NEW Q5 ON THE WAY
THE Q5, the most important model in Audi’s portfolio, could be the most significant launch in the VW empire this year.
Over eight years, the outgoing version sold more than 1.6 million globally, becoming not only Audi’s best-selling SUV but also surpassing the A4 as its outright bestseller.
It’s a similar story for Audi Australia, for which the Q5 is No. 3 in sales. More than 23,000 examples are on the road and it was the segment leader from 2009 until 2015 – sales increased year on year until supplies started to dwindle in preparation for this new model.
The international launch was on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, not far from the new state-of-the-art factory that will build the Q5.
New from the ground up, the SUV uses a shortened version of VW’s latest, modular platform that also underpins the Q7, A4 and A8 stablemates plus the VW Touareg and Bentley Bentayga.
These new underpinnings are largely responsible for the Q5 shedding up to 90kg even though the new version is marginally wider and higher, with more knee, shoulder and headroom.
For a car that looks incredibly similar to the outgoing model, there’s not a single nut or bolt carried over.
There are new engine options, the next level of driver assistance packages and even a new range of colours.
For the first time in this class, adaptive air suspension will be an alternative to the regular coil springs.
Initially, engines will be 2.0litre turbo fours: petrol (185kW/370Nm) and diesel (140kW/400Nm), respectively claiming 7.1L and 5.2L/100km.
The diesel’s clatter is almost impossible to detect and, Dieselgate fuss apart, this is a sweet engine, propelling the SUV from rest to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds.
We sampled the 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel (210kW/620Nm) that’s on the horizon - it’s by far the best in the range. Smooth and quiet with effortless lowdown grunt, it made short work of overtaking when needed and merging with highway traffic.
The petrol engine needed to be pushed along at higher revs but still settled into highway cruise mode for long-distance travel. The 2.0 engines turn a seven-speed dual-clutch auto while the 3.0 uses a regular eight-speed auto.
The optional air suspension with adaptive dampers comes from the large Q7.
Against such newcomers as the Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes GLC and Porsche Macan, the Q5 was starting to show its age.
The new model cedes some cabin space to the F-Pace, ride comfort to the GLC and on-road poise to the Macan.
But it should be cheaper than all three when it hits the road later next year.
The Made-in-Mexico Audi Q5 arrives in about a year.