What is it?
A facelifted version of the popular Audi Q5 boating a host of detailed visual, mechanical and equipment changes, all aimed at boosting its competitiveness against key four-wheel-drive rivals such as the second-generation BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC60.
Audi's new SUV is set to reach UK showrooms in October priced from £33,430 to £42,535. It hardly appears any different to the existing model, but look closely and you'll discover that there are some subtle styling changes to help distinguish the new Q5.
Up front, there is a revised six-corner single-frame grille and a re-profiled bumper with altered air ducts. The headlamps are also new.
It is on the engine front where the biggest changes are evident, with three new and one revised engine among those initially planned for the UK, plus a further two to come before the end of 2012.
Included is a new, turbocharged 2.0-litre version of Audi’s four-cylinder petrol unit which produces 222bhp and 258lb ft. The 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine in the Q5 3.2 V6 has also made way for a new supercharged 3.0-litre V6 in the Q5 3.0 TFSI successor model. It produces 268bhp and 295lb ft — an increase of 2bhp and 52lb ft.
From the outset of sales we’ll see an all-new 2.0-litre common rail engine in the Q5 2.0 TDI. The unit, which recently made its world debut in the third-generation A3, will initially come in high-power guise only, delivering 175bhp and 280lb ft — some 2bhp and 22lb ft more than the engine it replaces.
Positioned further up-market is the Q5 3.0 TDI. It receives an updated 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel engine developing 5bhp and 58lb ft more than before, at 242bhp and 427lb ft.
There’s also a new electro-mechanical steering system, which replaces the earlier hydraulic set-up.
What is it like?
The Audi Q5’s build quality continues to outshine the SUV competition on a number of fronts. The fit and finish on the early production examples we drove in Munich this week was exquisite.
The engine upgrades Audi has brought to its mid-size SUV make it more compelling than ever. The two new petrol engines in the Q5 2.0 TFSI and Q5 3.0 TFSI are particularly noteworthy, both for their performance and refinement.
However, it is the Q5 2.0 TDI running the new 175bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel that is the pick of the line-up.
Its engine is clearly improved over the unit it replaces, boasting less start up chatter and a generally smoother nature under load.
Off-the-line acceleration and in-gear performance is totally acceptable; it’s no rocket ship but neither does it feel wanting during city driving. Any lack of outright pace away from the lights is more than made up for by the flexible nature of its power delivery.
The 0-62mph time is put at 9.0sec, or almost a second faster than before. Top speed also increases by 4mph to 124mph. It’s slightly more economical, too. Official figures give it a combined rating of 47.1mpg, equating to average CO2 emissions of 159g/km with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox.
As the consumption figures reveal, the Q5 2.0 TDI’s best work is achieved at a constant cruise, thanks in part to well matched gear ratios that make the most of its strong low-end torque, allowing you to make the most of the elevated driving position as you waft along at little more than 1500rpm at typical motorway speeds.
Dynamically, the Q5 feels more resolved than ever. The new electro-mechanical steering system is more responsive and boasts greater levels of weighting than the old hydraulic system. The ride is also more controlled over a variety of road surfaces; the springing is softer and the rebound phase much more progressive, with the result that there is less high frequency vertical movement and greater levels of comfort.
Among the many options, and one well worth considering, is Audi’s Drive Select feature, which allows the driver to alter the steering characteristics, throttle response, gearbox shift points and damping firmness.
Should I buy one?
The Q5 has proven a huge success, with more than 400,000 sales worldwide since its addition to the Audi line-up back in 2008.
This facelifted model might not represent a significant transformation, but it brings a number of timely improvements, not least on the engine front. Overall, the changes are sufficient enough to suggest that the Q5 will continue to enjoy strong showroom success against a backdrop of increased mid-size SUV competition.
For those who have already been tempted, the subtle approach Audi has taken to raising the appeal of the Q5 should ensure solid retained values for used examples, too.
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI S tronic
Price: £33,430; 0-62mph: 9.0sec; Top speed: 120mph; Economy: 47.1mpg; Co2: 159g/km; Kerbweight: 1820kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged diesel; Installation: front, transverse; Power: 175bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: seven speed dual clutch