Driving

Audi Q5 review

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Audi Q5
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In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Audi Q5 4x4 performance

We really love the 3.0 TDI 286. This V6 diesel engine has 282bhp, so it positively romps off down the road the moment you put your foot down. It’s effortlessly quick in more relaxed, everyday driving, too. That’s down to the enormous shove it generates from low revs, coupled with the responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox that has a knack of finding the right gear for every situation.

However, with our sensible hat on, the 187bhp 2.0 TDI diesel is the engine to go for. It’s not outright quick, but it will match or better rivals with equivalent 2.0 engines (such as the BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport) for straight-line pace. There’s enough oomph on hand to breeze you up to motorway speeds with little drama, although the seven-speed automatic gearbox that comes with this engine can be a bit slow-witted when pulling away from junctions.

The 2.0 TFSI 252 petrol wouldn’t be our first choice, but it’s worth pondering if you don't want a diesel. This four-cylinder engine revs keenly and feels genuinely lively on the move. Being turbocharged, it’s flexible, too, happily pulling strongly from low revs, much like a diesel.

If you want seriously rapid performance, though, only the SQ5 will do. You can read about it in detail by clicking on the name.

Audi Q5 4x4 ride

There are no fewer than four suspension options on the Q5. All trims (apart from the SQ5) have comfort dynamic suspension as standard – this consists of steel springs and passive dampers. The S Sport suspension that's a no-cost option on S line trim is fundamentally the same, but a little stiffer.

We found both set-ups deliver a slightly firmer ride than we'd like along battered urban streets, although S Sport suspension exacerbates this slightly. Still, things smooth out nicely on faster A-roads and motorways, where the Q5 feels supple but controlled – this should please anyone who suffers from motion sickness.

If you're prepared to pay extra, there's an adaptive air suspension system that allows you to stiffen or soften the suspension at the touch of a button. As well as being able to adjust the softness of the ride, this set-up allows you to vary the ride height; for instance, you can raise the car to give extra ground clearance or lower it to make lifting items in and out of the boot easier. It is a pricey option but, with it, the Q5 patters calmly over crags in the road and gently floats over undulations, making it, quite simply, the best-riding car in the class. However, whichever version you opt for, try to stick to the smallest wheels possible if you want to maximise ride comfort.

The SQ5 rides on adaptive dampers as standard but you can pay extra for air suspension. This is different from the air suspension on the regular Q5 but still delivers a remarkably composed ride – even if you can't resist the optional 21in alloys.

Audi Q5

Audi Q5 4x4 handling

Of all the suspension options for regular Q5s (excluding the SQ5), the firmer S Sport suspension (a no-cost option on S line trim) keeps the Q5's body admirably upright through twists and turns. There's lots of grip, too, so it's easy to thread the car along country roads and all versions have four-wheel drive that delivers plenty of traction when accelerating out of tight corners – even in slippery conditions. The standard comfort dynamic set-up is slightly softer and allows a little more lean, but even so it's better-balanced than a BMW X3 and much better-controlled than the Volvo XC60 or DS 7 Crossback.

Yet, compared with rivals such as the Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan, the Q5 isn’t especially rewarding to drive quickly. This is mainly due to the steering, which doesn't give you quite the same sense of connection to the front wheels. It's precise enough to allow you to place the car accurately through bends, though.

Cars equipped with optional adaptive air suspension are more wallowy through corners in Comfort setting, but at the touch of a button you can firm things up to improve agility. Meanwhile, the SQ5 is remarkably capable for a big, heavy SUV, with grip and agility that shame even a Macan. It still isn't as much fun to drive as that car, though – nor a Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, for that matter.

Audi Q5 4x4 refinement

This is a wonderfully relaxing car on long journeys. Wind noise is well stifled at speed, partly helped by the standard acoustic glazing on the windscreen and, on S line models and the range-topping SQ5, the front side windows, too. Road noise is more noticeable in cars fitted with regular springs and dampers than the air-sprung models, but even in the former it’s far from terrible.

All the engines are smooth and hushed, including the four-cylinder petrol (2.0 TFSI), while the diesel units are the quietest in the class. For the ultimate smoothness, go for the velvety 3.0-litre V6 – it’s one of the quietest diesels in any car.

Whichever engine you choose, the automatic gearboxes slip smoothly through their gears, but the seven-speed dual-clutch (S tonic) 'box fitted to the 2.0-litre models can be jerky at parking speeds and in traffic. This isn’t a problem with the eight-speed auto gearbox fitted to the 3.0 TDI 286; it is uber-slick all of the time, complementing the positive, progressive brakes that make smooth driving a doddle.

 

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There are 5 trims available for the Q5 4x4. Click to see details.See all versions
OUR PICK
Sport
For a small premium over SE, you can move up to our favourite Sport trim. This adds some sporty styling upgrades but, more importantly, sat-nav. You also get more comfortable sports seats that incl...View trim
Fuel Diesel, Petrol
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£36,667
Average Saving £3,508
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S Line
This is the range-topping trim. It takes the sporty look up a notch with larger 19in alloy wheels, more aggressive bumper styling and privacy glass. You also get powerful LED headlights and part-le...View trim
Fuel Petrol, Diesel
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£38,442
Average Saving £3,683
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Black Edition
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
Fuel Diesel, Petrol
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£40,467
Average Saving £3,884
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SQ5
The SQ5 is a bespoke model rather than a trim level, but adds bigger alloys, electrically adjustable front seats and an upgraded infotainment system to everything you get with S line. Only availabl...View trim
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£47,415
Average Saving £4,540
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Vorsprung
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
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£51,842
Average Saving £5,009
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