Leading the field

The new Audi Q5 continues to set the standard in the mid-sized luxury SUV class.

The new Audi Q5 continues to lead the way in the luxury class it effectively created back in 2009.

James McRory

Mark Bramley

12 February, 2021

The new model takes on a more sculpted look but without being a radical departure from the original model – more of an evolution than a revolution

Ask most race drivers and they’ll tell you it’s tougher to lead a race than it is to chase down a leader. That’s certainly a view that Audi Australia’s Chief Driving Instructor, Steve Pizzati holds:

“It’s a personal thing,” he says, “but the majority of driver would say it’s harder to lead than to chase, me included, because you’ve got everything to lose as the leader but as a chaser you have everything to gain.”

This is exactly the position the Audi Q5 has occupied since it first appeared on the world stage in 2009. Back then SUVs were starting to grow in popularity, but in reality there was no mid-sized luxury SUV class until the Q5 came along. Of course as is always the case, others were quick to enter the fray and the competition has been fierce ever since, but the Audi Q5 has continued to dominate in the segment it created. It’s done this from the original and on through the second model in 2017 by remaining true to the combination of performance and luxury it first offered, and also by continuing to refine the vehicle across the board and offering more and more advanced technology to keep well and truly out in front of the competition.

With the arrival of the newest iteration of the Audi Q5, that place out in front seems assured yet again and this new offering is honed to an even keener blade, so to speak. The new model takes on a more sculpted look but without being a radical departure from the original model – more of an evolution than a revolution.

The revised front end is perhaps the most noticeable design refinement, giving the new model a feeling of being lower and wider. New headlight and daytime running lights give a distinctive new light signature which will give those who like to spot subtle styling cues plenty to look out for. This new model also offers the all-new digital OLED rear lights which are n to only a world first but add a new dimension visually and added safety in a practical sense.

Model designations have been revised with the new model, starting with the Q5 40 TDI quattro ($68,900*) and 45 TFSI quattro ($69,600*) and the entry level offerings, followed by the Q540 TDI quattro Sport ($74,900*) and 45 TFSI quattro Sport ($76,600*). The most powerful in the range before heading into SQ5 territory is the Q5 50 TDI quattro S line ($89,600*) which is expected to arrived in the coming months and there are also two special editions available to mark the vehicle’s arrival – the Q5 40 TDI quattro Launch Edition ($78,300*) and the Q5 45 TFSI quattro Launch Edition ($80,800*) featuring a host of additional equipment.

The list of standard equipment across the range is impressive. New to the slick interiors is a 10.1-inch touch screen in the centre which features Audi’s latest operating system and the standard Audi virtual cockpit has been upgraded with more options than ever before. Apple car play is standard across the range as is Android auto and the wireless phone charger in the centre console that also slides neatly away to reveal storage underneath. The operating systems are intuitive as you would expect from Audi, making everything easily accessible at the touch of the screen with that satisfying haptic and acoustic feedback. Of course if you’re someone who likes to talk to their machinery, the new model also features a function called ‘hey Audi’ which is along the lines of Siri or Alexa, which allows you to activate voice control without first using the voice control button on the wheel. 

All of the engine variants have been completely revised and the list of standard equipment across the range is impressive

The new Q5 also introduces Audi connect plus as standard equipment across the range

The new Q5 also introduces Audi connect plus as standard equipment which connects the vehicle to the outside world and offers a wide range of services and information that make day to day life that much easier. From finding parking spots to best fuel prices, local restaurants, weather, traffic reports and places of interest, it builds on the whole lifestyle aspect of the vehicle while the safety aspects of emergency call and the other emergency functions are invaluable if the unthinkable should happen. 

All of the engines across the range have been completely revised, bringing new levels of power and efficiency regardless of which one you choose. The 40 TDI receives a power increase to 150kW and 400Nm of torque while still delivering fuel efficiency of 5.4 litres per 100km. It’s also worth noting that in Australia, the largest, 70 litre fuel tank is fitted as standard giving this particular model for example a range of over 1200km between drinks. Some very serious range that comes in very handy for serious road trips.

The entry petrol engine, the 45 TFSI quattro is likewise a two-litre with seven-speed S tronic and 12V MHEV technology but produces 183kW and 370Nm of torque for a very healthy 6.3 second 0 to 100km/h time. Both are tremendously responsive and very, very smooth and both these and the Launch Editions which share their respective drivetrains feature quattro with ultra technology, which effectively disengages the rear drive when not required and drives the vehicle through the front wheels only. 

But, the the system re-engages with lightening speed the second any slip is detected and in fact the system works intuitively, reacting to different driving characteristics and conditions to ensure all-wheel drive is always engaged when required. 

Needless to say you will be blissfully unaware of when the front or all wheels are delivering drive and trying to ‘catch the system out’ is just plain frustrating – it’s that good.

The Audi Q5 50 TDI quattro which is yet to arrive in Australia sports a 3.0-litre V6 engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology (MHEV). Its 210kW and 620Nm of torque place it squarely at the top of the Q5 performance tree (excluding SQ5 models) and mated to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission it delivers a 5.7 second 0 to 100km/h sprint.

Choice of powerplant will very much depend on your needs and lifestyle, but all Q5 variants can tow up to two tonnes if required so its versatility remains one of its strongest attractions.

Of course one of the other compelling features of the Q5 has always been the level of appointment and equipment, which again impresses and builds on past models with a wealth of inclusions.

The leather seats (front seats with 4-way electric lumbar support), three-zone climate control (with rear digital display), ambient interior lighting and electric tailgate with gesture control are standard inclusions across the range, and all offer 520 litres of luggage storage or 1520 litres with the rear seats down. Likewise, Audi’s raft of cutting-edge safety and driver assistance systems once again make the Q5 one of the safest vehicles on the road.

On top of that, the Q5 40 TDI and 45 TFSI Sport models add 20-inch alloy wheels and a panoramic sunroof, as well as sports front seats with heating and driver memory, adaptive cruise control with stop & go, collision avoidance assistance, turn assist, park assist, 360 degree camera and the 180W Audi sound system with 10 speakers.

When it arrives, the top-of-the-range 50 TDI S line introduces even more equipment as standard, including head-up display which is always of benefit in my humble opinion. There is also an electrically adjustable steering column, with memory and easy entry functions, as well as illuminated door sill trims with S lettering.

Choice of powerplant will very much depend on your needs and lifestyle, but all Q5 variants can tow up to two tonnes

As part of introduction of this new Q5 model, a limited number of Q5 Launch Editions will also be available with their own distinct styling features and special features

Its appearance in general is more distinctive too, with a titanium black honeycomb grille, a distinctive front bumper treatment which features matt aluminium inserts and a rear diffuser with selenite silver trim.  

As part of introduction of this new Q5 model, a limited number of Q5 Launch Editions will also be available with their own distinct styling features and special features. All of these feature the black exterior styling package with black roof rails and 20-inch bi-colour alloy wheels in Falx design, carbon exterior mirrors and privacy glass. Inside they add the extended upholstery package which includes door armrests and lower centre console in artificial leather with contrasting stitching, as well as illuminated front door sill trims and the colour ambient lighting package.
In addition owners can elect to further enhance aspects of their Q5 with a number of equipment packages such as the Assistance package designed for the 40 TDI and 45 TFSI models and the  Comfort package and the Technik packages for the Sport, S line and Launch Edition Q5s. 

Regardless of which variant with the new range you look at it’s an impressive package – again. I don’t like to use the term ‘all rounder’ because it might infer something of a compromise and that simply isn’t the case with the Audi Q5. It is every inch a luxury vehicle, yet its size and proportions give it genuine every day practicality. All of the power plants deliver impressive efficiency and plenty of urge, but of course those who want to really dial things up will be better served by the SQ5 which has a following of its own.

Beauty is of course very much in the eye of the beholder, but certainly the Q5 has always been a handsome vehicle and the new model is no exception. The tech is second to none and in terms of its ride and comfort, it’s the sort of vehicle you can drive all day without tiring.

It’s certainly tougher to lead than to follow, but since day one, the Q5 has demonstrated how comfortable it is out in front of the pack, and with good reason. 

(*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)