Audi’s four-wheel drive Q5 is a compact luxury Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that is the middle sibling, sandwiched between the smaller Audi Q3 and the large seven-seat Q7.
It was first made in 2008 and launched in the UK in 2009. Audi gave the Q5 a face-lift in 2012 and is still going strong.
It can be used off the beaten track as well as on the tarmac, but it’s not an out and out off-roader.
Diesel is the best way to go with the Audi Q5, but petrol versions are available. The 2.0 TDI diesel offers the optimum balance of performance and efficiency. The model will average 45mpg and vehicle excise duty is relatively low at £180 per year, due to CO2 emissions of only 162g/km.
The six speed manual gearbox is slick and easy on the wrist, but if you don’t like changing gears, then there is an automatic gearbox that will do the work for you. The Audi’s decent mechanicals help make it a suitable towing machine and the SUV delivers polished performance.
Ride and handling
The Audi Q5 feels alert and drives in a normal car-like way. Push it along winding country roads, and the SUV hardly leans at all. Combine this with a solid, pin-sharp steering action and you have a car that delivers lots of driver engagement.
In other words, the Q5 is the sort of vehicle you could just go for a drive in – for the sake of driving. The ride is refined, as well, so it won’t be obvious to the car’s occupants that craggy road surfaces or potholes are underneath.
Also, due to the Q5’s four-wheel-drive set up, the occasional non-tarmac trail or soggy field won’t challenge the Audi. However, as alluded to earlier, the Q5 is no hard-core mud-plugger, so if any real off-roading should be left to the likes of Land Rover.
When it comes to safety, Audi hasn’t skimped on anything. The model has the highest score possible from Euro NCAP – a full five-star rating. The premium motor is decked out with multi airbags, ISOFIX fitting points for child seats, electronic stability control and even hill descent control. This allows a co-ordinated downhill drive on non-asphalt surfaces.
The car is vastly practical, and the cabin is just right for families with children. Leg and headroom for all occupants in the Audi Q5 is commendable. Two adults will have bags of space in the back and there is room for a third at a push.
There are lots of cubby areas, including door pockets that will hold water bottles, too. There’s buckets of room in the boot – 540 litres with the seats up, which is enough for the family’s weekly shopping or holiday luggage.
The boot floor is just at the right height, because it makes loading items a piece-of-cake. And with the seats folded, a bicycle can be transported. But there is more, there is supplementary storage secreted under the floor of the main load area.
This is very handy for keeping items you don’t want to get dirty. For example, if you are carrying a bike – or even a muddy dog, you might want to stow your laptop away to keep it clean – as well as secure. In terms of trim level, the entry “SE” is all you need. Kit includes leather seats, climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth and electric windows all around.
It’s only worth going up the tree to the S Line version if you desire bigger alloys and sports suspension. Find an “S Line Plus” version and you will get even larger wheels as well as electronic aids. These include parking sensors and sat-nav.
What to know before you buy
Audi Q5’s are not cheap, but you do get what you pay for. The German marque has a well-deserved reputation for being solidly constructed inside and out. Under the bonnet, reliability on the Q5 is very good indeed.
This is because the superb SUV uses power-plants from other vehicles in the Audi stable. Other mechanicals, such as the gearboxes and four-wheel drive system are excellent, so issues are unlikely.
BMW’s X3 is a laudable opponent. Just like the Audi Q5, the cabin is well made, refined and comfortable. It’s also durable, so it will stand the test of time.
The under the skin technology within the BMW brand is right up there with the Audi’s too. The X3 looks as attractive as the Audi and it’s similarly proportioned. It also drives well. The other SUV to check out is Land Rover’s Freelander.
This is one gracious means of transportation and it rides as though it has been sprinkled with a magic shower of sophistication. At 755 litres, the Freelander’s boot is bigger than the 480 litres in the BMW X3 and more spacious than the Audi Q5’s 540 litre load area.
The Audi Q5 has ladles of luxury infused into its DNA. It’s also a practical machine, offering a gratifying drive and a good serving of room.
Certainly, it’s one of the safest and well-made secondhand SUV vehicles on the motoring market. Just be mindful that even used Audis still command top price-tags.