The Audi Q5, after having created a global success story for the Ingolstadt based premium brand, with close to half a million units sold worldwide, presents itself in a substantially upgraded form in its 2013 avatar. With changes made to its engines, exterior, interior and suspension, the 2013 Q5 has evolved to take on the rivals in the middleweight premium SUV segment with authority. We got our hands behind the wheel of the 2.0 TFSI petrol powered unit of the car recently, and came back impressed with the utter refinement that this machine exudes in every department. Here’s our first review of this big-selling Audi.
The 2013 Audi Q5 is a mid-life upgrade for the original Q5, before it gets completely replaced by a new generation model in a couple of years. Audi have kept the changes subtle, but some of them really lift the premium feel of the car substantially. The LED strips of daytime running lights on the xenon plus headlamps now add a distinct character to the Q5’s face. The Tail-lamps too, with their array of LEDs look beautiful when lit.
The radiator grille now adorns Audi’s new hexagonal shape, with small angular cuts on the top edges. The vertical chrome slats within the grille and the Audi emblem too are revised. Bumper, both front and rear, fog lamps, and the shape of the air intakes are all new.
The Q5 continues to carry forward the understated brawny aura of its forebear, with a bit more panache and flair. The changes as compared with the previous version are small, but when you notice them you really appreciate them.
Engine and transmission
The engineering wizards at Audi have been pulling out one rabbit after another from their hats. The engines on the cars with four interlinked rings on their grilles are evolving at a dramatic pace. Audi has taken the engine technology a notch above with the new gen Q5, with fuel efficiency having been increased by upto 15 percent, even with an increment in power output figures.
The 2.0 TFSI unit powering our test car dished out 225bhp in a range of 4500-6200 rpm, a good 14bhp more than the previous unit. The highlight here is the 350Nm of torque in a range of 1500-4500rpm, highlighting the technological superiority of this engine. Combining direct fuel injection with turbo charging, the TFSI unit delivers exceptionally good volumetric efficiency along with fantastic refinement. The all-new engine now employs new technologies as regards control of inlet and exhaust valves, thermal management and fuel injection. Extremely smooth and very fuel efficient, the engine thoroughly impressed us with its capabilities.
Apart from the 2.0 TFSI petrol, the 2013 Q5 is also available with 2.0 TDI and 3.0 TDI diesel mills. The smaller engine pumps out 170bhp / 350Nm while the bigger three liter power plant is capable of 245bhp of peak power and 580Nm of torque.
Doing the transmission duties on the 2.0 TFSI unit is an eight speed Tiptropnic auto box which employs a hydraulic torque converter. Although not as high up in the technology ladder as its dual-clutch S-tronic cousin, the Tiptronic on the test Q5 was surprisingly quick in the auto mode. Never did we feel any real need for a better transmission while driving on the expressway. The kickdowns are not as urgent as the S-tronic, with the manual mode also showing a very mild lag, but this transmission worked shockingly well for a conventional auto. For all real-world driving, including some spirited sprints the Tiptronic on the 2.0 TFSI Q5 is more than sufficient. The S-tronic option is available only on the 2.0 and 3.0 TDI variants as of now.
Power is laid down to the tar with the Quattro all wheel drive system with a 40:60 front:rear drive split. The Quattro AWD is one of the best systems around to juggle power between four wheels and it shows in the Q5’s composure around bends, but more on that later.
With 225 horses on tap, the 2.0 TFSI mill makes the Q5 sprint away to the 100km/h mark in a little more than 7 seconds. The generous torque from lower down the rev range ensures that the Q5 can coast at revs as low as 1000 rpm at speeds above 100 km/h, delivering fantastic fuel efficiency. Thanks to all that low end grunt, the in-gear acceleration is fantastic and overtaking is the least of the worries. Power is delivered in the creamiest, silkiest fashion and there is no reluctance whatsoever from the 2.0 liter turbo engine to rev up. At low revs there is hardly any noise audible; however, as you cross 4000 rpm, the engine emanates a muffled melody, loud only enough to excite the eager, without being intrusive or inconvenient for the occupants.
There are as many as five drive modes to select from – Efficiency / Comfort / Dynamic / Auto / Individual. In efficiency mode, the engine gives up any intent to downshift whatsoever, and upshifts at the first chance it gets. We managed to witness the car running at 1000 rpm in eighth gear at sub-100 km/h speeds. We drove a good 50km in the efficiency mode, with the on-board computer showing a drop of only 20km in the car’s distance to dry range.
Comfort mode is slightly more yielding as regards downshifts. It maintains relatively light setting for the steering and soft setting for the suspension, and is ideal for weaving through the congested city streets or driving on open highways.
Auto mode adjusts the settings based on a variety of parameters, including vehicle speed, driving style and road surface. Dynamic mode stiffens the suspension and steering and makes the rev needle climb up much higher. Downshifts are far more urgent too.
Individual mode lets the users pick and choose their desired mode from Comfort/ Efficiency/ Dynamic for steering, transmission and suspension. For example, you may want the suspension and transmission to be tuned for comfort mode, but desire more feedback from the steering – so you can choose Comfort setting for suspension and transmission, and Dynamic setting for steering, and so forth.
The 2.0 TFSI motor may not be an absolute scorcher like the bigger 3.0 TDI mill, but with its rated top whack of 220+ km/h, it’s more than a handful for Indian roads.
Ride and handling
The new Q5 represents a great step forward as regards suspension abilities. The in-cabin refinement, thanks to the super smooth engine and great noise insulation is further complemented by a superbly absorbent ride. In comfort mode, the Q5 exhibits exceptional composure over bad roads, even at low to medium speeds, with only the really sharp undulations managing to filter in. The ride gets relatively stiffer in Dynamic mode, but even there it isn’t uncomfortable at all.
The steering wheel, especially in Comfort mode is incredibly light and smooth to operate. Maneuvering the Q5 through congested spaces is an absolute breeze. The steering tightens as the speed increases, but in Comfort mode it still remains on the lighter side. Comfort and convenience tops the Q5’s jobs-to-do list, and it excels in the way it just breezes on the highway, disposing hundreds of miles without bringing any fatigue to the driver. The soft suspension and relatively light steering in the Comfort mode, however reduces the engaging feel for the enthusiast.
Put the car in Dynamic mode and the Q5 gets a mild shot of testosterone. Steering weighs up substantially, suspension feels stiffer and the transmission gets a lot more aggressive. The Q5 exhibits good composure around corners. It feels a little softer as compared to the behavior of some of the more driver oriented premium sedans, but is still dynamically more composed than most SUVs. When chucked hard around corners, the Q5 does feel mildly squishy, but doesn’t ever feel perturbed. The Quattro system constantly transfers drive force to various wheels to make the Q5 hold its line exceptionally well. Thanks to such judicious distribution of traction, the grippy Bridgestones refuse to squeal even when pushed close to the limit. Impressive, for we have seen lower profile Michelins carrying a much higher price tag wail for mercy at lower speeds on some RWD cars.
The steering feel in the Dynamic mode, though heavy, doesn’t feel natural. The overboost appears forced to the palms. Though dependable and assertive, thanks to an utterly absorbent suspension and higher profile wheels the steering doesn’t quite offer a completely connected and neutral feel.
Cabin quality, comfort and features
Finished in grey, black and beige, the cabin of the Q5 is typically Audi – high quality and feature rich. Apart from the primary colors, there are plenty of aluminum and chrome inserts to add a highlight. Walnut finish inserts on the dash and high-gloss black inserts on the door panels adds a dash of class. Customers can choose from a variety of interior to suite their taste.
The driver biased center console features an MMI display unit with controls on the central floating panel. Apart from offering an interface to choose the driving mode, the interface also lets you handle Bluetooth connectivity with phone, audio functions, navigation, radio and the general health of your car.
Front seats are very comfortable and have a 4 way lumbar support adjustment for the passenger as well. Central armrest offers good space underneath to store objects. At the back, the seats are adjustable for support angle. The back seats are generally quite comfortable, but we could have asked for a bit more thigh support. Also, the rear blower, along with the tapered central portion of the rear seat means that only two occupants can properly enjoy the luxury of this SUV.
Boot size is cavernous with a capacity of 540 liters. The rear seats can be folded flat very conveniently to increase the available boot size to a massive 1560 liters. Both front and rear doors have space for 1-liter water bottles, and there are plenty of places within the cabin to store odds and ends.
An electric sunroof, reverse parking camera, powerful Xenon Plus automatic headlamps with washer function, rain sensing wipers, electronic parking brake, Hill hold, Hill descent control, Full time 4WD, six airbags, Cruise Control, 3 zone automatic air conditioning, energy recuperation, sunblinds, six airbags, Electronic Stability Control and loads more – the Q5 doesn’t fall short when it comes to features. Check out the images below for a better and more detailed visual representation.
Front and rear door panels have space for full sized bottles
The Unique Vredestein Space Master spare is a unique, folding spare tyre which can be inflated in just a few minutes into a fully functional tyre. The Space Master offers significant weight and space savings in comparison with a conventional spare tyre.
The lever in the boot to drop the fold-flat back seats
Boot space with both seats dropped down
Once dropped, the seats latch on to the floor. This lever is used to release them
Headlights come with Power Wash function for optimum illumination in rainy weather, when the headlights tend to get mucky very soon
You select your preferred drive mode via the MMI interface, or directly via this button on the center console
Central arm-rest offers ample space underneath.
Various information displays on the central screen on the instrument cluster
Drive select via MMI
The Q5 is an epitome of understated brilliance. The refined engine, the all absorbing suspension, the insulated interior and the comfortable interiors make it a very practical machine for the Indian roads. For those looking for a genuinely premium SUV with comfort and convenience high on their priority list, the Q5 makes an extremely strong case for itself.
The Q5 is an all-rounder which delivers on almost every count. Priced from Rs 44 lakh ex-showroom for the TFSI motor variant, the Q5 represents good value as compared with its key competitors. If you’re not an out-and-out driving enthusiast, and are looking for a well rounded package in the sub-50 lakh bracket, the Q5 has to be one of the top options on your list.
Price as tested: Rs 43.2 lakh (2.0 TFSI), Rs 48.7lakh (3.0 TDI)
Engine 1984 cc, 4-cyls turbo petrol, in-line
Power 221bhp @ 4500-6200rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1750-4500rpm
Gearbox Eight-speed auto Tiptronic
Drive All wheel Quattro
Tyres Front and rear 235/65R17