2017 Audi Q5 Road Test Review

2017 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Road Test Review

 

Number one in its class for good reason

Audi's Q5 is by far the most popular entry in its compact luxury SUV class, and while we won't see a complete redesign until sometime next year I don't expect buyer demand to decrease one iota. And that's certainly not for a lack of competition. The Q5 continues to succeed because it was well designed from onset and remains one of the best in its segment.

Not long ago Audi updated the Q5 with new lighting elements, refreshed fascias, revised mechanicals with increased output and efficiency, enhanced infotainment systems, plus a few interior trim modifications, and while such changes were visually subtle, most will agree it remains a thoroughly attractive crossover ute. Its bold singleframe grille is still a stunning piece of vertically slatted brightwork, while the mostly carryover headlamps are up-to-date with character LEDs. The SUV's edgy LED-enhanced taillights are as fresh as anything in the four-ringed fleet, and I particularly like the classy spindle-thin spokes on my Technik tester's 19-inch rims. They're circled by 235/55 rubber, ideal for balancing comfort with more than adequate performance, while Audi finishes off this example with plenty of tasteful polished aluminum and chromed bits that included stylish yet beefy aluminum roof rack cross members clamped onto the standard albeit upgraded aluminum-tone roof rails.

If the Q5 can't get you excited about an expectedly colder than usual upcoming winter season then boarding, downhill or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, skating, and/or any number of other snow and ice related recreational activities aren't likely amongst your personal passions, but you can still take satisfaction, let alone comfort in knowing that you can get just about anywhere you want in as little time as possible aboard a Q5.


 

First off, all Q5s come standard with the brand's legendary Quattro all-wheel drive, so getting to your destination isn't an issue, even in inclement weather. My tester was fitted with the base 16-valve, DOHC, direct injected and turbocharged 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder powertrain that produces 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, a wonderfully efficient yet amply powerful design. It's smooth and quiet too, this at least partially due to how well Audi isolates the Q5's cabin, which also limits wind and road noise effectively, while the eight-speed automatic is perfectly configured to the Q5's personality, delivering quick and responsive yet smooth shifts whether actuated via Tiptronic shift lever or left to its own devices.

To this end I can't think of another compact SUV that provides the Q5's level of driving refinement whether around town or cruising the highway, its ride easily one of, if not the best in class. I imagine this is one of its most popular attributes, because most buyers aren't purchasing into the SUV class for ultimate handling around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, although the top-line SQ5 should do well on any track. Truly, the Q5 is a dream to pilot, my tester's ride so sublime it initially made me question whether it could handle a curve at all. Its first fast-paced attack on an unsuspecting set of esses verified the opposite, however, as its fully independent five-link front and trapezoidal-link rear setup is as capable of slaying apexes as its more firmly sprung competitors, and due to a stiff body structure and good suspension travel, even more so if that corner is littered with uneven pavement patchwork or worse, unfilled frost heaves or potholes.

To that end the German brand's adept engineers allow you to personally dial in all the comfort or performance you want via the Q5's standard Audi Drive Select system that features Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual settings, my personal favourite being Dynamic as it delivers sportier tautness without noticeably compromising ride quality.

All of this performance comes with excellent fuel economy. The 2.0-litre four claims a 10.2 L/100km combined rating, thanks partially to standard kinetic brake-energy recovery and optional auto start/stop. Also available, the gasoline-powered 3.0 TFSI is wonderfully quick with a 272-horsepower six capable of shaving almost a second off the base Q5's sprint to 100km/h at only 6.2 seconds compared to 7.1, while the SQ5's 354-horsepower mill lowers that 100-km/h charge to 5.3 seconds. Those wanting to upgrade to either supercharged V6 probably won't care as much about fuel economy, but for the sake of continuity the naturally aspirated V6 is good for 11.0 L/100km city/highway whereas the supercharged version in the SQ5 gets 11.8 combined.


 

As brilliantly as the various powertrains and suspension setups perform I'll also hazard to guess the Q5's many admirers are equally enamoured by its interior. As with all Audis it's nicely finished, with most surfaces that aren't treated to leather, high-end hardwood, aluminum or metallic trim covered in soft touch pliable plastics. Everything fits together well, while the striking detail of my tester's textured aluminum inlays are as easy on the eyes as pleasant to touch. Likewise for the cabin's high-quality switchgear that's tightly fitted and well damped, some of which prompts a colour MID set within the primary instrument cluster in as-tested Technik trim, whereas a sizeable high resolution colour infotainment display is standard across the Q5 line, and comes filled with Audi's excellent, user-friendly Multi Media Interface (MMI) that's controlled by a particularly handy lower console-mounted rotating dial surrounded by ample shortcut buttons.


     

Features not yet mentioned that come standard with $48,200 Technik trim, which incidentally is $800 more affordable than last year, include adaptive cornering headlamps, a garage door opener, heatable rear outboard seats, Audi's side assist lane change safety system, auto start/stop, privacy glass, and more. These goodies get added to a bevy of equipment pulled up from lesser trims such as headlight washers, metal brightwork exterior detailing, aluminum interior inlays, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, power-folding side mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors inside and out, three-zone auto HVAC, driver's seat memory, rear parking sensors, and the colour multi-information display noted a moment ago from the $46,100 Progressiv model, which is up $1,200 from last year thanks to a standard panoramic glass roof that's now grandfathered up from the base model; while $43,800 base Komfort trim, also increased by $1,200, includes auto on/off HID headlamps, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, aluminum doorsill plates, an electromechanical parking brake, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, heatable powered front seats with four-way powered lumbar, leather upholstery, a powered liftgate, a removable cargo floor, a gorgeous stainless trunk sill plate, and totally flexible 40/20/40-split rear seats that slide, recline and of course fold, the multi-adaptable configuration including a centre pass-through that lets two rear occupants warm via those heatable seats after a day on the slopes with previously mentioned ski gear down the middle, the Q5's max cargo volume a commodious 824 litres with rear seatbacks upright and 1,560 when laid flat.

Additionally, my tester was fitted with a $2,800 Navigation package that adds navigation with mapping, a rearview camera, front parking sonar, a DVD player, and voice recognition; while my Q5's fabulous sounding 705-watt, 15-channel, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade is a steal at only $1,000. You can also get rear seat entertainment, adaptive cruise control, and rear side-impact airbags, while I particularly like the more aggressive appearance of the S Line Sport package along with its paddle shifters, plus an even sportier S Line Competition package pushes the performance envelope further. You can also dress up the interior with piano black lacquer inlays or ash hardwood, while yet more options are available.


        

That's a much longer list of highlights than I planned to include, but there's just so much to like. As-tested, the 2017 Q5 2.0 TFSI Technik offers an excellent mix of performance and comfort with no shortage of features, not to mention the comfort of knowing it's as safe as possible thanks to a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS, and likely very dependable due to the Audi brand ranking first overall in Consumer Reports' 2016 report card on reliability. Still, all Q5 trims stand head and shoulders above most competitors, so we can expect Audi's compact SUV to remain number one in sales through the foreseeable future.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.

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