The Audi Q5 – the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer's rival to the Land Rover Freelander – may not be perfect, but it is a well rounded road-biased off-roader
What is it?
This is the Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI S tronic. It’s likely to be a rare site on the road compared with the diesel models.
The 208bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged model tested here is the only petrol-powered Audi Q5. Our test car had the optional seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and Drive Select system, which allows the steering and gearbox to be altered for responsiveness.
What’s it like?
Fast, refined and unexpectedly nimble. The Audi Q5 is no lightweight, with a substantial 1740kg to heft around, but Audi has successfully disguised the weight, almost managing to make the Q5 feel like a large hot hatch.
The Q5 gets the reworked turbocharged, direct-injection TFSI already seen in the A5 and A4. The 258lb ft of torque and impressive refinement both work to give the petrol Q5 very respectable, usable performance.
Outright acceleration is better than you expect but, in truth, it’s the in-gear overtaking ability and handling that marks the Q5 out as a highly accomplished sports SUV.
The optional Drive Select does make a difference at speed, but it still seems like an unnecessary and slightly complicated gimmick. Most people will choose to leave it in ‘auto’ and forget about it. In this default setting, the 2.0-litre Q5 offers responsive steering, seamless up-changes, decent body control and sharp handling
The only downsides are an occasionally violent kickdown and an oddly schizophrenic ride quality. Town roads and motorways rarely unsettle the Q5, though it’s never a truly relaxing ride.
Drive hard down a B-road at speed, however, and offset cambers or significant depressions in the road result in the car lurching uncomfortably and the firm suspension thumping noisily.
This is unfortunate in a car that otherwise proves itself to be a polished compact SUV and, with this engine in particular, the most engaging car to drive in its class.
It even excels in all those practical areas, like ample rear passenger space, a comfortable driving position and a big, well-shaped boot.
Should I buy one?
It will cost you if you do. As ever the Audi options list is expensive and difficult to avoid. You can also get a Land Rover Freelander TD4 dripping with kit for the basic price of a Q5 2.0 TFSi.
But if you really must have a premium SUV that handles well and can seat four adults in comfort this is a good option, and with a combined economy of 33.2mpg the Q5 TFSi has more than just niche appeal.