Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway -

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.

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