However conspicuous the mark left by the Audi Q7, it was the smaller Q5 that really uncorked the sales potential of SUVs that its maker had been leaving hitherto untapped when the model first appeared almost a decade ago.
Launched against a backdrop of uncertainty about whether buyers would take to a mid-size pseudo off-roader from Ingolstadt, the Q5 delivered an emphatic answer by smashing its sales targets and becoming the best-selling car in its class for several years of its life.
It helped, of course, that the Q5 entered one of the fastest-growing market niches in Europe, and it was underlined by the fact that the first-generation incarnation of the model reached more owners on our continent in the final 12 months of its life than it had in its first full year on sale.
This time around, you can bet the importance of the Q5 will not be underestimated. And in reflection of the fact that the outgoing model became a hugely successful global product over the course of its life (it attracted more buyers in China last year than it did in Europe and the US combined), the new one moves out of the original version’s German production base at Ingolstadt and into a consolidated facility in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico.
Like so many of Audi’s other recent introductions, it also moves onto the firm’s MLB Evo model platform, which not only allows it to grow slightly in all three major dimensions but also to hit a kerb weight that is on average 90kg less than that of its predecessor on a model-for-model basis.
Audi is starting the UK model range small but will flesh it out later, initially giving British buyers the choice of 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel, a 249bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo, a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI and topped by the 349bhp SQ5. Diesels of both lesser and greater outputs should follow, along with a plug-in hybrid version in late 2018.
We have elected to test the 2.0 TDI.