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Audi replaces the best-selling Q5 SUV with a model very much on the same theme, but does more sophistication make it a more compelling option than the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC or the Volvo XC60?

However conspicuous the mark left by the Audi Q7, it was the smaller Audi 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 Audi 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.

The Q5 moves onto the MLB Evo platform shared with the bigger Q7 and the A4 and A5

Audi’s top executives wasted no opportunity to crow about the surprise success of the Audi Q7’s sibling.

But then you might too if your new introduction had come from nowhere to immediately out-sell the likes of the BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander.

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.

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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 started 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.

 

Audi Q5 FAQs
Is the Audi Q5 available as a plug-in or electric?
Audi is leading the charge in the push for electrification, with almost all its models available with plug-in or all-electric drivetrains - and the Q5 is no exception. The 50 TFSIe combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 17.9kWh lithium ion battery to deliver 295bhp and an all-electric range of 37 miles. There's currently no fully electric Audi Q5, but there is the similarly-sized Q4 e-tron, which like the Q5 has the option of standard SUV and more rakish Sportback body styles.
What are the main rivals for the Audi Q5?
There’s no shortage of upmarket mid-size SUV rivals for the Audi Q5, including the Range Rover Evoque, which isn’t quite as spacious but looks sharper and is more accomplished off-road. The Mercedes GLC is more comfortable and slightly more spacious, while the BMW X3 is more engaging to drive and is available in all-electric iX3 guise. More expensive but faster and more fun to drive is the Porsche Macan.
How much power does the Audi Q5 have?
The Audi Q5 is not short of performance, as even the entry-level 40 TDI model is powered by a 201bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The 45 TFSI 2.0-litre petrol serves up a healthy 261bhp, while the 50 TFSIe plug-in hybrid ups this figure to 296bhp. At the top of the performance tree is the SQ5, which features a 342bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel that propels the Audi from 0-62mph in only 5.1 seconds.
What choices of gearbox are there for an Audi Q5?
There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to a gearbox for the Audi Q5. In fact, there’s only one option, which is the brand’s familiar seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission. That’s no bad thing, however, as it delivers smooth and fast shifts and is well suited to the Q5’s laid back character and refined driving experience. In all versions, the gearbox drives all four wheels through the firm’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
Where is the Audi Q5 built?
Unlike its predecessor, the current Audi Q5 isn’t produced in the brand’s home country of Germany. Instead, most examples for Europe and the US are assembled by Audi Mexico at its recently opened plant in San José Chiapa. The Audi and Skoda joint venture factory in Aurangabad, India, also produces the Q5, while in China a special long wheelbase version is constructed at the firm’s Changchun facility, alongside similarly stretched examples of the A4 and A6 saloon.
How many generations of Audi Q5 have there been?
So far there have been two generations of the Audi Q5, which made its debut in 2008. The original car was based on the brand’s MLB platform, which it shared with the current Porsche Macan. The second generation machine arrived in 2017 and is underpinned by the newer MLB evo architecture that is also used on the larger Q7 and Q8 models, as well as the Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga.

Audi Q5 First drives