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. It's just a shame that UK buyers will have to wait a few months before the order books open for this engine.
Besides, 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 (like 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.
Audi Q5 ride comfort
There are no fewer than four suspension options on the Audi Q5. All trims have Comfort Dynamic suspension as standard, which consists of steel springs and passive dampers, but unfortunately we've yet to try this set-up.
However, we have tried sports suspension, which is a no-cost option on S line trim. This delivers a slightly firmer ride than we'd like along battered urban streets, but things smooth out nicely on faster A-roads and motorways. Mind you, the standard Comfort suspension is likely to be an even better bet.
If you're prepared to pay extra, there's an adaptive suspension system that allows you to stiffen and soften the suspension at the touch of a button. We haven't tried this yet, but we have sampled the range-topping adaptive air suspension. As well as being able to adjust the softness of the ride, this also allows you to vary the ride height; for instance, you can raise the car up to give extra off-road ground clearance, or lower the car to make lifting items in and out of the boot easier. It is a pricey option, but with it the car patters calmly over crags in the road and gently floats over undulations, making the Q5 one of the best riding cars in the class.
Audi Q5 handling
We haven't yet tried all the suspension options, but sports 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.
Yet compared to rivals such as the Jaguar F-Pace, the Q5 isn’t particularly rewarding for keen drivers – and that's mainly because of its numb steering. Mind you, the steering is at least precise, which means you can place the car accurately in bends. And all versions have Quattro four-wheel drive, so there’s loads of traction when accelerating hard, even in slippery conditions.
Cars equipped with optional adaptive air suspension are more wallowy through corners. However, switch to Dynamic mode and body roll is still relatively well contained.
Audi Q5 refinement
This is a wonderfully relaxing car on long journeys. Both road and wind noise are really well supressed at speed, partly down to the standard acoustic glazing on the windscreen, which helps reduce noise from outside. For even greater serenity, you can pay extra to have this on the side windows as well.
All of the engines are pretty refined, so even the four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines are far quieter than those found in rivals. But for the ultimate example of smoothness, go for the velvety 3.0-litre V6 – it’s one of the quietest diesels on the market.
Whichever engine you choose, the automatic gearboxes slip smoothly through their gears. However, the seven-speed ‘box fitted to the 2.0-litre models is a bit jerky at parking speeds. This isn’t a problem on the eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox fitted to the 3.0 TDI 286, which is uber-smooth, all of the time. Elsewhere, the progressive brakes and steering make the Q5 slick to drive in stop-start traffic.
For a relatively small engine in a biggish car, this 2.0-litre is pretty pokey. That’s down to a turbocharger that boosts power to a healthy 249bhp, and a useable spread of shove throughout the rev-range. Like the 2.0 TDI 190, this engine has a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which changes smoothly through the gears but can be a little jerky at parking speeds.
Our pick 2.0 TDI 190
While not super-quick in terms of outright pace, this 187bhp diesel is plenty flexible enough to deliver strong real-world pace. That means there’s no need to rev it hard to keep up with traffic. It’s also pretty smooth compared with equivalent 2.0-litre diesel engine in most rivals.
3.0 TDI 286
This is a tremendous engine. With 282bhp it simply romps off down the road the minute you put your foot down. But there’s more to it than just straight-line pace, because it’s effortlessly quick in normal, everyday driving. That’s down to the enormous shove it generates from low revs, coupled with the responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox. The only downside is that it will cost you more to buy and run than the smaller 2.0 TDI 190.