Audi Q5 long-term test review

The previous Audi Q5 was a stalwart among premium family SUVs, so can this new model move the game on even further?...

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Darren Moss
16 November 2017

Audi Q5 long-term test review
  • The car Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro 190 S line S tronic
  • Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor,
  • Why it’s here The previous Q5 was Audi’s best-selling model worldwide, so this new version needs to be even better in every respect, while holding off increasingly competent rivals.
  • Needs to Be all things to all people – economical and comfortable over long and short journeys, with enough space inside to take a full load of passengers luggage.

Price£41,085 Price as tested£45,050 Miles covered8062 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 41.8mpg Options fitted Technology Pack (£1395), Floret Silver paint (£645), advanced key with hands-free boot opening (£525), rear-view camera (£450), rear bench seat (£350), Audi Virtual Cockpit (£250), Storage Pack (£175), flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel (£100), hill hold assist (£75), sport suspension (free)

16 November 2017 – saying goodbye to the Audi Q5

The gulp from Audi’s engineers when they were tasked with making the second-generation Q5 SUV must have been audible. Here was a car that had risen to become Audi’s best-selling model worldwide – and one that had improved with age. We weren’t huge fans of the original Q5 when it was launched in 2008, but by the time it went off sale earlier this year, incremental improvements meant we’d grown to like it.

Audi needn’t have worried, though, because when the motoring press got to drive the new Q5 back in the spring, the five-star verdicts came rolling in. I was excited at the prospect of running one for six months, so much so that when the car arrived at the Lombardyexperience? offices, I snuck into the car park to have a little sit inside it at lunchtime before driving home later that evening, setting up the driving position and infotainment just so. And I remember looking at all of its new tech – the Virtual Cockpit technology borrowed from the larger Q7 but which now features across much of the Audi range, and the centre console touchpad and gear selector set-up from the A4 saloon – and wondering how well it would all work in practice, or if it would just end up being distracting.

It took time to find my perfect set-up. Initially I went everywhere with the full map displayed on the Virtual Cockpit screen, but the novelty (and constant motion) of the display eventually became annoying. The perfect combo, I’ve found, is to have the big digital speedometer on the instrument cluster screen and leave the sat-nav to the smaller 8.3in screen, except on long journeys, when the smaller screen is given over to Apple CarPlay. We’ve explored the capabilities of Audi’s MMI infotainment system before, but suffice to say it’s clever and connected enough to be easy to use most of the time, even if it doesn’t offer the same graphical slickness as BMW’s iDrive.

Things haven’t been entirely rosy, though. Our car came with S line sports suspension, which delivers a firmer ride than we’d like, especially on urban streets. It’s a no-cost option, but we’d stick with the more comfortable standard set-up for everyday use. And while its light steering makes the Q5 easy to place on the road and easy to park, it weights up inconsistently as you go faster and doesn’t provide much feedback. For keener drivers, then, the Jaguar F-Pace will be more rewarding.

Audi Q5 long-term test review

There were also moments when the Q5 truly shone, such as when it was loaded with friends, luggage and costumes for a 600-mile round trip down to Cornwall for a week’s am-dram run. Or when it helped to move the entire Lombardyexperience? archive out of storage and into our offices. And even day to day, whether on my urban commute or visiting friends and relatives on longer motorway runs, the Q5 proved to be a capable and comfortable companion.

Of course, some of that comfort is helped by the extra features that S-line specification brings, such as part-leather seats and LED headlights. For my money, though, I’d opt for our recommended Sport trim, which still gets you most of the toys you’re going to want. And, as we head into winter, it’s good to note that heated front seats are standard even on SE models.

The question of whether to go for a diesel Q5 is perhaps more important now than ever, given the bad press diesel engines have at the moment. For someone like me, who mostly drives in town with only occasional motorway trips, I’d be willing to sacrifice the low-down pull of our diesel engine for friendlier emissions – even if it leads to a significant drop in fuel economy, as we found when we tried the 2.0-litre petrol Q5 earlier this year.

There’s little getting around the Q5’s pricing; it remains more expensive than the equivalent BMW X3, although not by as huge a margin as you might expect. Buy on a PCP finance deal, as the majority of people will, and you’ll find that the Q5 actually makes a very competitive case for itself.

In my introductory report for the Q5, I asked whether it might replace the BMW 5 Series Touring as my stock answer to the “you can have one car to survive the inevitable apocalypse” question motoring journalists sometimes get asked in pubs. Well, after six months of thought, I’d choose the Q5. It is all things to all people, a jack of all trades that never let me down and never failed to impress. If the end of the world arrives tomorrow, I know what I’m driving.

Audi Q5 – test data

Dealer price now £38,625Private price now £33,990Trade-in price now £35,741Test economy 41.8mpgTrue MPG 41.0mpgOfficial average 55.4mpgContract hire £413.70Cost per mile 10.3p Total running cost £844.04 fuelInsurance group 28Typical insurance quote £768

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