It seems I owe the Audi Q5 an apology…up until approximately 10 minutes ago I thought it was based on the same underpinnings as the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Yeti, a reasonable assumption seeing as those cars were released around the same time and are a similar size. Had this been the case I was going to start this blog post with a rant about how it and it’s Porsche Macan sister car were just over-inflated Golfs, albeit with an undeniable appeal even for me, but instead I should really credit the Audi with being based on a platform which is shared with everything from it’s A4 right through to the A8…a true crossover indeed!
However even disregarding this recent discovery I have developed quite a strong desire for Audi’s mid size SUV over the last few months – so much so that I might even consider one if prices miraculously drop a few grand in the next month or two! That’s pretty unlikely though, because the Q5 has some of the best residual values in the used car market even when compared to rivals like the BMW X3 and Lexus RX…in fact the only the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Evoque seem to come close in terms of value retained. Part of this is because Audis are currently en vogue, but going by a few people at work who have owned them they also seem like pretty good cars too!
The Q5’s looks likely play a big part in it’s popularity as it manages to look slightly menacing whilst retaining a classy and understated aura…similar to most Audis actually in all honesty but maybe the Q5 looks a bit more family-friendly than the likes of the massive Q7 and svelte A6 Allroad. I was not initially a big fan of it’s looks though, with the relatively stubby rear end taking some getting used to (and probably the reason why I thought it related to the awkwardly styled Tiguan), and the headlights don’t seem to ‘flow’ quite as well as they could have done up front, although the 2012 facelift fixed this slightly. The LED headlamps are cool though, and familiarity with the car as well as the attractive S Line styling details mean that I have been won over.
It’s inside though where the Q5 really comes into it’s own; the MMI system always had an early advantage over iDrive and COMAND in terms of usuability, and whilst the gap has lessened in recent years Audi have managed to pull a blinder by offering Google Maps integration into their navigation (or at least they have in their very latest versions). All of this is wrapped in an interior which is pretty much class leading in terms of ergonomics and quality – interiors have long been one of Audi’s strengths and the Q5 continues this tradition, although it is pretty much the same as the A4 in most ways. Practicality is a strong point too, as the Q5 seats 5 comfortably and has a decent boot space to erm…boot. I guess it is a pretty large vehicle so this is not surprising, but as a mid sized entry in the market it is probably comparable with the first generation BMW X5 in a lot of ways (as is the second generation X3 which has grown slightly too).
However where the Q5 probably shows itself as most car-like is on the roads, both in terms of how the car drives and the engine choices under the bonnet. As with most Audis the Q5 has a FWD bias but the majority of vehicles come with the added bonus of the Quattro system, which gives it a safe if not thrilling overall feel to it…although the cars with Audi Drive Select probably do allow for a little more in the way of driving pleasure. Under the bonnet there are several choices shared with most of VAG’s line up; a 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder petrol engines with several iterations of 2.0L turbodiesel, plus a 3.2L V6 petrol and 3.0L V6 diesel which ups the pace a bit. Transmission wise Audi offer a 6 speed manual as standard in the smaller engined cars, with a 7/8 speed automatics available as an option, with the larger engines receiving a 7 speed unit as standard. For those with deeper pockets Audi offer an SQ5 which supposedly slots in alongside their ‘S’ lineup of vehicles; in Europe this is powered by an uprated version of the V6 diesel with an 8 Speed automatic, but elsewhere the car gets a 3.0L V6 petrol unit good for 350bhp with the same gearbox.
Where the Q5 really comes into it’s own is in terms of running costs when compared to vehicles from the next class up. Officially the cars should return between 42 and 37 mpg with a diesel engine, petrol engines are very rare and return a comparatively low 33mpg but given the abundance of diesel models it seems unlikely that any used buyers would choose the petrol. These low running costs means it would be a much more sensible decision to choose something like the Q5 over a car from the next class up, but the popularity and relative newness of this class of vehicle mean that prices are still really high. The least anyone can buy a Q5 for is £15k, which will be a relatively high mileage 2009 car with manual gearbox, cloth seats and poverty spec wheels. Automatic versions start at closer to £17k and anything with an S Line badge is around £19k minimum…that’s a lot of money and far out of reach even if I pool all of my money!