WITH the arrival of the five-star Jaguar F-Pace and the all-new Alfa Romeo Stelvio stealing all the limelight, we’d understand if the well established Audi Q5 had slipped under your radar of late. But it shouldn’t have – believe it or not, it’s all-new for 2017. It’s out to regain its footing in the premium SUV class and pinch backsales from its new rivals, and so far, we’ve only tried the most powerful versions. Both the turbo petrol and V6 diesel have impressed with their blend of performance, refinement and comfort, but now it’s time for us to try the crucial mode I for British buyers – the more affordable 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
In case you’re not too familiar with the second-generation Q5, if s based on Audi’s MLB evo platform, which it shares with the A 4 and bigger seven -seat Q7 S UV. Not only is it slightly longer, wider and taller than the outgoing car, a mix of lightweight materials has cut the kerb weight of the 2.0TDI by 90kg- around as much as a large passenger.
This instantly bodes well for running costs, but Audi has maximised things by fitting an updated 2.0-litre diesel hooted up to its efficient seven-speed dual-clutch auto box and the quattro Ultra all-wheel drive. Two-wheel drive will not be offered, but thanks to the new hardware the Q5 is able to decouple the rear wheels to cut drag and friction. As a result, the new model is up to 16 percent more fuel efficient and 15 per cent less polluting than the car it replaces.
With emissions of around 133g/km and average fuel consumption of 56.5mpg (on smaller 18-inch wheels) business users and private owners alike will reap the rewards -especially when you add the strong resale values. In short, the new Q5 promises some of the lowest costs of any premium SUV. An impressive start then for the entry-level diesel, and it only gets better from behind the wheel. Neither the Mercedes GLC nor Jaguar F-Pace, or any other rival for that matter, is as quick, quiet or as smooth as the 187bhp TDI Q5. The Audi does 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds – a sprightly eight tenths quicker than the more overtly sporty F-Pace 2.0d. It can’t quite match the extra engagement the Jaguar promises, however.
The OS’s precise steering feels too light – but many people would happily trade a little excitement for the added comfort it delivers. Especially when this latest model features the brand’s new optional adaptive air suspension. It’s a pricey £2,000 extra, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it because it does a good job of filtering even the worst battle-scarred road imperfections. The same suspension can also be raised by 45mm when heading off road, and be lowered again by up to 55mm to help when loading heavy objects. The Audi’s fine practicality extends to the generous space in the front and rear, in fact, the cabin comprehensively trounces its rivals. For fit and finish the Q5 eclipses any similar SUV you could care to mention and with the company’s Virtual Cockpit in place (a £250 option) it beats them hands down for design, too.
Equipment is decent on all models, but there are some obvious omissions which will remain costly options. We think it’s very disappointing that the SE, Sport and even S line models all miss out on the extra protection of rear side airbags (£350). It’s also unfortunate that Audi asks £750 more-even on the most expensive 2.0 TDI – for adaptive cruise control. This is standard on the equivalent Volkswagen Tiguan, which costs thousands less. That’s a pity, because it detracts from the Q5’s achievements. It’s an excellent all-rounder and deserves not to be overlooked even in the fee e of flashier new competition.