Style on the street
WITH ITS NEW ‘OFFROAD’ CAPABILITY, AUDI’S SECOND-GEN Q5 IS THE PRACTICAL LUXURY SUV THAT LOOKS CHIC TOO.
There is something right about the new Audi Q5. That’s the sense you get when you first set eyes on it. This is the second-gen model of a competent midsize SUV. But much has happened since that earlier model was introduced. New regulations have come in and cars today have to meet new benchmarks for emissions and safety, among other things.
With this complete model change, Audi has ensured that the Q5 meets the new criteria and has room for upgrades that will take care of its usual half-a-decade-plus in showrooms around the world.
ON THE OUTSIDE
This SUV is a decent-sized vehicle that’s a couple of inches shorter than the A4 sedan but a couple of inches broader too. It is also, says Audi, longer, wider and taller than the outgoing Q5. To begin with the proportions are nice and the stance is planted.
In a quiet, understated kind of way, it conveys a sense of luxury too. The bling is kept at bay all along. The only major indulgences the Q5 has been allowed are the hexagonal (or diamond-shaped, as Audi describes it) single-frame grille up front with the big four-rings logo. But this too, in keeping with this whole effort to downplay the shiny bits, has been given an aluminium finish. The smart daytime running lights are on either side of it.
And thanks to the new Q5 being given the current Audi ‘family look’, its appearance is pretty close to that of the bigger Q7’s as well as the smaller Q3’s. The Q5’s shoulder line is much more pronounced than those of the other two though and makes the flanks look shorter and less slab-like. The rear end is neat and the tail lights now come with scrolling LED turn indicators.
Apart from the stance, any sense of sportiness is conveyed by the scuff plates on both the front and rear bumpers and the twin exhausts in the rear one.
ON THE INSIDE
The interior is spacious and well appointed. It has got a two-tone colour scheme for the first time we are told. There is a combination of leather and leatherette upholstery. While things like the seats, steering and gear level get leather, parts like the door pads get leatherette finish. There is a bit of wood on the centre console as well as a strip on the dash. The plastics are of high quality. The metal bits like the knobs get a knurled finish that’s good to the touch. The movement of most controls is either damped or has an assured click to convey a sense of quality.
There is a whole array of adjustments one can make to the seats, including four-way lumbar support up front, to make life comfortable. Inside the Q5 is, no doubt, a good place to be.
Audi has given the SUV what it calls the ‘wraparound cockpit’. That basically means that the controls and the readouts are focused on the driver and, therefore, tilted towards him. There’s a knob controller for the MMI infotainment system as earlier, but now it comes with two toggle switches instead of four buttons. The system recognises handwriting too and there’s a bigger pad for it now to make it easier than earlier, when one had to write on top of the controller knob.
The catch is that most people in the world are right-handed and the pad is to the left of the driver. This system should work well in left-hand-drive models, where the pad will be to the driver’s right, but in India it could be inconvenient to use for most people. Then there are other ways — like the controller — to do the job. Like a lot of vehicles nowadays, the Q5 has a stick-uppy multipurpose 8.3-inch high-res screen on the dash. This position is supposed to be the least distracting for the driver who’s using it.
It has more luggage space than the older model and, at 550 litres with the rear row of seats up, matches that of the A4 sedan. As this SUV is a five-seater, there is no third row of seats. The version we drove came with a panoramic sunroof.
ON THE MOVE
Vehicles powered by diesel engines of a capacity of just under two litres are favourites of most Indian luxury car buyers. That’s because these engines have sufficient performance, but are comparatively frugal on fuel. Expectedly, therefore, Audi has put a 1,968cc in the Q5 that makes 190hp of peak power and 400Nm of torque. Crucially, it has a certified fuel efficiency figure of 17.01kmpl that’s pretty good for a middling-heavy SUV.
Performance isn’t electrifying, but still the new Q5 can accelerate from standstill to 100kmph in a shade under eight seconds. Top speed, meanwhile, is 218kmph, which should suffice for Indian roads.
What’s more important is that the Q5 is very quiet and refined on the move. In the cabin it is difficult to figure out that it’s a diesel engine doing duty under the hood, particularly if the music system is on. Even if one stands outside the car, the noise level is quite low.
Ride quality is excellent and insulates passengers from most of the bumps on the road. The outgoing Q5 had a Drive Select function with four modes — Comfort, Dynamic, Automatic and Individual. Now, an Offroad mode has been added to it. We tried it out in soft sand and it was good enough to get the Q5 out even after it had been parked and had sunk into the ground a bit. This is possibly the most valuable addition to the car considering Indian conditions and could help many drivers get out of sticky situations.
The SUV comes with Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive. And on tarmac it behaves very well indeed. On some twisty roads it’s a pleasure to chuck around bends and it drives very true. No surprises. One can use manual shifting with the paddle shifters, but we did not feel any need to. The seven-speed, dual
clutch automatic does quite a good job.
GOODIES ON OFFER
The SUV comes with lots of features, many that are not that conspicuous but can improve the driving or riding experience. The three-zone air-conditioning is one of them, and comes with switches to set the temperature separately at the back. Then, the car key can memorise individual driving settings and set those for different drivers including mirrors, seat, air-conditioner, Drive Select and infotainment.
There’s in-built navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Phones can be paired using either Bluetooth or a cable. A convenient feature is the phone box which helps improve connection quality. Also the MMI infotainment system has been simplified and its ergonomics have been tweaked.
The Q5 is to be launched this week. For the moment the 2.0-litre diesel is possibly going to be the only version and expected showroom price is around Rs 50 lakh.
THE Q5 IN NUMBERS
Form factor: All-wheel drive, four-door, midsize SUV
LxBxH (mm): 4,663 x 1,898 x 1,659
Engine: BSIV, 1,968cc, four-cylinder, inline turbocharged diesel
Peak power (hp@rpm): 190@3,800-4,200
Peak torque (Nm@rpm): 400@1,750-3,000
Gearbox: Dual-clutch, 7-speed automatic
Wheels & tyres: 18-inch alloys with 235/60 radials
Luggage capacity (litres): 550-1,550 (with rear seat folded)
ARAI certified fuel consumption (kmpl): 17.01
Expected showroom price: Approximately Rs 50 lakh
Text and pictures: Abhijit Mitra