First drive: Audi Q5 - Conclusion

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Most 4x4s these days are a far cry from the swaying hulks of old, but even with that in mind, the Q5 is impressive.

It's quiet, save for some wind noise around its elephant-ear door mirrors, and it remains composed and flat through changes in direction and the road surface, so even though it rides quite high from the ground, it feels more like an estate car than a 4x4.

There's not exactly genuine steering feedback, but the wheel does weight up with cornering loads to keep you aware of what's going on.

All Q5s have 18-inch wheels with generously-proportioned 60-series tyres, so the ride's pretty good, too, although it can get a bit knobbly where there are sharp surface variations.

This is just the car a lot of people have been waiting for from Audi - a 4x4 that avoids the excesses of the company's seven-seat Q7, and that you therefore feel less embarrassed about being seen driving.

It's going to fly out of the showrooms, whatever fuel prices and the critics of 4x4s have to say.

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