Audi seems to have done its homework very well. It knows that Indians want their SUVs to look bold, have a diesel engine and a swell badge. Enter the Q5, which ticks all these boxes and then some.
Though it looks like a shrunken version of the Q7, the Q5 is actually based on the Audi A4 saloon and A5 coupé’s chassis. Styling cues are shared with the A4 saloon as well. You get daytime LEDs along with the headlamps, the huge Audi grille and the pronounced waistline.
The rear though seems like a direct lift from the Q7. No matter from what angle you look at it, the Audi styling is near-impossible to miss and sure to turn a lot of heads on Indian roads.
The compact dimensions are very similar to the Honda CR-V and BMW X3, and ensures that driving the Q5 around town isn’t a chore (unlike the gigantic Q7, which can be a handful around traffic).
Step into the cabin and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see plenty of space inside. Both front and rear passengers won’t have any reason to complain, even after long journeys. There is plenty of room across the cabin and the loads of adjustments means that even finicky occupants will find the right comfort zone. The rear seats slide for added convenience.
The roomy cabin is a result of some clever packaging of the engine, transmission and front suspension, which lets the front axle be pushed as far forward as possible to gain maximum occupant room from the design.
The instrument cluster and general layout of the dashboard is similar to the A4. It’s all very classy, well made and easy to operate, something that we’ve come to expect from Audi.
The equipment list promises to keep you busy with the owner’s manual for a couple of days at least. You get Drive Select, where the driver can select throttle mapping, steering and suspension settings, and transmission shifts according to his preference — at the flick of a button. Most people though will choose to leave it in ‘Auto’ and forget about it. The Q5 gets a superb Bang & Olufsen stereo. You also get Audi’s MMI (multi-media interface), which controls most of the Q5’s operations. There’s also a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and push-button start, along with a reverse camera to name a few of the features on offer.
The large boot is rectangular and has 540 litres of space, which trebles with the rear seats folded down. You get permanent all-wheel- drive Quattro on the Q5, with a 40/60 front/rear bias. There’s also hill descent, where the SUV automatically does the braking on each wheel when it comes down a steep slope. We drove the Q5 on some off-road surfaces and are happy to inform you that even with regular road tyres shod on it, the Q5 handled dirt tracks with great aplomb. However, we don’t recommend you try something too extreme.
The well manicured roads of Malaysia where we drove the car meant that while ride was generally good, some cracks on the surfaces below did filter through. Smooth surfaces will rarely unsettle the Q5, though it’s never a truly relaxing ride. You will notice the stiff edge to the ride. Handling is good. The Q5 corners with considerable agility, there’s minimal body lean, and it also offers reasonable grip. The steering is accurate but a bit
India will get two engine options. The first option is a 3-litre V6 common-rail diesel with 240bhp that has an edge over rival BMW X3’s 2-litre diesel in terms of power. The 3-litre TDi engine is top class for refinement and pulling power is in abundance once you’ve crossed the 2000rpm mark. It’s inherently quiet too.
The other option is a 2-litre TFSi petrol engine with 211bhp. The 35kgm of torque and superb refinement go a long way in giving this motor good performance. It’s ever eager to reach its redline without any fuss and has generous power across most of its rev range. The petrol motor delivers a sporty rasp from the exhaust as well when you push it. Both motors are so supremely flexible and strong that you will have a hard time choosing between them. Both variants come with a seven-speed DSG gearbox, which scores for responsiveness and there is little loss in revs.
The Q5 will be on sale in India by June this year and will cost an estimated Rs 45 lakh. If you are on the lookout for a fine blend of class, refinement, space, comfort and driving thrills in a car that also packs some off-road abilities, then the wait is worth it.