The Audi Q5 has drawn in the crowds in terms of sales in India. No doubt, its larger sibling the Q7 commands a solid presence and the smaller Q3 exudes a more chic appeal, but when it comes to a practical product offering in the premium SUV space, the Q5 is second to none. Further, Audi India has steadily and successfully been offering their latest products in India, usually within a few months of their global debut. This has not only provided them with a solid impetus in the market but has also resulted in the company having a rather young fleet in its product offering. After all, who wouldn’t want to buy the latest vehicle that’s out there and judging by the sales figures, this strategy is working well for the company. In the light of that, the Audi Q5 was due for an upgrade and sure enough, the new version is now available right here on Indian shores.
Unlike other mid-life product upgrades, the Q5 has gone through a rather substantial metamorphosis. The exteriors have been treated to offer a sportier and sharper profile compared to the outgoing model. The design ethos, which borrows heavily from the Q7, still exists but the vehicle just looks bolder thanks to the kinked hood design with fine contoured lines and the front bumper which boasts of a trapezoidal design that adds a robust flair. Another significant change that catches your attention right away are the all-new Xenon plus headlights and LED daytime running lights.
While every manufacturer has jumped at the opportunity to offer the LED treatment to their respective products, nobody does LEDs like Audi - after all they started the trend and continue to dominate on that front. Such are the changes on the new Q5 that even our resident photographer couldn’t get enough and while I tried to decipher his take on the vehicle including how captivated he was with the way the light bounced off the contours and made for photographer bliss, I was keeping to my agenda that involved better things than just staring at this machine. It was time to get inside and drive it!
Once firmly seated and buckled up, I found myself in familiar territory. After all, I have had the opportunity to be behind the wheel of just about every Audi vehicle on offer and there is a welcoming sense of familiarity in terms of how all the equipment is laid out and of course the fit and finish of some rather fine material. Now, before I fired up that beast of an engine, I took the time to admire my surroundings. The first change that I realised was already in my grip, namely the new leather covered steering wheel that boasts a 4-spoke design that is specific to the Q model range.
Not only does it feel nice to grip, it also features numerous controls that have further been accentuated with chrome rings. On the centre console, the high gloss black used on the inner fascia of the entertainment system is another change that caught my eye and I am told that customers can opt for a premium Milano leather finish to the interiors in either beige or black. If it’s style that you are looking for, then the interiors of the Q5 are a fashion statement!
Regardless, being the SUV aficionado that I am, I couldn’t wait any longer so without further ado, I pressed the key in its slot and got that magnificent 3.0 TDI engine to roar to life. Incidentally, Audi India is offering the new Q5 with a choice of three engines, namely a 2.0TDI, 2.0 TFSI and the 3.0 TDI, which I currently had at my disposal. The massive 2967cc V6 engine comes fitted with a common-rail injection system that is capable of developing 1800 bar and injection is via piezo injectors.
Further to that, it boasts of a VTG turbocharger and intercooler. It is an impressive amount of kit but what really matters are the 245 horses that it delivers between 4000 and 4500rpm and the solid 580Nm of torque on tap between 1400 and 3250rpm. Ensuring that you get the best out of this engine is the 7-speed S tronic transmission with electrohydraulic control. Such is the lugging power of this beast that you can’t help but display a slightly evil grin as you shift into drive and unleash this machine.
For an SUV, the figures are rather impressive as the new Q5 3.0TDIq is able to go from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds while returning an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 13.22 kilometres to the litre! Speaking of which, Audi claims that the new Q5 offers up to a 15 per cent increase in fuel efficiency across its engine range, compared to the phased out model. The company has managed to achieve this despite an increase in power. How, you might ask. Well, it’s a simple equation really - reduce weight and the above is possible. Amongst the various changes that Audi has incorporated on the new Q5 is an exercise in weight reduction. A prime example is the fact that the engine bonnet and tailgate are now made of aluminium. The end result is performance and efficiency, the best of both worlds.
The icing on the cake however is the sheer capability that the new Q5 displays. This machine transcends the boundary between tarmac scorcher and mud plugger with equal élan. The Q5 ride and handling mannerisms are definitely a high point. Fitted with a new electromechanical steering that allows better response at high speeds, it also offers a heightened level of feedback than its predecessor. The vehicle comes fitted with the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system which works wonders in terms of offering better acceleration, road handling and safety both on and off the road.
Adding to that is the registered self-locking differential and torque vectoring system which further aids control, especially under low traction conditions. In terms of driver aid, Audi offers the Drive Select dynamic handling system which, at the touch of a button, allows you to switch between comfort and dynamic modes which immediately changes the set-up on the chassis and dampeners to allow for the selected choice of driving. Last but not the least is the hill descent control system which allows you to go down an incline without any driver interference other than steering control; the vehicle literally brakes on its own!
It’s tech savvy and extremely capable too and I got to experience the Q5 under rather diverse conditions. While on tarmac, the Q5 was poised and well behaved, just what you would expect from a vehicle of this calibre. Ride quality is apt and while it is a little on the stiff side, you have to understand that this is an SUV and not your luxury limo! It is on the off-road course that Audi India designed that I really got to experience the true grit that this vehicle possesses.
I waded through water, drove over rocks, up a steep incline and even got to experience the hill descent function on the way back down. I drove through sand traps and even got one wheel in the air while negotiating a series of ditches but rest assured the vehicle remained easy to control and never once did it feel like it was being pushed to the limit. For a vehicle that won’t see too much mud plugging action in the hands of its owners, I am glad that I got to witness this side of this beast as well; a true revelation on what a premium SUV should be capable of doing.
Audi has obviously worked real hard at taking one of their winners and making it better. I remember stating that the original Q5 was the quintessential urban SUV, but I am now going to have to revise my statement for the new one. The latest avatar of the Q5 is the quintessential premium SUV. It has the right dimensions for urban use, is well planted on tarmac, has the ability to handle a fair bit of off-roading and comes with enough power under the hood to shame a number of sedans! To put it simply, the Q5 appeals to the senses and when a vehicle connects with you at an emotional level you know that the product is just right and it is destined to be segment winner.
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