The new Q5 drives better and is a bigger vehicle, but its competitors have also grown in size and stature. However, in terms of exclusivity and brand value, the Q5 still appears to have an edge.
I drove the new Audi Q5, in search of comfort, space, technology, power and exclusivity. I got some, but then I craved for some more. Since its market introduction in 2009 in India, the Q5 SUV has been one of Audi’s most successful vehicles. More than anything else, the Q5 is a very strong ‘brand’. The new Q5, launched last week, promises to take the brand value a notch higher. Has it been able to do so? To find this out, we drive the SUV in and around Delhi.
What is the Q5?
It’s Audi’s mid-size luxury SUV—slotted above the entry-level Q3 and below the full-size Q7. The new Q5—it’s 4,663mm long, 1,893mm wide and has a height of 1,659mm—is longer and taller than the car it replaces. Importantly, it has a longer wheelbase—this brings real benefits in terms of cabin space, particularly for rear-seat passengers. In fact, from a distance, the new Q5 can be mistaken for the Q7.
What are the exterior changes?
It gets the Audi trademark single frame grille, large air intakes upfront and LED headlights, with dynamic turn indicators at the rear. The company says it’s constructed using high-end steel and aluminium, making the new Q5 the lightest in its class. Its drag coefficient (Cd) is only 0.30, the lowest in its segment—the lower the Cd number, the more aerodynamic a car is. It also gets a panoramic sunroof and 18-inch alloy wheels. Exterior mirrors gets electric folding, heating and kerb function, and are auto dimming.
How’s the cabin?
Inside, the fascia has the latest Audi family look. The centre of the dashboard is dominated by a ‘floating’ infotainment display. The dashboard has the elegant, horizontally-oriented design, and gets new colours and materials. There’s generous space—front seats are electrically-adjustable with driver’s side memory function and four-way lumbar support; rear seats are like a sofa. The interior mirror also gets auto dimming function. The luggage compartment is 610 litres (rear seat back upright) to 1,550 litres (seats folded), and the boot lid can be electrically opened and closed.
Is it technology-laden?
Yes, it gets the Audi Virtual Cockpit with a high-resolution 31.24-cm display, MMI control with touchpad, text search and natural language voice control, and three-zone automatic air-conditioning. As far as infotainment and connectivity is concerned, it gets navigation with personal route assistance, the Audi phonebox that wirelessly charges certain smartphones, Audi Smartphone Interface, and an amazing sound system with 10GB jukebox.
Which engines power it?
Only one—the proven 35 TDI diesel engine, which has the output of 140kW (188bhp) and torque of 400Nm. The Q5’s top speed is 218kph and it accelerates from 0-100kph in just 7.9 seconds. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is an impressive 17.01kpl. The company says the engine produces 13bhp more power with significantly reduced fuel consumption compared to the previous model.
How does it drive?
It’s very fast, very powerful. The engine is mated to the 7-speed S tronic transmission which gets shift-by-wire control—there’s no mechanical linkage between the gear shift lever and the gearbox, so shifts are extremely smooth. The quattro all-wheel drive system makes the Q5 sure-footed on almost all kinds of terrains. It also gets wheel-selective torque control technology—in other words, the car can control the amount of power being delivered to a particular wheel. Once you shut the doors and roll up the windows, almost no sound enters the cabin. The drive, even on bad roads, is very smooth. On the highway, it munches miles effortlessly without tiring the occupants.
How good a buy is it?
From Rs 53.25 lakh onwards (ex-showroom), the Q5 is competitively priced too. It’s slightly more expensive than the now-getting-older BMW X3 and in almost the same range as the uber-cool Mercedes-Benz GLC. However, its biggest competitor—which, to some, might appear to be better value for money—is the pricier new Volvo XC60, which takes both comfort and driving technologies to the highest levels. The new Q5 is a hugely improved vehicle, but its competitors have also grown in size and stature, and one even gets the semi-autonomous driving feature (XC60). However, in terms of exclusivity and brand value, the Q5 still appears to have an edge.