Auto focus

Sequel to Audi’s best seller delivers even better performance

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on January 11, 2018

The rear is slightly different from its predecessor

Smooth sailing The yacht-style gear selector adds some oomph to the cabin S MURALIDHAR   -  S Muralidhar

The second generation Q5 is much better looking, quicker and more frugal too

Audi’s most important model in India has been the one looking the most over-familiar , the past two years. The Q5’s importance can’t be over-emphasised; and was just a few years ago nearly a default choice for its curvaceous design and attractive equipment levels. It has been the best-selling compact luxury SUV in the market; clocking more than 1.6 million units in cumulative sales for Audi globally.

Yet, the competition has moved ahead and a flurry of new models from brands like Volvo, Lexus and Jaguar has made the current Q5 look a bit dated. Fortunately, Audi has decided to bring in the new Q5 barely a year after its global debut. The new, second generation of the Q5 is sharper in design and performance, more aerodynamic and offers more equipment. Audi India is hoping that the new Q5 will woo customers away from the competition.

The 2018 model is built on the Volkswagen MLB evo platform shared by the new Q7, A4 and A5. It is now bigger across dimensions, offers more room inside and yet is 65 kg lighter. So, how does it feel to be behind the wheel? I head to Pushkar, Rajasthan’s mela capital to find out.

Design

The new Q5’s design changes are not an aggressive slash and chop meant to give it a completely new look. Instead, they are subtle, yet substantial enough to make it seem very different; even deceptively smaller to look at despite the added inches. One clear direction that is evident though is the way the new Q5’s front has been designed to resemble the bigger Q7. The new hexagonal grille with its matte chrome single frame with 3D surfacing and the headlamps are both features that are meant to give away the larger sibling’s influence on the design. The horizontal chrome slats in the grille and large air intake panels, and the new design signature LED daytime running lamps add to that perception of width to the front. It also features sharper, deeper creases on the bonnet; the tornado line that elegantly runs over the now-more-prominent wheel arches all the way to the rear also gives it a fresh side profile.

The only weak bit when the new Q5 is viewed from the side are the 18-inch alloys that don’t sufficiently fill out the wheel arches.

At the rear, the new Q5’s design is familiar and yet different. Fewer design changes here for sure, especially since the curvy tailgate with its ‘unsplit’ tail-lamps on either side continues to be an Audi SUV design signature.

The tail-lamps themselves also feature only minor changes to the shape, though they get a 3D construction and a new design combination for the LED signature brake lights.

Another sharp crease that runs across the tail-gate and connects the tornado line on either side gives the rear more character and adds to the layered theme for the hatch. The chunky rear fender features additional stop and reverse lights, and also sports faux exhaust finishers that are embedded into an aluminium underbody protector.

Cabin

I step into the cabin of the new Q5 and am surrounded by a number of trim elements that place this second generation model firmly within the Audi sedan family. The yacht style gear selector, the Audi virtual cockpit instrument display behind the wheel and the aircon controls on the centre stack remind me of the A5 and A4 sedans. The new Q5’s dashboard layout has been designed to emphasise width and reiterate the driver orientation of the cabin. Long uninterrupted panels and a dual colour theme make the cabin seem more spacious. The cabin also feels airy and well-lit thanks to the large greenhouse and the addition of a panoramic sunroof.

The centre stack is simple with just the 21 cm MMI monitor set at the top. Most knobs and buttons offer simple, intuitive control. The 31.2 cm customisable Audi virtual cockpit display is a great feature and can be very addictive especially if you get used to the navigation display. The centre console sports the most usable features and includes the new MMI control touchpad, the Audi phone box with induction charging for Qi enabled smartphones and the 10-speaker music system’s controls. The Q5’s seats have been constructed in a combination of leather and leatherette. Front seats offer multiple adjustments and the rear seats can also be reclined and adjusted for a bit more legroom. The seats are firm and supportive; just as expected even at the rear. The boot space on offer can vary from 550 litres to 1,550 litres (if the rear seats are folded).

Performance

The test mule that Audi offered for the drive was the 35 TDI, which is the company’s nomenclature for its inline four-cylinder diesel engine. This 1,968 cc DOHC engine features a variable geometry turbocharger and delivers a peak power of 190 hp and a peak torque of 400 Nm. The engine now offers about 8 per cent more power, but is said to be upto 20 per cent more efficient. The new Q5’s ARAI-rated mileage is a claimed 17.01 kmpl. Paired with the engine is Audi’s seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch auto transmission. Audi says there are improvements in the transmission to enable smoother shifts. The gearbox’s dual mass flywheel now features a centrifugal pendulum to counter and even out the shift vibrations. On the road the new Q5 clearly feels quicker, due probably to the combination of more power and the weight savings. The 13 extra horses are best worked in dynamic mode, though the opportunities that presented themselves on the mostly straight stretches of highway around Pushkar and Jaipur weren’t many. The other drive modes available included Comfort, Auto, Individual and Off-Road. Of course, Audi’s famous ‘quattro’ drivetrain with its wheel-selective torque control is standard fitment on the new Q5 and is a big plus for buyers. Much of the 400 Nm of torque is delivered just past the 2,000 rpm level and so the Q5 is not found wanting for extra pulling power in any situation on the road. Though much of the power and torque is bunched up in the mid-range, the vehicle pulls clean all the way to the engine rpm redline. The gearbox changes character nicely with the different modes and the paddle shifters make it more usable and agile when necessary.

Bottomline

Assisted by ‘quattro’, the new Q5 feels confident and well settled on tarmac, and would have let me take tight turns with a lot of confidence. There is almost no body roll thanks to a fairly stiff five-link suspension set-up and the new electromechanical steering offers precise control though it remains light overall. The adaptive suspension with damper control however alters ride quality depending on the drive mode selected. In comfort mode it loosens up enough to smoothen out potholes and bumps, but stays firm enough not to let down the Q5’s poise.

The SUV is stepping into the shoes of its successful predecessor. With fewer special touches in the trim used, the new model’s cabin looks less exciting compared to a few of the new competitors like the Lexus NX 300h, Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Volvo XC60. In terms of the sheer number of safety equipments and electronic aids on the list, the competitors may also score points, though how many are useful on our roads is doubtful.

But, the new Q5 has a lot going for it with practical equipments rooted in everyday conditions. Audi will probably look at a marginal price increase keeping it within the ₹50-60 lakh segment. At the time of launch, the two-litre TDI will be the only engine option.

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

Published on January 11, 2018
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor