Tweaked for 2013, the Q5 seems to have it all; lux­ury, com­fort, prac­ti­cal­ity and per­for­mance. But has the in-be­tweener in Audi’s SUV fam­ily re­ally been re­vised? wheels’ Imran Ma­lik takes a closer look

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

It might not be ob­vi­ous, but the Audi Q5 has been given facelift for 2013, we prom­ise.

Facelift? Where? You’d need Su­per­man’s X-ray vi­sion to spot the changes on the up­dated 2013 Q5, which are mi­nor, to say the least. A closer in­spec­tion re­veals a few tweaks to the hand­some CUV such as the sin­gle-frame grille, which now sports cham­fered top cor­ners and re­vi­sions to the bumpers, air in­lets and front fog lights.

I’m a sucker for bright, sparkly things so the xenon plus head­lights – which get a con­tin­u­ous strip of LED day­time run­ning lights around the edge, as do the tail­lights – sure get my vote. The ex­haust tips gain a dis­tinc­tive flat bot­tom and our Vol­cano Red S line test car rides on 20-inch al­loys, and that’s about it for the ex­te­rior up­dates.

As al­ways, it’s based on the A4 plat­form and this is ar­guably the best thing about the Q5. It’s a joy to drive be­cause of its car-like char­ac­ter. You’d for­get you were be­hind the wheel of a

2,450kg fam­ily hauler be­cause it’s so ag­ile and com­posed. What’s more, its 3.0-litre TFSI V6 is way bet­ter in both per­for­mance and econ­omy than the 3.2-litre it has re­placed.

With 272bhp and 400Nm of torque, the Q5 is able to sprint from 0-100kph in 5.9 sec­onds. Pretty re­spectable fig­ures, and the fact that it is 15 per cent more fuel ef­fi­cient (it boasts di­rect fuel in­jec­tion and a start-stop sys­tem) is a bonus.

Nat­u­rally the Q5 sits higher and can hold more cargo than the A4, but stomp on the throt­tle and meet with a cor­ner and you’ll be dou­blecheck­ing that badge at the back.

The quattro per­ma­nent four­wheel drive with torque vec­tor­ing as stan­dard is the rea­son you’ll have a silly grin plas­tered on your face when you carve up a cor­ner; it grips hard and hardly puts a foot wrong. It’s got a new electro­mechan­i­cal pow­er­steer­ing sys­tem, which is as pre­cise as can be, though it feels a tad light. But it goes a long way to­wards mak­ing the Audi more ef­fi­cient than be­fore be­cause when driv­ing in a straight line, it doesn’t re­quire any en­ergy for the steer­ing.

It scores highly for the way it per­forms and han­dles, but the fact it’s mated to a slick eight-speed tip­tronic gear­box is the ic­ing on the cake. Gear changes are barely no­tice­able; it shifts ever so smoothly when you’re driv­ing around in com­fort mode; it’s al­most as if the cogs are wrapped in cot­ton. But switch to dy­namic mode and it’s far more punchy and thrilling. If you aren’t im­pressed with the driv­e­train and chas­sis – which fea­tures tuned springs, shocks and sta­bilis­ers for an even more bal­anced feel – you will be by some of the tech­nol­ogy it packs.

I par­tic­u­larly like the as­sis­tance fea­tures such as the new driver in­for­ma­tion sys­tem that de­tects when your con­cen­tra­tion is weak­en­ing and rec­om­mends you have a lit­tle break from driv­ing. Also, the radar-based adap­tive cruise con­trol, which reg­u­lates the dis­tance be­tween you and the ve­hi­cle ahead, can hit the stop­pers at speeds be­low 30kph if it senses an im­mi­nent fron­tend col­li­sion.

There are lots of other good­ies in­clud­ing a re­vers­ing cam­era, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, an in­te­grated WLAN hotspot, a bang­ing Bang and Olufsen sur­round-sound sys­tem and nav­i­ga­tion with Google Earth im­ages.

The fit and fin­ish is ex­em­plary in the re­fined cabin. There’re lots of chrome and high-gloss black sur­faces in the classy Fine Nappa leather in­te­rior, while some of the switchgear has been done away with, cre­at­ing

a clean, un­clut­tered am­biance. For in­stance, the MMI nav­i­ga­tion plus re­quires only four con­trol keys, and its vol­ume dial dou­bles up as a skip func­tion.

This is one of Audi’s most suc­cess­ful mod­els in the Mid­dle East and though the up­dates are mi­nor, they’re enough to keep it at the top of the pile. It’s been sell­ing by the buck­et­load and that’s not about to change. The Q5 has it all in its locker – prac­ti­cal­ity, plenty of space and solid per­for­mance.

It may not look any dif­fer­ent to you un­less you are Su­per­man, but there’s no deny­ing that this is still a su­per CUV.

Can you spot all the dif­fer­ences be­tween this 2012 model and that of 2013 (main im­age)?

Back­seat pas­sen­gers can place their iPads in th­ese hold­ers at­tached to the head­rests

IN­SIDE INFO SPECS and RAT­INGS Model: Q5 Engine: 3.0-litre su­per­charged V6 Trans­mis­sion: Eight-speed auto, AWD Max power: 272bhp @ 4,780rpm

Max torque: 400Nm @ 2,150rpm Top speed: 234kph 0-100kph: 5.9sec Price: Dh231,300 (as tested)

18 and 19-inch wheels are stan­dard, but buy­ers can spec 20 inches too

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