Published on December 21st, 2016 | by Amirul Mukminin0
2017 Audi Q5 Test Driven in Los Cabos, Mexico
It is fair to say that the Q5 is one of Audi’s most important offerings, with 1.6 million units sold worldwide since its inception eight years ago. The second-generation model as seen here is said to be better than the original in every sense and after a day with the SUV under the hot sun of Mexico, where the Q5 is manufactured, we couldn’t agree more.
Yes, we recently flew to Los Cabos which is located at the southern tip of the country’s Baja California peninsula to have a go at the latest premium midsize SUV from the brand with the four rings. The sun was glaring but the mixed range of trunk roads and freeways with the desert and the sea as the backdrop made a perfect setting for the adventurous Q5.
The all-new Q5 made its debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show in September, and will be on the North American and European markets as early as January 2017. Malaysia will welcome the vehicle somewhere in the third quarter of next year.
The Q5 is based on the shortened version of the MLB Evo platform that underpins the new Q7. As with the current trend, the Q5 has grown in nearly all of its dimensions at 4.66 m long, 1.89 m wide and 1.66 m tall. Its wheelbase has also grown by almost 20 mm, resulting in an even more spacious cabin.
There is plenty of space in the boot, as well. Depending on the rear seat position, the volume of the luggage compartment expands from 550 to 610 liters, 10 liter more than what the first-gen Q5 could offer. The volume expands to a total of 1,550 liters with the rear bench folded down.
Even more impressive, despite growing in size, the occupant cell of the new Q5 alone is 20 kg lighter than the previous one and depending on the engine, the SUV as whole has shed up to 90 kg. This is largely due to the mix of high-tensile steel and aluminium. The latter forms the front strut tower domes, the engine hood as well as the tailgate.
As for the exterior design, the Q5 is the perfect example to prove that horizontal lines are not boring if they are done right. The SUV looks stronger and bolder than its predecessor, with the revised Singleframe grille as the second most dominant feature after the headlights.
Looking from the side, the Q5’s muscular wheel arches combine well with the strong shoulder line to create a sporty side profile while the roofline descends early to the rear, giving the car a coupe-like appearance. The presence of the theme is more obvious in the rear, where wedge-shaped lights and trapezoid tailpipe trims make the SUV seems wider than it actually is.
The cabin can be a tad too familiar for those who’ve sat in the new A4 but that only means the SUV gets an upscale dashboard with a purposeful design, not to mention high-quality switches and knobs that are placed within reach, so we have no complaints.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is offered here in the form of a 12.3-inch TFT display. You can choose between two layouts; Infotainment mode with two small round instruments on the left and right to make space for the navigation in the middle, or classic view where the instruments appear bigger. Operating the unit is easy and it all can be done from the switches on the multifunction steering wheel.
On the centre console, an 8.3-inch screen provides access to the vehicle’s MMI system, which can be operated via a Drive Select button and a large touchpad. The former makes scrolling easy while the latter allows the driver to enter characters or perform multi-finger gestures, E.g. zooming in or out on the map.
The Q5 will be offered with five new engines – four TDIs and one TFSI. We managed to sample three of them, namely the 2.0-litre TFSI with 252 hp and 370 Nm, the 2.0-litre TDI with 150 hp and 320 Nm, and the brawny 3.0-litre TDI with 286 hp and 620 Nm of torque.
Regardless of the variants we drove, the midsize people carrier performed with gusto, without taking refinement off the table. The 310-km excursion that included clear highways, winding coastal roads and a 40-km off-road section surrounded by tall cactus plant turned out to be a perfect natural test course for the Q5.
As with the outgoing model, only one variant will be offered to the Malaysian consumers and that will be the 2.0-litre TFSI. The turbocharged four-cylinder mill is mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission, which results in a brisk zero-to-hundred time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 237 km/h.
No point in checking the legitimacy of that because the Q5 did feel that fast, whether it was on driven on the highway or along the dusty trail. The engine responds well to throttle input, accelerates steadily and produces some sweet exhaust note in the process, much to our pleasure. The transmission is smooth and quick, just like a magician’s hands.
The Q5 comes with what Audi calls ‘quattro with ultra’ technology, which has the capability to distribute the torque variably. It plays a large part in keeping the consumption figures low by disengaging the rear axle and allowing the vehicle to run only on the front axle in moderate conditions.
After a few hours of putting the SUV through its paces, a software developed by Audi that was equipped in the Q5 indicated that around 70 percent of the drive was completed in the front-wheel-drive mode.
The grunt the Q5 has is matched with an equally impressive ride and handling. The aluminium construction provides a well-sorted chassis that is more than capable of handling bends and corners, and yet graceful enough when it comes to dealing with humps and bumps.
That said, our take on this could be very much biased since all of the Q5s available on that day were equipped with the optional adaptive air suspension with damper control, which is a substantial upgrade to the stock steel suspension.
The setup allows the Q5 to ride on different heights according to Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic, All-Road and Off-Road modes that can be selected via the Drive Select button. We found the Dynamic mode, which lowers the body by 15 mm, to be the most ideal one to be used in this part of the world.
The off-road mode lifts the body by 45 mm but even with the increase in height, body rolls are kept to a minimum. Performance aside, the air suspension is also practical; the rear body can be lowered by 55 mm through the push of a button in the luggage compartment for comfortable loading.
The Q5’s arsenal of assistance and safety systems is spearheaded by Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) that basically enables the Q5 to drive by itself at a specified distance to the vehicle ahead by making use of its two front radars and camera.
The distance can be set in five stages and impressively, the system covers the entire speed range from 0 all the way to 250 km/h. The Q5 brakes by itself (and to a full stop, if necessary) thanks to its Stop & Go function. And as the name indicates, the function can get the vehicle moving again automatically. You can deactivate the system but it will still give you a sound warning if you’re too close to the vehicle ahead.
Elsewhere, the Q5 is equipped with a myriad of urban-focused assistance systems such as Traffic Jam Assist, Audi pre sense front and rear, Active Lane Assist, Cross Traffic Assist, and Exit Warning, among others.
Our adventure in Mexico was brief but the time spent with the new Q5 was enough for us to get a glimpse of the next premium midsize SUV candidate. Though we’ve never had the chance to sample the first-generation model, we feel that the Q5 has outdone itself with a very enticing package for those in the market.
In its entirety, the all-new Q5 rises above expectations with its classy styling, capable drivetrain technologies and high-tech assistance systems. Would Audi be able to match the 1.6 million sales record with its newest iteration? We have little doubt.
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Specifications
Engine: inline four, turbocharged with Audi Valvelift system
Capacity: 1,984 cc
Power: 252 hp @ 5,000 – 6,000 rpm
Torque: 370 Nm @ 1,600 – 4,500 rpm
Transmissiom: 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic
0-100 km/h: 6.3 seconds
Top speed: 237 km/h