What is it?
This is the latest example of the Audi Q5, equipped with a new 2.0 litre TFSI engine coupled to Audi’s eight-speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox. It tips the scale price-wise at £35,985, which is considerably more than many of the diesel versions.
The Q5 is part of the new generation of soft-roaders hitting the UK's roads. Capable of tackling country roads, motorways and fields all in the same sitting, these vehicles need to be versatile and sturdy while still offering good economy and value for money.
In S-line spec the Q5 benefits from 19-inch wheels, Xenon headlights with DRL functionality, and plenty of colour-coded interior stitching. The subtle sports bodykit also helps give the Q5 extra presence on the road compared to the somewhat bland-looking standard car.
What's it like?
The things we like about the old Q5 remain: its steering is light and direct with plenty of feel and the car seems well planted on most surfaces with little body roll, while the cabin is spacious and well equipped. Audi’s MMI driver interface system (a £1525 option) would benefit from a touchscreen, but with practice most drivers will soon become accustomed to its uses.
Unfortunately the same things we disliked about the old model are still here, too. The ride is still far too firm, especially in an urban setting, and if the road surface is anything but smooth you’ll be the first to find out.
The 2.0 TFSI powerplant copes well in most situations, although we couldn’t help but feel that, at low speeds especially, we would have benefitted from the immediate torque of a diesel engine. The eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox does a decent job of matching power and economy, although sometimes its keenness to shift up to higher gears means you miss out on the meatier delivery of the engine. There's a manual shift option, too, but we found the Q5 to be slow to respond when using it.
Audi says the Q5 can achieve 29.4mpg on the official urban cycle and and 35.8mpg combined. To achieve that you’ll be needing some hyper-miling motoring techniques, as even with our greenest intentions in mind we couldn’t get above 27mpg on our urban route.
Should I buy one?
The Q5 is nicely packaged on most fronts. The cabin is genuinely a nice place to be and on long journeys especially passengers will benefit from the extra space. It’s quiet, too, with little or no road noise intruding into the cabin, even at higher speeds.
Unfortunately, the argument for a petrol Q5 just doesn’t stand up next to its diesel counterparts. The engine is good enough, but we actively missed the low-range torque of a diesel unit. Add that to the real-world economy figures we collected and the conclusion is simple: the diesel Q5 is a better machine.
For company car drivers the case for a diesel is even stronger, scoring lower taxes in almost every category next to the petrol.
As a whole the Q5 is still one of the best soft-roaders on the market. Rivals such as BMW’s X3 and Volvo’s XC60 are equally good at tackling a variety of situations on the road but each has its own set of failings, too – noise in the case of the X3, and disappointing economy in the XC60.