Audi Q5 review - Can it take on the rest of the crowded compact SUV sector?

Lighter Q5 shrugs off dowdy driving experience of big selling compact SUV

Evo rating
from £38,035
  • Lighter, more responsive chassis, strong petrol engine
  • It's an SUV and we'd rather have an A4 Avant

The recent rise of the premium compact SUV has been nothing short of meteoric and this second generation Audi Q5 joins the likes of BMW’s X3, Mercedes’ GLC, Jaguar’s F-Pace and Porsche’s Macan in fighting for your monthly payment and a parking space on the kerb outside of the school gates. 

A useful 90kg weight reduction over its predecessor still doesn’t make the new Q5 an evo kind of car, but the petrol engined 354bhp SQ5 is closer in spirit, if not execution, to holding the interest of keen drivers. If you are in the market for a well-built and desirable SUV, the Q5 looks to deliver the goods against its rivals, but is it good enough to overcome some stiff competition?

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Audi Q5: in detail

Performance and 0-62mph time > The Q5 is no featherweight, but it makes admirable progress against the stopwatch. The new petrol SQ5 is oddly slower than the old diesel though. 

Engine and gearbox > Engine choice is limited in comparison to rivals. A four-cylinder petrol, diesel and solitary V6 petrol in the SQ5 are currently available. We expect the range to widen in time.

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Ride and Handling > Not traditionally the Q5’s strongest suit. The F-Pace and X3 out handle the Audi, but it has the edge where comfort and refinement are concerned.

MPG and running costs > Typically impressive Audi engines mean running costs are about as low as they get in the premium SUV class. Rivals like the new X3 and GLC Mercedes-Benz are almost identical to the Q5 where economy is concerned. 

Interior and tech > Slick and well equipped, the Q5 leads the class where ergonomics and build quality are concerned, although it can look a little staid compared to more plush rivals.  

Design > Unsurprisingly conservative, the Q5 might not look all that different to the last one, but it should date well and the boxy shape does unlock lots of interior space.

Prices, specs and rivals:

Prices for the Audi Q5 kick off at just over £38k for the 2.0 TDI SE while the 2.0 TFSI petrol is just under £1k more. Both engines are connected to 7-speed dual-clutch gearboxes and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

As standard, SE models receive 18-inch alloys, bi-xenon headlights, Audi’s MMI system displayed on an 7-inch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and leather seats, among the usual array of normal comfort and convenience features.

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Sport models supplement the SE’s equipment with upgraded infotainment, sports seats and more exterior bright work. S-Line models also include these additions, as well as ‘sportier’ exterior and interior details and all LED headlights.

But the Q5’s most interesting toys are all relegated to the options list, including Audi’s excellent MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system, the slick Virtual Cockpit dial pack, a B&O sound system and various autonomous driver aids. Like the Mercedes GLC, the Q5 is also available with adaptive air suspension, although at a hefty £2000 premium it isn’t cheap.

Audi currently tops the range with the SQ5, although unlike its popular predecessor, the hottest Q5 is only available with a turbocharged V6 petrol engine (for now). This may sound like a positive step for the evo inclined, but the V6, shared with the S4 saloon, is both thirstier (obviously) and slower (surprisingly) than the charismatic diesel previous generation car; and at a snip over £51k its not cheap either.

Rivals for the Q5 are pretty clear cut, with BMW’s X3 and Mercedes GLC Class the obvious two, although both are only available with a diesel engine with £40,000 getting you an xDrive30d SE or a 250d auto AMG Line.

Porsche’s entry level £43,553 petrol-engined Macan 2.0-litre will attract those who enjoy the badge more than the power behind it and Jaguar’s £42,960 Prestige 2.0-litre 247bhp F Pace offers the most room and practicality and one of the better driving experiences, too. Although at this price point you’re not getting the strongest of engines.

Ignoring the obvious SUV rivals we’d go for the more sensible and practical solution of an A4 Avant with the same engine, drivetrain and trim level for the same money. It’s lighter still, more responsive and agile, and with a degree of engagement about it that SUVs just can’t match. 

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