q5 is a winner.

The deeply impressive cabin, more generous standard equipment list than the outgoing model, enjoyable dynamics and overall packaging all combine to lift the Q5 above the premium SUV pack.

It has some tough competition, but Audi has done more than enough to ensure its cracking new Q5 will continue to be the driver’s choice.

2017 Audi Q5 pricing*
2.0 TDI Quattro Design (a)$65,900
2.0 TDI Quattro Sport (a)$70,700
2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport (a)$73,500
*Excludes on-road costs

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