The Audi A8 Gets A Midlife Refresh
- Nov 2, 2021
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The Audi Q5 sits in possibly the sweetest spot for luxury SUVs, both in terms of size and functionality. It’s not so small that you’d label it ‘entry-level’, nor is it so big that a hotel valet would be surprised to see you stepping out of the driver’s seat instead of the back row.
The updated version was revealed internationally in June 2020, so we were keen to see how many of those changes made it to India and what they do for the appeal of Audi’s Q range middle child.
Audi has made the Q5 look less ‘corporate’. Well not entirely, but if you look at the pre-facelift car, it almost looks a little too suit-n-boot. It’s like the car won’t start for you unless you at least have an MBA.
The update feels like it’s squarely aimed at making this car get more of a personality, and it’s worked. Instead of the family-focused Q7, the look now takes inspiration from the more form-focused Q8, beginning with the new Q8-inspired front grille and more muscular front bumper. It all comes together to make the car look more aggressive and a little less business-like.
FYI - Colour Options: Ibis White, Mythos Black, Navarra Blue, Manhattan Gray, and Floret Silver.
Even the LED headlights are new and have a tribal motif-like DRL pattern that looks more distinctive, while the taillights get tweaked internals. Alas, the organic LED (OLED) taillights with selectable light patterns haven’t made it to the India-spec SUV and will most likely make an appearance as part of a tertiary update later on.
Another change comes in the form of 19-inch’ alloys, instead of the old car’s 18-inchers. Aesthetic enhancements aside, these bigger wheels do still get protection from chunky sidewalls, something we were very grateful for through our day’s drive.
Even with the update, the Q5 is still a car with understated appeal. Sure, it grabs more attention now but it isn’t ostentatious, which is right up the alley of many people buying a car in this segment.
Before we get into the changes, here’s a quick refresher on the Q5’s cabin.
Quality - As you’d imagine, fit and finish quality is top notch and it is well built. The cabin is largely appointed with robust but hard plastics, so it won’t make you go ‘wow’ when it comes to touch and feel. The Volvo XC60 feels a little more special and quirky on the inside. Contrast it with the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC though, and the Q5 easily feels like the fresher pick of the lot.
Space - The Q5’s practically laid out for family usage. Chauffeur-driven owners, especially those well over 6ft in height, can push the front passenger’s seat ahead and enjoy heaps of leg space. And the panoramic sunroof helps enhance the sense of space in the cabin without creating a headroom crunch. For the weekend trips, a family of four can be accommodated comfortably but if it’s a family of exceptionally tall people, you might find yourself tilting towards the Land Rover Discovery Sport for the extra leg space.
Boot - You can manage your weekend trips and airport runs easily. Two full-sized suitcases can be accommodated, with some room left for duffle bags.
Into The Unknown
The first big change inside is the new 10.1-inch touchscreen that comes as standard, freeing up a little storage space where you’d earlier see a trackpad. The screen is easy to navigate through and the interface is very straightforward. It does get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. But while the Q5 gets a wireless phone charger, these apps don’t connect wirelessly.
Another highlight is the 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen music system. With such an extensive setup in a midsize SUV, the aural experience is strong! The speakers have been integrated into the doors, dashboard and even the pillars so the surround-sound effect is brilliant. That said, if you like to engage ‘annoy your neighbours’ mode and play the music on full blast, it does blare a bit at the top end. Nevertheless, this is an important edge for the Q5, considering its strongest rival, the Volvo XC60, gets a fantastic 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio setup.
Safety features include eight airbags, front and rear parking sensors, hill-hold and hill-descent control (auto engaging in off-road mode) and a rear camera. Unfortunately, Audi skipped offering a surround-view camera and features like adaptive cruise control or lane-keeping aid have been given a miss as well.
Wireless Phone Charging
Virtual Cockpit Audi Digital Instrument Cluster
Power-Adjustable Front Seats With Driver Memory
3-Zone Climate Control
Powered Tailgate With Hands Free Operation
There’s a good deal of finesse to the Q5’s drive experience. The 2-litre petrol engine comes with a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission with front-biased all-wheel drive as standard. The output figures of 249PS/370Nm and a claimed 0-100kmph time of 6.3 seconds are impressive but it’s not what stands out. The Q5 is an enjoyable car to drive calmly. The power delivery is smooth, the noise insulation is great and you can enjoy a relaxing commute/cruise in it.
For the most part, you’ll find yourself sticking to comfort mode since it works for just about any drive scenario but you can also choose from Dynamic, Efficiency, Individual, Off-Road and Auto.
FYI - Claimed Fuel Efficiency: 17.01kmpl
Of course, when you’re looking to get a move on, it’ll dart ahead and make easy work of any overtake, so it can pull off calm and quick with equal competence. There are paddle shifters too, and the transmission is very quick to respond, controlling shift shock smoothly even with rapid downshifts.
Similarly, the ride and handling package doesn’t tilt heavily in any one direction. What helps matters is the availability of adaptive dampers which work wonders to deliver the balanced drive mannerisms. Our drive involved a heavy dose of severely broken roads and narrow lanes but the Q5 felt at home through it all. You will feel some side-to-side tossing over potholes or speed breakers but should you find yourself driving to your farmhouse every weekend, you don’t have to treat the car too delicately on any b-roads you’d encounter.
The off-road drive mode also comes in handy, altering the ESP setting, throttle and shift times to make life easier on tricky, low-traction surfaces and limiting wheelspin.
When you get access to a set of well-built winding roads, the Q5 is enjoyable and predictable when pushed. It still isn’t an outright enthusiast pleaser but it won’t bore you either.
Long story short, there are no superlatives to describe the Audi Q5s experience. This isn’t a car that you’d associate with one particular ‘halo’ characteristic, like the BMW X3 being the driver’s pick, the Range Rover Evoque being the one that makes the strongest style statement, or the Land Rover Discovery Sport offering the most SUV factor.
The Audi Q5 is a sensible, practical, feature-loaded, enjoyable to drive family luxury SUV. It remains the balanced pick in the segment where it does a little bit of everything and appeals to your sensibilities with ease. So if that’s what you were looking for, look no further.
The Audi A8 Gets A Midlife Refresh
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