In classic German premium-brand style, Audi has aimed the new Q5 SUV directly at its nearest Teutonic rivals with absolute precision.
The new car is within an inch of being a perfect match for a BMW X3 or a Mercedes-Benz GLC on overall length, while a Land Rover Discovery Sport is a touch shorter at the kerb and a Jaguar F-Pace a gnat’s whisker longer.
That would suggest, quite rightly, that Audi is targeting the centre of the premium-brand mid-sized SUV market here. The car is growing with the class, not within it.
The firm’s new dominant single-frame grille is the crowning glory of a design language intended as the outward expression of the kind of obsession with technical precision that gives you body panels pressed with remarkable surface complexity and fitted with perfectly aligned creases while overlapping their neighbours in unconventional ways.
The car’s outline is one with raked pillars and a less boxy profile than those of most of its rivals, which is partly why so many will perceive the car as more stylish than its peers.
Overall, it’s not difficult to see why customers may like the way this car looks – but it’s hard to imagine being excited by it.
Suspension is all-independent, with a new five-link chassis having been developed in order for the car to work across a broad choice of suspension options.
Entry-level Q5s come with steel coil springs, while our S line-specification test car sits on passively damped and lowered sport suspension, which is a no-cost option.
The as-standard suspension is ‘dynamic comfort’. Adaptively damped comfort suspension or a variable-height air system are available at extra cost. Audi’s variable-ratio dynamic steering is another option not fitted to our car.
For now, all versions of the Q5 come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and also with Audi’s new clutch-based ‘quattro ultra’ four-wheel drive system, which brings the rear part of the transmission into play only when the car’s electronic brain decides it’s needed.
Only the top-level 3.0 TDI and SQ5 models will get the centre differential-based permanent four-wheel drive systems we’ve associated with Audi for so long – and only those versions can be equipped with a locking ‘sport’ rear differential.