Petrol choices include 2.0-litre units with 178bhp or 222bhp, and a 268bhp supercharged 3.0-litre. The latter two are both impressively quick. The diesels make more sense for most buyers, and the 141bhp 2.0-litre should be fast and flexible enough for most. The 175bhp version is perkier still. The 242bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel is a little irrelevant when the smaller diesels are so good. The range-topping SQ5 also a diesel engine, but it’s twin-turbocharged and gives 309bhp. It’s very fast indeed.
If you want an SUV that handles like a hatchback, the Q5 is great. There’s immense grip and solid body control, so you’ll have more fun driving it than you will most other cars in the class. The steering is satisfyingly responsive, too. The downside of suspension that controls body movement so well is a firm ride, especially if you go optional S line suspension or the larger alloy wheel options. That’s not good in something that will be used as a family car.
Whichever version you choose, the Q5 provides a reasonably quiet way to travel. Yes, you hear a smattering of wind- and road noise, but there’s not enough of either to really upset you. The diesels are among the quietest around, but the 222bhp petrol becomes rather boomy when worked hard.
It’s fashionable and it’s an Audi – that's why you should be prepared to part with so much money for your Q5. Don't be too worried by the high price, though – the Audi badge also means desirability, and that contributes towards some of the strongest resale values around. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are reasonable for the class, so running costs won’t be crippling.
There are a few areas of the Audi Q5’s cabin where the company seems to have focused on making things long-lasting rather than pleasant to the touch. However, most of the areas you come into contact with frequently are a delight, and the build quality is impressively solid. On the other hand, Audi’s reputation for reliability has taken a few knocks recently, and the Q5 was only awarded an average reliability rating by owners in the 2012 JD Power survey.
The Q5 provides all the obvious safety defences, including hill-descent control to help it crawl down off-road slopes. It also throws in a few novelties, such as the clever stability control, which has a special off-road programme. It can even detect if you have a loaded roof rack and respond sooner to prevent any risk of the car toppling over.
The high driving position means you get a good view out, and there’s lots of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel. Sadly, models with a manual gearbox have offset pedals that make things uncomfortable. The infotainment interface is simple to use once you get the hang of it, but get the hang of it you must; the four corner buttons perform a different function depending on which menu you’re in. The air-con controls are a little fussy, too.
Audi admits ‘sporty’ looks were a priority with the Q5, but this doesn’t impinge on practicality. There’s generous space for four adults and room for shedloads of luggage. The luggage space is virtually trebled when you fold the back seats down. The rear seats also recline, and there’s the option of runners that give them 100mm of fore and aft travel. A folding front passenger seat is also an option.
We feel a bit guilty calling SE the ‘basic’ trim, because it’s anything but. Bluetooth, leather seats, three-zone climate control, 18-inch alloys, automatic lights and wipers, parking sensors and four powered windows are all standard. S line versions come festooned with sporty aesthetic touches inside and out, including xenon headlights, while S line plus adds sat-nav, metallic paint and privacy glass.
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