Welcome to world of the sequel.
Just like the movies, the auto world is always challenged by the follow up to a blockbuster. And make no mistake, Audi Q5 SUV is the real deal – the company’s number one selling vehicle.
So, for all of us who lust after the R8, the S5 Sportback we just tested, or even the TT Roadster, we have the immensely popular Q5 paying the bills so Audi can bring in all the other good stuff we love.
Thank you, Q5. Now, what have you done for us lately?
Of course, that is not to say that the car buying public isn’t fickle, but with so many competitors and such a hugely popular segment, you’d better come ready to battle. Is the all-new Q the SUV for you?
Crispy on the outside
On the outside, you might be surprised this is an all-new Q5. Audi is smart, they stick with what they know sells, and freshened it up, giving it some crisp new lines, but not going overboard. 1.3-inches longer, 0.2 inches taller, and the same width, if the old model fit in your garage, odds are the new one will fit as well.
The are some noticeable differences if you look closely. It looks more aggressive at the front, with squared off single frame grille, angular air intakes, and squared-off Matrix LED headlights. The Q5 looks a little mad – we like that, we noticed more people getting out of our way when they saw the angry Audi coming their way.
Audi says the profile is more coupe-like than before. We’re not sure if you’ll confuse it with an A5, but it does look sporty, and the muscular rounded fenders surrounding our tester’s handsome 20-inch 5-segment alloys filled out the wheelwells nicely and gave it a very rugged look. We also really liked our Utopia Blue Metallic paintwork – it seems like so many SUV’s – especially the German ones – are Black, Silver or Gray. A nice refreshing color for a nicely refreshing design.
Juicy and tender inside
Ah yes, Audi interiors…it doesn’t get any better than this. Well, maybe it did in the new Q5. First of all, even though it’s scarcely larger on the outside, the interior is roomier in most every dimension – Audi says it’s best in class in shoulder and elbow room. The design is wide and horizontal, which emphasize that spaciousness.
The first thing that grabs your eye is Audi’s available Virtual Cockpit, that not only mimics traditional speedo and tach, but gives you choices like pulling up your Google Maps on the display vs the 8-inch tablet on the center console.
The available Navigation has some neat tricks – our favorite, “personal route assist” where the system learns the routes and destinations the driver regularly selects, and associates the information to where you’re parked and when. It uses the info to optimize route planning for the next trip, incorporating the three most likely destinations and takes into consideration arrival time and traffic levels. Wow. If you’re ever late or lost, don’t blame your Q5.
All the info-tainment is first class with Audi’s MMI system – along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there’s Wi-Fi on board, Audi’s wireless connection of your smartphone to the car’s antenna for superb connectivity, and the optional Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system. 16-channel amp, 755 watts and 19-speakers. It sounds as impressive as it sounds.
Our tester also had the pad on which you can write and gesture your requests, but honestly, the infotainment system is so easy and intuitive to use – we didn’t bother.
And you have a great place to take in all this goodness. Plop down in the seats and you’ll find immediate comfort. Although our tester didn’t have the available massage function like we had in our S5, it’s well designed and plush. We’d probably have loved the available sport seats, but really we had no complaints.
Those in back will have even less to complain to about – sliding and reclining rear seats yield increased passenger room, and enhanced comfort. In our tester, they were also heated. Nice. They’ve even managed to eke out a couple extra cubic feet of cargo space with the rears folded down, creating a massive cargo hold.
Nicer on the outside, nicer on the inside, how does the new Q5 drive? In a word, Nicer.
More power is always nice, and Audi has re-engineered the familiar 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo now pumping out a very respectable 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque coming in at an ultra-low 1,600 rpm. Last year’s model had 220 hp and 258 lb-ft, so it’s a solid improvement. Hooked up to a new 7-speed dual clutch automatic, acceleration is quick and responsive, hitting 60 mph in under 6-seconds.
Speaking of autos, we absolutely love the shift lever on the new Audi’s they’re wide, fit perfectly in your palm, and respond with a well-oiled action. We liked it so much we chose it over the paddle shifters. Ok, we’re a little old school….
Although this is quick, the Q5 feels composed, calm and ultra-smooth. Oozing refinement. If you want a tail-wagging, puppy-like experience, the BMW would be your choice.
No, the Q5 is about making rapid progress with no muss, no fuss. The Quattro system not only provides superb all-weather grip, it also lets you attack your favorite twisty road. Our tester’s adjustable Adaptive Damping Suspension firms up nicely in Dynamic, but we found the ultra-creamy Comfort mode to really suite the vehicle’s demeanor. So, we usually chose that, and wafted along in the kind of luxury you’d expect in a Bentley or Rolls. Nice.
And the price, is it nice?
Ja, das price is nice… but typical of all European brands, you’ve got to watch those options. The Q5 starts at a reasonably premium $41,500. For that you get all the goodies like leather, power everything – a nice package.
Our tester had that tasteful Utopia Blue metallic ($575), The Prestige Package which is German for “whole enchilada” and gives you among other things, 20-inch rims, heads-up display, dual pane acoustic glass, interior lighting package, Advanced Key, Navigation plus MMI touch, Virtual cockpit, panoramic sunroof, Side Assist with pre-sense rear, parking system plus, folding mirrors, heated seats with memory, Bang & Olufsen audio system and top view parking system (all yours for a cool $9,300).
We also had the Driver Assistance Package ($1,800) with Adaptive Cruise and Traffic Jam assist, Active Lane Assist, High Beam Assistant and Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Damping Suspension ($1,000 – bargain!), Fine Grain Ash Gray Brown natural wood inlays ($850), and Cold Weather Package ($500) which includes heated rear seats and heated steering wheel.
All totaled, our loaded Q5 rings the bell at $56,500. For comparison, a comparable X3 came in at $58,500. So, the Audi is more bang for buck. In all fairness, this is an all-new X3, and we haven’t had any seat time yet. Stay tuned on that. We can say that the new Q5 is a piddling $600 more than the 2017 Q5, and considering all the upgrades, that’s excellent value.
The all-new Q5 may not look like a radical difference – but then it didn’t need to be.
The 2018 AUDI Q5 is a polished gem. Grab your popcorn – it’s a sequel even better than the original.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.