general auto

Bigger, better, faster and more tech-savvy than ever before.

Forget, for a moment, all those headline-stealing R8s or tiny-and-taut TTs, the brightest-shining star in Audi’s Australian lineup is actually its Q5 SUV.

It’s Audi’s best-selling single body model here (pipped by the combined total of the various A3 body shapes), and has shifted almost 24,000 units since its 2009 launch. And up until 2015, it was the best-selling mid-size premium SUV, too, knocking off the best its fellow-German competition could muster.

So yep, the Q5 is an important car for Audi, and with an all-new 2017 model that’s slightly bigger, slightly faster and with a whole heap more technology regardless of your price range, the brand has high hopes for this one, too.

We liked it when we drove it on its international preview along the Baja Peninsula in Mexico (where the new Q5 will also be manufactured). But this was our first opportunity to sample it on Australian roads.

So the big question is, does it live up to the hype?

Should you tackle a twisting road, the new Q5 stays reassuringly flat through direction changes.

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Design

It’s evolution over revolution, and despite being all-new under the metal, the Q5 looks simply like a more modern and refreshed version of its former self. And that’s no bad thing.

The ‘Single-Frame’ Audi grille that dominates the front-on view has undergone a redesign to take on a kind of 3D effect, while that razor-sharp ‘Tornado Line’ that turned up on the A5 and S5 also makes an appearance on the Q5, running the length of the body from its reworked headlights to the rear windscreen. It’s a cool-looking exterior design element to which the images don’t do justice, and it adds texture to the otherwise smooth body lines of the Q5.

Inside, expect a well-crafted interior, though one that feels just a little more cold and clinical than it looks in the interior photos, with premium-feel materials and a perfectly executed fit and finish, with interior dimensions growing slightly so there’s more space for passengers and luggage.

And where is the Audi Q5 built? In a new and purpose-built factory in Mexico.

Practicality

The Q5 has grown in every dimension (except for width), now sitting 34mm longer, 6mm taller and on a 12mm longer wheelbase, and those tiny adjustments make for a more practical interior.

Boot space is now 550 litres (up from 540 litres in the outgoing car) with the 40/20/40 split rear seat in place. But the second row of seats can be fixed on rails, allowing it slide forward to maximise boot size (increasing it to 610 litres), or backwards to maximise passenger space in the backseat. The sliding function is optional, however, and arrives as part of a $1900 Comfort Package, but cargo capacity is healthy even without it.

Boot space is now 550 litres.

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Audi claims an increase is head and rear legroom, and the Q5 does feel spacious and airy from every seat (save for the middle seat in the second row, which is going to feel a little snug for adult passengers). The seat backs have a storage net fitted as standard, and the cabin is filled with storage cubby holes and trays to store loose items.

Front row passengers share a pair of cup holders hidden beneath a sliding cover, and there’s plenty of room in the doors for bottles. Backseat passengers share another two hidden in a pulldown divider between the window seats, and also get their own air-conditioning controls.

The ISOFIX attachment points are in each window seat in the back for your baby car seats, too.

Price and features

The 2017 Q5 won’t actually launch in Australia until June, but Audi is excited, inviting us to a chilly Canberra for a brief preview drive ahead of a more comprehensive launch later in the year.

It will initially arrive with two engines across two trim levels: the diesel-only Design and the diesel or petrol Sport. The bad news? All three have climbed in price, from $2,300 for the entry-level diesel, to $3,584 for the top-spec petrol model. The price list now spans $65,900 to $73,500. Those are the recommended retail prices (RRP), with no drive-away price list currently available. Check with your dealer for the state-specific costs closer to the Q5’s formal launch.

The Audi Q5 models start with the TDI Design ($65,900), and in terms of standard features you can expect 18-inch alloys, LED DRLs and tail lights, aluminium roof rails and proximity unlocking with an auto-opening boot that opens when you wave your foot under it. Inside, expect leather-appointed seats that are powered in the front, along with tri-zone climate control and a 7.0-inch, sat-nav-equipped infotainment screen that’s both Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped (so it will sync with your iPhone or Android device). It’s also DAB digital radio equipped, and it pairs with an eight-speaker stereo. You’ll also get cruise control, and floor mats below both the front and rear seats.

If you’re wondering how many seats the Q5 has, the clue is right there in the name.

Step up to the TDI Sport ($70,700) or top-of-the-range TFSI Sport ($73,500) models, and you’ll find 20-inch alloy wheels (vs 18-inch rims in the entry-level model comparison), adaptive LED headlights, heated and powered side mirrors, leather seats with sport-style chairs in the front. Your sound system is also upgraded to a better unit with 10 speakers (and a CD/DVD player), which pairs with a bigger 8.3-inch screen. Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ also appears as standard – a 12.3-inch digital screen that replaces the traditional display in the driver’s binnacle and makes following GPS instructions a breeze. In lieu of a touch screen, you get a touchpad that lives in the centre console to help cycle through the multimedia options. It’s a cool addition to the top trim level’s tech accessories.

A panoramic sunroof is a cost option, as are Matrix headlights -a nifty addition to Audi's ever-growing range to technology gadgets - that replace dipping headlights by continuing to partially illuminate the road ahead, even in the face of oncoming traffic.

If you're wondering how many seats the Q5 has, the clue is right there in the name. This is a standard five seater, so there's plenty of room in the boot for luggage.

Standard Audi Q5 colours include, Brilliant Black and Ibis White, which are no-cost options. The rest are metallic paints, including Azores Green, Florett Silver, Manhattan Grey, Matador Red, Monsoon Grey, Moonlight Blue, Mythos Black and Navarra Blue, with brown, orange and yellow missing from the palette. Each of the non-standard colours will cost you $1,420 or $1,846.

Engine & trans

There's a single diesel and single petrol engine on offer - both an identical 2.0-litre engine size - across the Q5 range (though expect something considerably punchier when the performance-flavoured SQ5 arrives later in the year with a bigger motor and much more power). Both are paired with an automatic, with no manual transmission available anywhere in the range.

The 2.0 TDI engine is shared across the Design and Sport trim levels, and its specs read 140kW (187 horsepower) at 3800rpm and the healthiest torque specs in the initial range, with 400Nm from 1750rpm. The power is sent to all four wheels as standard via a reworked quattro 'ultra' system and a new seven-speed automatic transmission. That's enough to push the diesel-powered Q5 from 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds (0.5sec quicker than the corresponding outgoing model), and on to a top speed of 218km/h.

The  turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine features only in the Sport trim level, and its engine specs are 185kW (248 horsepower) at 5000rpm and 370Nm at 1600rpm, which is again sent all four wheels via Audi's seven-speed automatic. That's enough to squeeze out a 6.3 second sprint to 100km/h and a 273km/h top speed. They're good-sounding stats, and we have a sneaking suspicion the petrol might be the pick of the initial range.

There's a single diesel and single petrol engine on offer - both an identical 2.0-litre engine size - across the Q5 range.There's a single diesel and single petrol engine on offer - both an identical 2.0-litre engine size - across the Q5 range.

Now, it might look like a four-wheel drive, but the Audi Q5 is designed for urban work, so if you're looking for a sky-high towing capacity or a super impressive towing review (though the diesel is rated to 2000kg braked), look elsewhere. The AWD system is set up more for icy road surfaces (the kind you might find in Europe) rather than a true, low-range 4WD unit, too, so its off-road capability is limited to lighter duties, hurting any potential off-road reviews. Available as a cost option on everything but the entry-level model is adaptive air rear and front suspension, which can increase your ground clearance (mm) and wading depth when you engage off-road mode. The turning circle across the Q5 range is 11.7m.

The Q5 range uses a timing belt instead of a chain, and demands a synthetic 5W-40 oil, with capacity dependent on engine size and type. For customer-reported issues, problems and common faults, including any known transmission problems, gearbox problems or complaints of excess oil consumption, please see our Problems page.

While Audi doesn't quote a gross vehicle weight, the unladed weights (including a 75kg driver), are 1845kg for the diesel variants, and 1795kg for the petrol variants.

Fuel consumption

The diesel fuel consumption is impressive, sipping a miserly 5.3L/100km on the claimed/combined cycle (0.7 litres less than the outgoing model) and emitting a claimed 139g per kilometre of C02. The 2.0-litre petrol engine gets worse mileage, requiring 7.3 litres to go the same distance on the claimed/combined cycle, with C02 emissions pegged at 167g/km. There's no LPG, electric or hybrid option on offer.

The Q5 fuel tank capacity is 65 litres, with the diesel adding a smaller-size, 24-litre tank for the additive AdBlue. Petrol variants are equipped with a 70-litre fuel tank.

Driving

This new Audi Q5 is hugely likeable from behind the wheel, and feels exactly as a premium SUV probably should. The cabin is spacious and comfortable (though the 'sports' seats do little to hold you in place when you start to ask some questions of it) and the fit and finish is absolutely bang on.

Being a brief preview drive, we were only able to sample the Sport trim level in diesel flavour - and our test car was fitted with optional adaptive suspension at $1654) - but it shines on the kinds of smooth, sweeping roads that encircle our nation's capital, and even holds its own on the more tight and twisty stuff.

The diesel is quiet under acceleration, the road noise virtually non-existent and the seven-speed transmission seamless in the way it hunts down the best gear as you gather speed. The engine isn't hugely powerful, and the Q5 is still a lot of car (despite being 90kg lighter this time around) so a speed demon it ain't, and the performance figures are unlikely to set your pulse racing, but there is plenty of torque lurking all around the rev range to get you moving.

Should you tackle a twisting road, the new Q5 stays reassuringly flat through direction changes, with almost no side-to-side rocking, but it does reveal some on-centre vagaries in its steering.

This new Audi Q5 is hugely likeable from behind the wheel, and feels exactly as a premium SUV probably should.This new Audi Q5 is hugely likeable from behind the wheel, and feels exactly as a premium SUV probably should.

New for this model is what Audi calls its quattro 'ultra' system - a fuel-saving tactic that sees the Q5 switch to front-wheel drive when it can, jumping back to all-paw in one-one hundredth of a second when it feels a change in road surface or should you plant your accelerating foot. All of which sounds wonderful, but the crucial part is the changes are utterly seamless, and go entirely unnoticed in the cabin.

Safety

Beyond the eight airbags (dual front, front and rear side and curtain airbags), reverse camera and front and rear parking sensors, Audi has also included AEB with pedestrian detection on the standard safety features list, as well a driver fatigue detection system and a rear collision warning setup that flashes the hazards to let oncoming cars know you're stopping. You'll also find cross traffic assist, blind-spot monitoring and hill hold assist. Park assist is available as a cost option on both Sport models.

Step up to the Sport trim level, and you'll add adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights and turn assist, which warns you of oncoming cars when turning across traffic.

The outgoing Q5 range scored the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2009.

Ownership

The Audi Q5 is covered by a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms. Audi don't offer a capped-price service costs scheme, but instead allows you to prepay your maintenance costs for the first three years of ownership at the time of purchase. That number is still being finalised, but will be confirmed closer to the car's June launch. Audi isn't anticipating any supply issues, which is good news for potential waiting times, too.

All Q5s arrive with an owner's manual, and a space-saver instead of a full-size spare. Too early to make a call on the Q5's reliability rating and resale value.

Fans of the outgoing Q5 will find lots to like about this new model.

Verdict

Bigger, better and more tech-savvy than ever before, fans of the outgoing Q5 will find lots to like about this new model.

The diesel engine is smooth, the cabin is refined and the ride is comfortable, which are three fairly sizeable ticks in the mid-size SUV world.

We'd prefer a touch more power under our right foot, and look forward to sampling a quicker variant.

This story originally appeared on CarsGuide

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