Audi Downtown Vancouver unveils new Q5 to packed house

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc. 

Q5 reveal includes a five senses display of Vancouver's best

When you pull up to Dilawri Group's metal-clad, angled glass Audi Downtown Vancouver facility on Burrard Street, you know you've arrived. It's easily the most impressive architectural feat in an area that's long been the go-to location for luxury auto shopping in the Terminal City.

The actual address is 1788 W 2nd Ave, and the valets on hand to park guests' cars certainly added to the red carpet feel. The event? The Vancouver unveiling of what is arguably Audi's most important vehicle, and the most popular compact luxury SUV in the entire Canadian market.

Even after five years on the road without a major update, the Q5 finished off the 2016 calendar year with a record 8,313 sales as well as number-one status in its burgeoning class. Then again, being top of the pack is nothing new for the Q5. The stylish SUV's sales have been steadily climbing every year since inception in 2009, and its segment sales leadership has never been in question with more than 1.5 million units sold since inception globally. Therefore it's no wonder so many guests showed up to take part in the launch of the all-new 2018 Q5.

Dilawri Group's Audi Downtown Vancouver knows how to throw a party

After being greeted at the door, attendees were ushered past the lower showroom and its bright and colourful display of Audi's 2017 lineup, and up the escalator to the second floor of the 56,000 square-foot establishment. A large open ballroom-style glass-wrapped showcase that's normally filled to the brim with yet more shiny multicoloured Audis was highlighted by just three, including an all-new 2018 A5 at one side of the escalator, an equally fresh 2018 S5 Sportback on the other, and a yet unseen Q5 under wraps at the far end of the room. It all looked more like a Hollywood after party for the next "Transporter" film (that Audi fans still wish had Jason Statham in the driver's seat-sorry Ed Skrein) than a purveyor of automobiles, albeit one more brightly lit by evening sunshine than the usual darkened nightclub atmosphere preferred by the acting elite.

No shortage of well-known Vancouver VIPs, mingling with Audi regulars (the evening's most important VIPs), filled the room long before the new Q5 was to be unveiled, taking selfies in front of an Audi Downtown Vancouver backdrop, breathing in various aromatherapy fragrances on display, watching contemporary live performing artist and three-time Art Battle Canada Star Champion Yaren N. bring to life a large colourful painting of a new Q5 racing into a wooded evening scene.

All the while partygoers sipped Giacondi Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane (Italy), Trapiche Vineyards Malbec (Argentina), or downed Design to Dine's amazingly delicious spiked grapefruit and pear concoctions while nibbling at their even more devilish handmade fruit jellies, everyone seemingly keeping one eye peeled for the variety of yummy hors d'oeuvres making rounds via cheery serving staff. A stunning DJ played contemporary chill at one end of the room, this projecting out across the entire space for all to enjoy, while live performers jammed under headphones on the other side (we were invited to join them by donning a pair of headphones ourselves), this the "Sound. Unique. Customizable. Beats." portion of the all-senses affair that also included signage tempting us to "Taste. Indulge Your Palate." and "Smell. A Fragrance To Remember." in front of aforementioned displays. Tactility was best experienced from the two masseurs literally on hand, an eager crowd milling around in hopes of being next to have neck and shoulders massaged.

Audi event covered all senses with the SQ5 most visually compelling

The visual "Sight." element was obviously kept to the grand finale when the new Q5 was dramatically unveiled by whisking off a red satin covering, and then appropriately fawned over by attendees. Finished in black, that nicely contrasted the new model's bold satin-silver finished grille surround and other aluminized trim detail, the 2018 model actually debuted in the model's most potent SQ5 guise. It's the final Audi SUV to adapt the Ingolstadt, Germany-based luxury brand's new design language, and by the response of those oohing and ahing over the new model it was easy to see it's been more than just universally accepted.

Along with the dramatic new sheetmetal, the new Q5 rides on a version of Volkswagen Group's new MLB platform, replete with lightweight high-strength steel and aluminum. Yet more aluminum gets used in the powertrain and advanced fully independent suspension, while its body shell includes an aluminum hood, liftgate and more. This helps reduce the new Q5's curb weight by 125 kilos (200 lbs) over the outgoing model, despite having a larger footprint overall.

Q5's generous standard features list even makes the base model alluring

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, satin-silver finished roof rails, interior ambient lighting, an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, selectable drive modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch infotainment display, 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, heatable front seats, leather upholstery, a powered liftgate, ultra-convenient 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and much more.

Notable options include a bevy of larger alloy wheels, active cornering full LED headlamps with unique signature accents, proximity-sensing access and a gesture controlled liftgate, power-folding side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, Audi's class-leading 12.3-inch TFT reconfigurable instrument cluster, impressive high-resolution infotainment with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, a 360-degree surround parking camera, Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound, parking sensors, heated and cooled cupholders, driver's seat memory, heatable rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, Audi connect telematics, configurable LED mood lighting, and more. Auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, emergency autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist, blindspot monitoring, and other active safety features are also available, making the new Q5 one of the safest family haulers in the compact luxury SUV segment.

Standard power is strong for the compact luxury SUV class

Like other Audi models the Q5 is available in Komfort, Progressiv, and Technik trims, all of which come powered by the brand's highly efficient 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine capable of 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission featuring auto start/stop and other fuel-saving technologies, and boasts new Quattro Ultra all-wheel drive for all-weather performance and security.

Quattro Ultra alleviates the old Quattro system's centre differential in place of two clutch packs that disengage the rear driving wheels when not required in order to reduce fuel usage. This allows the new Q5 a five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating of just 10.7 L/100km in the city compared to 12.0 in the old model, while highway consumption only increases from 8.6 L/100km to 9.0; a reasonable tradeoff considering most of our driving is done in town.

SQ5 a dominant force in this family friendly segment

The SQ5 3.0 TFSI Quattro on display boasts a 3.0-litre V6 pushing 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters, for a 5.3-second sprint to 100km/h and a top speed of 250 km/h. A standard sport suspension supports twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloys on 255/45 performance tires, these framing a fast reacting sport braking system. Other standard details include full LED headlamps, diamond-quilted leather and suede-like Alcantara upholstery, plus most of the features found in the lesser Q5's second-tier Progressiv trim that comes standard with the SQ5. The SQ5 also offers top-line Technik trim.

The new 2018 Audi Q5 is available from just $44,950 plus freight and dealer fees, whereas the 2018 SQ5 starts at just $61,300. Contact Audi Downtown Vancouver at (604) 733-5887 or drop by their facility Burrard and 2nd Avenue facility to take a closer look. They may not have bands playing, artists painting, masseurs massaging, and hors d'oeuvres being served when you arrive, but their staff is welcoming, the building is spectacular, and their coffee is very good. Of course, the new Q5 is worth the visit alone.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.