Audi Q5 vsVolvo XC60

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Giv­ing Volvo’s XC60 a run for its money, is Audi’s newly-launched Q5. We put to test the best of both Ger­man engi­neer­ing and Swedish so­phis­ti­ca­tion and find what makes these two mod­ern day mar­vels tick

The mid-size lux­ury SUV seg­ment is dom­i­nated by the Audi Q5 and the pop­u­lar SUV has had its fair share of suc­cess in the In­dian mar­ket. How­ever not too long ago, a Swede called the Volvo XC60 showed up and de­cided to take on the Ger­man and pos­si­bly even de­clared war! As a be­fit­ting come­back, Audi was then quick to launch the brand new Q5 in In­dia. But can the new Q5 prove to be a wor­thy chal­lenger to the XC60. Read on to find out.


The Q5 is based on the MLB Evo plat­form much like its el­der sib­ling the Q7. This, ac­cord­ing to Audi has helped curb the weight by 65kg on this next gen­er­a­tion model. The new Q5 is also taller, wider and longer than the out­go­ing model. As far as looks are con­cerned the Q5 has a few sim­i­lar­i­ties with the larger Q7. One of the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor be­ing, the 3D grille which looks quite smart. The LEDs all-weather head­lamps look sharp and they’ve man­aged to make the ever-re­li­able ad­di­tional fog lamps look ob­so­lete. In pro­file the Q5 looks stun­ning and the18-inch

wheels do a splen­did job in fill­ing up the wheel wells pro­por­tion­ately. As for the tak­ing it out and about, there’s plenty of ground clear­ance as well. The Q5 also gets the panoramic sun­roof and that can be con­sid­ered an­other check in Audi’s bucket list of fea­tures for the new SUV. Over­all, the new Q5 comes across as a sleek ur­ban prod­uct.

The Volvo, on the other hand much like the Audi also uses a mod­ern day plat­form. The XC60 is based on Volvo’s Scal­able Prod­uct Ar­chi­tec­ture plat­form (SPA) which is also be­ing used by its older sib­ling the XC90. The XC60 looks rather sporty thanks to the large grille up front and those men­ac­ing Thor’s ham­mer day­time lights which have now be­come sig­na­ture Volvo. It’s the flared wheel arches and defin­ing de­sign lines that make the Volvo ex­tremely de­sir­able. Lastly, the XC60 com­fort­ably of­fers 207mm of ground clear­ance. The rear end of the Volvo is also a tad bit unique and stands apart from the rest thanks to the Christ­mas tree-style tail lights.


In­side the Audi it’s busi­ness as usual. The solid build qual­ity of the Audi im­pressed us and there is a cer­tain sim­plic­ity to the cabin, which we like. The cen­tral in­stru­ment clus­ter has driver-rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion like speed and nav­i­ga­tion that’s of­fered by the MMI Nav­i­ga­tion Plus. Ev­ery­thing re­lated to the ve­hi­cle can be ad­justed us­ing this


panel. Apart from this, the Q5 also has a nice scrib­ble pad. Be­ing Audi’s vir­tual cock­pit, the Q5 in­stru­ment panel of­fers many dis­play op­tions as well. We also loved the yacht-style gear lever which has been de­ployed in the new Q5. When it comes to space, the Q5 of­fers more space for both the driver and nav­i­ga­tor seats. How­ever pas­sen­gers at the back can feel a tad bit cramped. The boot though is larger and of­fers 550 litres of cargo space. The same can fur­ther be ex­panded by flip­ping the rear seats down. After which the to­tal space stands at 1,550 litres.

The Swedes though have a very dif­fer­ent ap­proach to cabin de­sign. So much so that the XC60 in­te­ri­ors are highly prac­ti­cal, per­haps de­signed by some­one who has stud­ied cabin space re­li­giously. The XC60 comes with a setup sim­i­lar to the XC90. Hence it gets the large cen­trally-mounted touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem which is su­per ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing un­wanted but­tons on the dash. The sys­tem

can also be used to set up var­i­ous func­tions re­lat­ing to the ve­hi­cle much like the Audi. When it comes to func­tions and fea­tures, it’s where the Volvo shines. You can even mea­sure your own driv­ing per­for­mance or even choose to heat or cool your seat. The level of de­tail­ing in the Volvo is also slightly bet­ter than in the Audi. Like the lit­tle de­tail­ing of the Swedish flag on the seats, set this SUV apart. The au­dio sys­tem is also top class and the Volvo too gets a sun­roof. When it comes to space, the Audi seems more spacious than the Volvo. That’s a bit of a sur­prise as the Volvo is larger than the Audi on most pa­ram­e­ters. The rear seat on the Volvo though is more spacious and of­fers bet­ter com­fort. The boot is smaller and can take in 505 litres of cargo with all seats de­ployed. But Volvo has gone a step fur­ther to con­sider the con­ve­nience of its cus­tomers. There are a set of but­tons mounted in the boot. At a press of one, the SUV low­ers it­self thereby re­duc­ing the load­ing lip height add-


ing to eas­ier ac­ces­si­bil­ity. It is lit­tle ges­tures such as these that make the Volvo stand apart and slightly more spe­cial.


The Audi comes with the famed 2.0-TDI mo­tor which of­fers 190bhp and 400Nm of torque. The mo­tor is mated to the bril­liant 7-speed dual clutch trans­mis­sion which sends power to all four wheels us­ing Audi’s Qu­at­tro AWD sys­tem. The Audi also comes with a plethora of other fea­tures like the Audi Drive Se­lect sys­tem in the new Q5. This al­lows driv­ers to switch be­tween five driv­ing modes Com­fort, Dy­namic, Auto, In­di­vid­ual and Off Road mode. Each set­ting then tunes the SUV to in­di­vid­ual pa­ram­e­ters which are pre-synced. How­ever, if you want to set up the ve­hi­cle to your own taste, the ‘In­di­vid­ual’ mode al­lows for that too. The XC60 also uses a 2.0-litre diesel en­gine too. How­ever it churns out 235bhp and 480Nm of torque which quite ob­vi­ously makes the XC60 more pow­er­ful. The XC60, in­stead uses an eight-speed au­to­matic box to trans­fer power to all four wheels. The Volvo too of­fers multi drive modes and is at par with the Audi on this front.


The NVH lev­els at start up en­sure that one can barely hear the mo­tor


tick over. The Q5 takes off rather fast and be­fore you know it, the Audi will be cruis­ing at speeds of over 140kmph all with­out even a slight hint of it. It there­fore comes as a sur­prise when you glance at the speedome­ter. The gears shift through seam­lessly and over­all the drive feels smooth. This is when the driver is in ‘Com­fort’ mode. The sus­pen­sion ab­sorbs bumps with ease. But the Q5’s hid­den won­der is the Drive Se­lect Sys­tem which com­bined with the adap­tive sus­pen­sion can turn the most mun­dane of drives into sporty fun. With a push of a cou­ple of knobs, the steer­ing in­stantly stiff­ens up and the SUV gets into a sporty mode. At this time, all you need to do is en­joy the curves thanks to the stiffer set sus­pen­sion and a re­spon­sive steer­ing set up. Body roll too is lim­ited and this makes the Q5 fun on the go. While on the road, the Audi demon­strates good traits but its off-road­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties are equally

good. The Qu­at­tro sys­tem can tackle most ob­sta­cles with ease al­low­ing the driver to get ad­ven­tur­ous. When it comes to fuel ef­fi­ciency, the Audi scores marginally more than the Volvo. The XC60 of­fers a unique driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The mo­tor is re­fined and the cabin too is quiet and a bril­liant place to be in. The NVH pack­age en­sures that there is lit­tle noise creep­ing into the cabin. But what we ab­so­lutely loved was the way the XC60 han­dles. There is more than enough power and torque to play with and over­all the Volvo is faster to 100kmph and even boasts of a higher top speed of 230kmph. The air sus­pen­sion on the Volvo is bril­liant and al­lows ad­justa­bil­ity op­tions. But what we loved about the XC60 are the safety el­e­ments. Along the test, we ex­pe­ri­enced a bit of au­ton­o­mous tech in the XC60 with lane as­sist. Ev­ery time the sys­tem sensed lane vi­o­la­tion it would make mild steer­ing in­puts to keep the SUV on track. At the same time the steer­ing would vi­brate to alert the driver. So much so that it ac­tu­ally tack­led a rather de­cent cor­ner all by it­self. It is fea­tures such as these that make the Volvo slightly bet­ter bet than the rest in this seg­ment.

Volvo’s XC 60 is tuned to of­fer 235bhp and 480Nm of torque

Audi’s 2.0-TDI mo­tor is tuned to of­fer 190bhp and 400Nm of torque

Rahul Ghosh As­so­ciate Edi­tor rahul.ghosh@in­to­ @bul­let­com­pany

The XC 60 (left) of­fers mul­ti­ple po­si­tions for the cover. How­ever the boot is slightly smaller at 505 litres. The Audi’s boot is larger and of­fers 550 litres

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