2017 Audi Q5 3.0 TDI review, test drive

    An early drive in the new Audi Q5 reveals a classy and competent car, but not an exciting one.

    Published on Oct 06, 2016 01:25:00 PM


    What's it like to drive?

    We drove the higher-powered V6 diesel and the four-cylinder petrol model. Each has the optional air suspension and adaptive dampers fitted to them. The former gets an eight-speed torque converter auto and permanent Quattro all-wheel drive, and the latter a seven-speed dual clutch auto and the Quattro Ultra technology, which can hold back on power being sent to the rear wheels when conditions mean it’s not needed, to save fuel.

    It’s the V6 diesel that intrigues most, and my word it is smooth and refined, which is perhaps a good description of the car as a whole. There’s a wide spread of torque available with even the occasional sledgehammer delivery of it such is the potency. You certainly won’t be wanting for any extra performance, and the eight-speed auto which it is mated to is complimentary and not obtrusive. But you wouldn’t ever call the car overtly sporty, which has as much to do with its chassis tuning as anything else. The Q5 is a very competent and predictable car, which is fine by its customers, but you can tell there’s probably a quite involving car in there waiting to get out given the chance.

    It turns in okay, grips well, body control is well controlled, understeer is kept in checking by the standard torque vectoring system, but you never come out of a corner with a smile on your face. Nor do you end up in a ditch even taking corners at some speed, which highlights the fact that the chassis has plenty of slack in there. It was a compliment to the old Q5 that Porsche sourced the base for its class-leading Macan SUV from the same underpinnings as the Audi, and it’ll be interesting to see what Porsche does when it gets its hands on this one. Or indeed Audi does for the S version, development of which is well underway.

    What does impress is the ride quality, matching the smooth, quiet and comfortable characteristics of the engine. Even the most broken of road surfaces failed to really trouble or unsettle the car. There’s also a discernible difference between the driving modes, seven of which are on offer through the Audi Drive Select system. The standard Comfort mode does what you’d expect, but selecting Sport mode lowers and stiffens the air springs and communicates what the car is doing a bit more, and corners a touch flatter. It’s still not involving, mind; not helped by the lack of feel from the steering.

    The air suspension has 60mm of height adjustment in it, the maximum height being the reserve of the off-road mode. Audi claims as much off-road ability as you’d ever need, and it even matched a Range Rover on Audi’s ‘real world’ off-road course so they say. The 2.0-litre petrol we also tried needs to be worked a bit harder at first than the V6 to get it going, but once the revs are up it moves the Q5 along at a brisk pace, too. It’s a nice flexible engine, with a good spread of torque and a better sound that the larger diesel. It makes the car feel a touch more sprightly and agile, too.


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