The Audi Q5 is an upmarket midsize off-roader which competes with premium rivals from BMW, Range Rover and Volvo. Despite all models including Audi’s ‘quattro’ four-wheel drive, this posh mudpluger is likely to spend all of its time on Tarmac, rather than being taken off-road as with some more hardy 4x4s.
This off-roader has been on sale since 2008 and offers a solid high-quality interior, which shares its premium feel with Audi’s other models. The car is available with a range of petrol and diesel motors including a rapid SQ5 performance diesel model.
The Q5 slots between BMW’s driving-focused X3 and Volvo’s comfort-oriented XC60. It also lines up alongside the Range Rover Evoque, though it does without that car’s off-road ability.
The Q5 is an off-roader which shares much DNA with Audi’s A4 and A5 saloons. As a premium machine prices start at over £31,000 for the most basic diesel version and spiral up to around £45,000 for the SQ5. Specification levels range from entry level SE to sporty S line and range-topping S line Plus and the rapid SQ5.
We’ve driven the 175bhp 2.0 TDI model in sporty S line trim and kitted out with Audi’s slick ‘S tronic’ automatic gearbox. At just over £35,000 this model sits towards the lower end of the Q5 range, but should be one of the more popular options, thanks to its punchy but relatively economical diesel motor
The 2.0 TDI 177 S line model is a popular choice thanks to its on-paper economy and performance credentials, and it proves a good compromise on the road – especially when fitted with the slick S tronic automatic gearbox, which makes town driving a cinch.
The diesel motor is refined enough and offers plenty of punch around town, with the automatic ‘box effortlessly shifting between gears. Get up to motorway speeds, however, and the engine provides more noise than acceleration, though it should be more than adequate for most drivers. More of an issue, though, is the fact that the car seems to meander around the road at speed, perhaps down to the large tyres fitted being thrown off course by bumps and cambers on the road.
Overall, however, the car steers with precision and offers good confidence around bends, with the steering getting heavier as your speed gets higher, but still being easy to use around town. Refinement levels are good on the motorway while the ride is mostly smooth, making it relaxing enough for long-distance journeys.
Audi is known for making slick and solid interiors and the Q5’s cabin feels particularly good quality. The materials used feel upmarket while all of the controls feel weighty and built to last, living up to the car’s big price tag.
Some of the controls are tricky to use on the move, though. The sat nav media system fitted to our test car features a mass of buttons scattered in front of the gear stick. These are all similarly-sized and hard to differentiate on the move, meaning that even adjusting simple settings through the media system can be much more distracting than it should be. There are several buttons on the steering wheel which make adjusting more basic settings like speaker volume a lot easier.
The Q5 offers a good level of practicality, though the cabin doesn’t feel quite as spacious as you might expect, thanks to its snug feel. Front passengers should have plenty of space, though, while three adults should be able to fit comfortably enough in the rear seats, though those sat in the middle seat may find it a bit tight for foot room. The boot is also usefully large.
Visibility isn’t too bad for a large off-roader, with oversized wing mirrors making it easy to keep track of the road behind. These large mirrors do make pulling out of junctions tricky though, as they create a blind spot of their own and judging exactly where the bonnet ends can be a challenge. We found the front and rear parking sensors fitted to our car very useful.
The Q5 isn’t the newest off-roader on the market, though it still makes a relatively strong claim for potential buyers’ cash with its appealing interior and reasonable driving experience. The 2.0 TDI 177 engine offers one of the best blends of value and economy in the Q5 range, though it struggles on paper against newer rivals.
Buyers who aren’t tied to the Audi brand will want to take a look at the similarly-priced BMW X3 20d xDrive and Volvo XC60 D4. The BMW offers better economy and acceleration figures, while the XC60 outperforms the Audi for economy. In isolation, however, the Audi should make many car buyers happy. If you don’t need four-wheel drive though you’ll be better served with one the Q5’s two-wheel drive rivals, which will save you money to buy, and at the pumps.
Don’t want to buy new? You can browse for a used Audi Q5 in our classifieds here.
List price: £35,735
Engine: 2.0-litre, turbocharged four cylinder diesel
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.0 seconds
Fuel economy: 41.5mpg (urban), 50.4mpg (extra-urban) 47.1mpg (combined)
Emissions: 159g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Five stars
December 22, 2014