You can consider this section to be the shortest ride and handling group test in history, featuring the Q5, the GLC and the Discovery Sport.

And it might be a surprise to you – as it was to us – to find that the Audi is the most agile of the trio.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
New Q5 has lost weight to the benefit of agility and body control, and it rides with more suppleness

It probably shouldn’t have been a shock, because at a claimed 1770kg at the kerb, the Audi weighs less than the 1845kg Mercedes, and regardless how light Land Rover has made the Discovery Sport, it is a car that must go farther off-road than the other two, so you’d expect more axle articulation and more body lean – which you get.

Despite the Audi’s 19in rims, though, the Q5 isn’t the brittle, hard-edged car you might expect it would be.

Granted, its ride is less isolated than that of the GLC, but there’s more inherent suppleness in today’s Audis than there was, say, five years ago, and the Q5 is as absorbent as you’d realistically expect it to be – if not quite as absorbent as you’d want all the time, given that sudden surface imperfections can cause an underbody kerfuffle.

And on the upside, the Q5’s body control is good.

Around Millbrook’s handling courses and on decent back roads outside, the Q5 contains its tall body with as much alacrity as some far lower-riding cars, is happy to change direction easily and doesn’t give too much away to a more conventional executive car.

Not that it does this with any great reward. The Q5’s steering is more numb than that of anything in the class and light in weight most of the time, except on the way out of a corner when it gains unexpected heft and self-centring. More naturally, the extra weight would come mid-corner when loads are higher.

So that’s odd, especially compared with the other decent cars in this class. Anything made by JLR tends to steer well, although the Discovery Sport’s rim kicks back more than that of the Audi, while the Mercedes has a routinely heavier, but slicker, rack than the Q5.

But as it is the Q5 is a decent steering system away from being quite an engaging car to drive.

The Q5 is a decent car on a handling course — either on Millbrook’s Hill Route or on its flatter — and faster — outer handling circuit, both of which are B-road replicants.

The Audi’s body control is strong, and it’s only the Q5’s numb, remote steering that stops it from being a surprisingly entertaining car to drive — at least for an SUV of this size and height.

It’s interesting to note the differences in handling balance between it and a Mercedes-Benz GLC, mind.

The Mercedes feels more naturally rear-led and sweetly balanced; applying more power in the Audi just gives you a blunter driving experience.

Over big crests and dips the Q5 generally only has one big body movement, however, and then it’s settled.

There’s no wallow, either, but likewise there’s little harshness over large undulations.

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