The first models in the all-new second generation Audi Q5 mid-sized SUV range are just starting to arrive with their new UK owners.
The first arrivals are both 2.0-litre turbocharged engines; a 252hp TFSI petrol unit and a 190hp TDI diesel, all have S tronic auto transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. In due course the range will offer the choice of three petrol and three diesel engines. Specification levels are SE, Sport and S line. On-the-road prices currently start from £38,305 and rise to £41,355 including the new higher First Year VED road tax rates.
At the media launch this week I managed to get behind the wheel of the best selling model even after additional versions are introduced. This was the 2.0-litre, TDI 190hp quattro S tronic S line costing £40,290 on-the-road.
The latest Q5 is all-new built in a brand new factory in Mexico for global sales. The first thing I noticed were the new styling lines and sharp creases in the bodywork, a significant improvement over the previous rounded shape which gives the vehicle more ‘character’. As before it has five doors and five seats with a slightly larger load space of 550-litres and folding the rear three seats this goes up to 1,550-litres.
There is the usual high quality Audi signature interior with many of the same controls, instruments and overall layout of most new generation models. Improved levels of standard specification include Audi Drive Select, twin leather heated front seats, parking system and powered tailgate. Sport and S line models gain MMI Navigation with Audi Connect and S line versions gain LED headlights and dynamic indicators.
There is the new cost option of adaptive air suspension with variable ride height and off-road modes but the new standard suspension is much more compliant than before even allowing for the 19-inch wheels and ‘S’ sport suspension fitted to my test car. Providing a more comfortable ride as standard is one of the major improvements made by Audi for their new cars. The handling agility has also improved as the vehicle is 90kg lighter than its predecessors.
Also noticeable was the hushed ride with less engine noise intrusion and less wind and road noise as well. It just felt like a more polished performer. There is no doubt that although classed as an SUV with 4WD most vehicles of this nature are no longer aimed at the work-horse sector of the market, indeed the number of 4x4s available for those that really need off-road performance are getting less and less as manufacturers push their products further upmarket into the lifestyle bracket. Yes this new Q5 will have some off-road ability and it has a Descent Control function but mainly away from city streets and open roads it might be used occasionally to negotiate rougher tracks and a grassy field but in the main it will be used as a family or business car with the potential to tow a boat, trailer or horsebox. The braked towing weight of this model is 2,400kg.
On road the Q5 is well balanced although with some cornering body roll due to its increased height if driven at higher speeds. It felt a big car to ‘muscle’ through winding country roads but sure-footed all the same. Around town and in the commonplace stop-start commuter traffic it was a doddle to drive.
Top speed is 135mph, zero to 62mph takes just 7.9-seconds and the Combined Cycle fuel consumption with the 19-inch wheels for this specification level is 55.4mpg. On my test drive around the Warwickshire country roads the real-life figure was 42.3mpg. With CO2 emissions 136g/km, the new VED road tax costs are £200 First Year rate and then £140 for the standard rate thereafter. However my test drive version, the expected best-seller from the range, the on-the-road price crept over the new £40k price cap for a new car so on top of the standard rate charge there will be an extra annual charge for five years of £310.
Again with so many new premium brand cars bought from 1 April this year customers really need to select the model and added extra cost options with care so as not to get stung with added tax costs. In the case of the new Audi Q5 it probably is an extra price worth paying.
Mini Milestones: Audi Q5 SUV 2.0 TDI quattro 190hp, S line S tronic (best selling model). Price: £40,290. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 190hp, 400Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 7-speed dual clutch automatic, quattro all wheel drive. Performance: 135mph, 0-62mph 7.9-seconds, Combined Cycle 55.4mpg (42.3mpg on test), CO2 136g/km, VED road tax £200 First Year rate then £140 standard rate + £310 for 5-years as the vehicle costs more than £40k, BIK company car tax 29%. Insurance group: 30E tbc. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. For: Sharper styling, improved specification, better ride comfort, low noise intrusion, low depreciation cost. Against: Select the model, wheel sizes and options with care due to increased VED tax costs. Miles Better News Agency