The Audi Q5 is the first big launch of the year 2018 for the Indian Automobile industry. It is also extremely significant for the German car maker as they’re hoping the SUV will play a major role if the company has any chance of getting anywhere closer to the much coveted number 1 spot in the luxury car segment. They ended the year 2017 at number 3 far behind Mercedes and a little behind BMW. It says this new Q5 is a much improved car in every respect and we were once again in Rajasthan getting behind the wheels of this much awaited SUV to test that claim.
The Q design language according to Audi emphasises power, strength and interestingly width. A lot has changed when compared to the previous generation and the SUV now looks more similar to the bigger Q7. Projector headlamps with daytime running LEDs are there and the fog lamps are housed within them as well. On the profile the presence of cladding looks sporty while the integrated wrap around shoulder line also makes the car look more premium. The car now looks sharper than before and those 5 spoke 18 inch design wheels. The LED tail lamps also are a bit different from earlier car and they’re integrated completely in the tail gate which is somewhat unique. Also unique are dynamic indicators which give Audi cars an edge when compared to rivals. The dual exhausts look nice but look closely and they aren’t actually there.
The AC vents that stretch all the way across the length of the dash seen on recent Audi sedans are missing here. On the Q5 we’re back to more conventional but equally attractive looking vents. A highlight is the virtual cockpit that changes views based on the driver’s choice. The cockpit is very driver oriented with its wrap-around design and the two–tone dash provides the freshness a new generation deserves. The Audi MMI system gives a lot of infotainment options and is compatible with both Apple car play and Android Auto. But it is neither a touch screen nor is it retractable. The climate control system automatically detects which part of the car is getting sunlight and adjusts cooling accordingly. The yacht shaped gear lever is good to hold and also provides support to your arm while using the touch pad. The car also gets a wireless charging pad and the front seats can be adjusted electronically. Because of the big transmission tunnel the middle passenger on the third row might be in a bit of a discomfort if the third one is there at all. The second row also gets window curtains and the seats can be folded in a 40:20:40 ratio. The boot space has also gone up and now stands at 550 liters. The tail gate can be opened and closed electronically.
Audi has launched the Q5 only in a Diesel avatar. It’s the tried and tested 2.0 liter Diesel engine which churns out a maximum of 190 bhp. Power has gone up and amazingly so has the mileage, by a whopping 20 % which according to Audi now stands at 17 kmpl. There’s a new 7-speed dual clutch gearbox that is mated to this 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine. Both the engine and gearbox are responsive and that the fact that now the car is lighter by 65 kgs ensures a sportier drive. The maximum torque on offer is an impressive 400 Nm and good thing is that it kicks in at as low as 1750 rpm. The almost 2 tonne SUV achieves a speed of 100 kms/hr from zero in 7.9 seconds and the claimed top speed stands at 218 kms/hr.
Ride & Handling
The ride is surely a significant improvement when compared to the previous generation. Even on the worst of roads the occupants are insulated from the jerks. It also a pretty silent cabin on this one despite being diesel. All the efforts made by Audi to ensure low NVH have paid rich dividends. And then there are 5 driving modes which ensure some combination or the other will surely provide the exact kind of ride you’re expecting from the Q5. I especially liked the Individual mode where you can choose between comfort and dynamic settings for engine, steering and suspension and that works wonders. The car is stable at high speeds and takes to the corners pretty well.
This second generation of the Q5 makes a good car even better. In a market that loves its SUVs especially in the premium segment this new Audi comes in with a package that offers great drive dynamics and is loaded with features. Safety is also taken care of with the SUV getting 8 airbags along with rear side ones, Auto hold function, Hill descent control as well as a tire pressure monitoring system. At a starting price of Rs 53.25 lakh (ex-showroom) Audi must be hoping with this new Q5 it is able to counter the challenge it faces from the likes of BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and recently launched Volvo XC 60.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars