Audi enhances the Q5’s appeal with a tempting price and overall improvement

Audi’s Q5, since its launch in 2009, has done remarkably well. Although the elder sibling the Q7, had the lion’s share of attention initially, the Q5 has gone on to become the segment leader. And now, Audi has given it a facelift and carried out some other tweaks as well.

The styling changes are very subtle and it’s only upon close inspection that you’ll be able to tell the differences between the new and old Q5. There’s the grille, which now takes Audi’s new hexagonal shape, with different detailing depending on the engine under the hood. The headlights get new daytime running lamps, the bumper is new and the fog lights have chrome ring surrounds. At the rear, the tail-lamps get different LEDs and there’s a new rear diffuser. These tweaks, along with the wide stance and high bonnet, make the Q5 look quite brawny. There are subtle changes to the interiors too, which make the cabin look plusher than the older version.

The Q5 is offered with the same range of engines as before, but Audi has increased their power outputs and also claims that the Q5 is now 15 per cent more fuel efficient. We drove the 3.0-litre diesel and the 2.0-litre petrol extensively to see for ourselves.

The Q5 3.0 TDI has always been a favourite, and now, with more power, it has become even better. At the heart of it all is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel, with common-rail direct injection and a variable-vane turbo that makes 245bhp and 59kgm of twisting force. That’s 5bhp and a massive 8kgm more than the old version. As a result, the motor propels this 1.8-tonne beast to 100kph in 6.54 seconds flat — that’s a second quicker now. But the kick in the kidneys every time you floor the delightfully sprung, floor-pivoted throttle pedal makes the Q5 feel even faster than the figures suggest. This is a shockingly quick car, whisking you to ludicrous speeds from as little as 1200rpm in one hard, linear shove.

Like most diesels, the action is concentrated in the lower reaches of the powerband. And unlike high-performance petrol motors which rev and then rev some more, this diesel ends play after 4500rpm. With so few revs to play with, all the gears are in constant use, and that’s where the potent seven-speed dual-clutch auto ’box comes in. In Sport mode, it hangs on to revs longer, kicks down faster and, in short, does almost everything a manual can with the ease only automatics can offer. Although an engine like this, blessed with such masses of torque, can make any auto box look good.

Engine performance

The 2.0 TFSI turbo-petrol, on the other hand, is a much tamer beast, but still has more than enough grunt on hand. The lusty mid-range and strong top end hold the key to the 2.0 TFSI’s performance. This turbo-petrol isn’t going to spin to dizzy revs like naturally aspirated engines do, but it is smooth all the way to its 6500rpm limit.

There’s a throaty snarl that’s clearly audible when you wind up the motor. Using tiptronic shifts allows you to really carry on at a quick pace and the gearbox offers you the right gear at all times. The key advantage of this eight-speed torque-converter gearbox is that it can put you in the strongest part of the powerband in a flash. Stay in the punchy mid-range with the turbo spinning past 3000rpm and you get a nice thrust of power. This translates into impressive performance figures, with the Q5 petrol taking 7.76 seconds to reach 100kph.

One of the improvements that stand out is the new Q5’s far more pliant ride. Gone is the fidgety ride of the old car, now replaced by a more supple one. The softer spring rates and damper settings mean the Q5 glides over most surfaces without much fuss, giving it the all-important luxury ride its customers always deserved.

Despite its size and weight, the Q5 is fairly decent when punting around corners. The steering is typically Audi — light and effortless, but devoid of feel. The Quattro set-up is biased towards road driving, and under normal driving conditions, power is split 40:60, front to rear. This results in nice, balanced handling in brisk driving. Except for the base Premium variant, all other Q5s get adjustable dampers. In Dynamic mode, the agility is surprisingly good. Body movements are well-controlled and the Q5 grips willingly and steers accurately. The only features the car has for off-roading are hill descent control and an off-road ESP setting, along with the decent ground clearance. Considering that some Q5 owners would want to head out into the wild, the car does have some extra technology to handle such situations.

The updated Q5 is available in three variants — Premium, Premium Plus and Navi. Prices for the base petrol start at Rs. 43.17 lakh and the 3.0-litre diesel comes for Rs. 48.71 lakh. Audi has made the Q5 a lot more appealing, with a tempting price and overall improvements.

Price Rs. 43.17 lakh, 48.71lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

L/W/H 4629/1880/1653mm

Wheelbase 2807mm

Engine 1984cc, 4-cyls in-line turbo-petrol, 2967cc, V6 turbo-diesel

Layout Front, longitudinal, AWD

Power 221bhp at 4500-6200rpm, 245bhp at 4000-4500rpm

Torque 35.6kgm 1750-4500rpm, 59kgm at 1400-3250rpm

Gearbox 8-spd auto, 7-spd dual-clutch auto