Sandwiched between the Q3 and the Q7, Audi Q5 has not been very successful in the Indian market but with the facelift for 2013 model year, this car has been injected with pleasant modifications.
Audi’s mid range luxury SUV Q5 came back to the markets with a facelift in 2013. Living under the shadow of its elder cousin, the Q7, this car did not receive very good response since it was originally launched in 2009. Audi therefore worked on a mild nip and tuck to reinforce the position of Q5 in markets.
With three engine options – 2.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI and 2.0 TFSI - the Q5 line-up now also comprises a range of variants to suit most budgets. After the makeover, there may not be very marked changes on the visual front but there is a thicker set of equipment and that would make the SUV more endearing to premium, luxury SUV buyers.
Did the new Audi Q5 also acquire the skills to please its drivers? Let’s delve deeper into what the 2.0 TDI with 1968 cc 4 cylinder common rail diesel engine has to offer. Ecardlr has an analysis of its looks, strengths, performance and value for money proposition.
You need to inspect the facelifted Q5 very carefully to notice any visible differences in external looks. The front grille has changed and gets Audi’s distinctly hexagonal frame instead of the trapezoidal outline seen on the older version. Its detailing differs as per the engine under the hood and 2.0 TDI has vertical struts. New daytime running lights improve the luminosity of the headlamps and the round fog lamps get chrome bezels. Front bumper has also changed for a more chiselled appearance. The side skirts and wheel arch trims look prominent on the refreshed Audi Q5. Chrome strip for window lining and aluminium roof rails highlight the side profile. It is also accentuated by the sloping coupe like roofline of the car. Seventeen inch alloy wheels have 235/65 R17 tyres.
The tail lamps retain their design but are longer and have new LED inserts. There’s a new and more striking outlay for the twin tip diffuser too. The Q7 may be the brawniest of Audis in the Quattro segment but the new Q5 does have a persona of its own and is not simply a ‘cheaper replica’ of the Q7. With regards to body and chassis, this car shares A4’s MLB platform but it is 226 mm taller than the A4. Use of aluminium on the engine hood and tail gate has helped to reduce the weight of this otherwise bulky SUV.
Climb onto one of the seats and you will see how the interiors now feel richer and more refined. Audi’s Q5 cabin is also a good example of fine ergonomics. The controls on the centre console look neatly and placed. But then this cabin design is quite similar to that of A4 except for the higher dashboard. As an SUV’s cabin, it lacks the flair that is so obvious in a Volkswagen Touareg with bigger buttons, switches and knobs.
The refreshed car has better equipment and gadget galore. The MMI control system is so intuitive to use and this time its graphics have a better resolution especially for the sat-nav feature.
A serious defect that still persists in Q5’s cabin is with the driving stance. In the transformation to right hand drive, the gearbox bell housing pushes the pedal box to the right. While this SUV’s higher-set driving position implies that this is not as awkward as it feels in the A4, it still causes an uncomfortable twist in the lower body and spoils the long distance comfort. For a German luxury car manufacturer, this is critical overlooking on the basics.
On the brighter side, the roomy cabin offers plenty of legroom to four adults in front and rear part of cabin. You can also have three people on the bench seat. The high roofline makes for adequate headroom too. With 540 litres of space, the cargo compartment can take in loads of luggage for your week long vacation. The hooks and fastenings are standard features of the boot space to secure the baggage. It also has power sockets. Three zone automatic climate control adds to luxury factor.
With regards to safety, the standard features adding to the value of this German SUV include ABS, EBD, brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability program and vehicle traction control. Seatbelts are optimised with pretensioners and load limiters and there are eight air bags.
Engine, Transmission and Performance
The longitudinally mounted 2 litre engine mated to 7 speed S-Tronic transmission churns out 170 bhp and has 35.7 kgm of torque. The German engineers have positioned the Q5’s front differential before the gearbox and directly behind the motor which allows front axle to move forward and help enhance ride comfort.
Refinement of this diesel engine is impressive and it just purrs mildly as you turn the ignition on. Along with admirable smoothness it is the high-output feature of the engine that makes your drive exciting. Power delivery is instant and the NVH levels continue to remain low with faint diesel grunt audible in the plush cabin. Audi Q5 is capable of completing the 0-100 km/hour in just 11.21 second. Each dab on the pedal results in instant action and the engine does not feel strained. While the engine is refined, at about 130 km/hour the constant 2700rpm thrum intrudes on this SUV's otherwise quiet cabin.
With that extra kerb weight, the Q5 is tad slower than a similarly powered A4 but it feels brisk enough to drive in real world. The intervening gear ratios are nicely spaced, and with a broad, linear spread of power and torque, automatic gear changes are less frenzied than you would anticipate. To modify the driving characteristics in terms of acceleration, automatic transmission shift points and also a little bit of steering feel, you will enjoy using the Drive Select package.
Braking ability is appreciable and the Q5 stops almost perfectly on dry roads. Even in rainy conditions the stopping distance from 115 km/hour is 51.2m.
Ride and Handling
A range of features – Quattro four-wheel drive that typically sends 60% of the torque to rear wheels, off-road ESP setting, and hill descent control - make the Q5 quite enjoyable as an off roader. But again, this facelifted variant still does not have height adjustable air suspension and runs on conventional steel springs.
You will enjoy driving the Q5 on city roads - the car's underpinnings have been tuned to offer more balanced dynamics. This facelifted Q5 knows how to handle bad tarmac without causing discomfort to its cabin occupants. It glides over bumps and rough patches pleasantly well and you will not feel many jerks filtering in even on highway speeds. And this is what makes this mid sized SUV good for off-roading too.
Audi Q5 turns around corners with little body roll, despite the elevated driving position and 1.8 tonne kerb. It changes direction willingly, with a pivot point set well around its driver.
While the ride feels almost perfect, the handling leaves something to be desired. The new electromechanical steering system is light, making the car easy to maneuver in city traffic but it does not convey a good road feedback - this becomes bothersome at higher speeds. On taking the Q5 onto a roundabout, the change in assistance from the steering wheel can catch you off guard and it calls for considerably greater force to stop it from centring. Audi Q5 then feels larger than it actually is. In this facelifted trim however, the switch to electro-mechanical steering has addressed some flaws of the older car. Body movements also stay well in control and road grip is reassuring.
A large and well loaded premium SUV would not be expected to perform very well in the fuel efficiency category. In varying driving conditions, the FE range of Audi Q5 2.0 TDI falls between 9.7 km/litre to 12.2 km/litre.
Audi Q5 2.0 TDI has three variants Premium, Premium Plus and Technology Pack. These are priced between Rs 45.72 lakhs and Rs. 51.13 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi). It may still not seem very involving to drive but with improvements on both aesthetic and mechanical fronts, the Q5 now is a better rounded product. Audi has worked well on the facelift to make it a better competitor for BMW X3.
Value for Money: 4/5