Because, while it’s a classy, practical and desirable family 4x4, which has comfortably been dominating rivals such as the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 on both European and global sales, the Audi Q5 has also always been a slightly soulless car to drive. Competent, refined and secure, but just a bit dynamically ordinary.
It is powered by the 335bhp, 516lb ft twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 diesel from the A6 and A6 Allroad and that mighty multi-cylinder diesel certainly makes the Q5 quick. Audi’s claim is for 0-62mph in a smidge over five seconds, in a class where the fastest BMW X3 only just squeezes in under six seconds, and most other rivals struggle to beat seven.
But in reality, the SQ5’s performance doesn’t feel quite that outstanding. This is a brisk drive, but the car’s short-shifting, occasionally slipping eight-speed automatic gearbox and very linear power delivery do kill the performance drama a little.
Audi’s chassis modifications are just as important as the contents of the engine bay. And what’s notable in this department is that Quattro GmbH — Audi’s usual go-faster department — hasn’t been involved. Although with the emergence of the Audi Sport division, you can't help feeling this won't be the case when the second generation SQ5 rolls around.
Audi AG’s own chassis development team has taken 30mm out of the regular Q5’s ride height, stiffened its springs and anti-roll bars and specified new, stiffer fixed-rate dampers. The kinematics of the suspension — camber, castor and toe angles, in other words — haven’t been altered.
Our test car, equipped with Audi’s optional variable-ratio Dynamic Steering system, had plenty of purpose and grip about it but lacked a little simple coherence and progressiveness in its handling responses, and both feedback and consistency from its controls.
Although fast and stable, it was barely any more involving than its lesser range-mates on a really testing road. It bamboozled the driver, instead, in a never-ending search for the best Drive Select settings, and confused slightly with unpredictable steering weight and directness.