Since its launch in 2009, the Q5 has always lived in the shadow of the Q7. Despite being substantially cheaper it never managed to outsell its big brother. So the mild facelift and fine tweaks will give it a tiny but much needed shot in the arm.
To start off with the visual changes you need a spy’s attention to spot the minor differences in the new Q5 over the old one. The changes lie with a grille that now takes Audi’s new hexagonal shape and its detailing that differ depending on what engine is 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. Thanks to the wide stance and high bonnet, the Q5 looks quite brawny.
There are some subtle changes to the interiors too and the cabin now looks even richer than the old version. The Q5 is offered with the same range of engines as before, but Audi has increased their power output and also claim that the Q5 is 15% more fuel efficient than before. We drove the 3.0 litre diesel and the 2.0 litre petrol extensively to see what it’s like.
The 3.0litre diesel Q5 was always our favourite and now with even more power it has become even better. At the heart of it all is the 3.0-litre, V6 diesel with common-rail diesel 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 car. As a result the V6 turbo-diesel propels this 1.8tonne beast to 100kph in 6.5seconds flat. 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.
The 2.0 TFSI turbo petrol on the other hand is a much tamer beast. But still it has more than enough grunt on hand. The lusty mid-range and strong top-end holds the key to the 2.0TFSI’s terrific performance. This turbo-petrol isn’t going to wind to dizzy revs like a naturally aspirated engines do but it is smooth all the way to the 6500rpm limit.
There’s a throaty snarl that’s clearly audible when you wind 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 midrange 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 7.8seconds to reach 100kph.
The biggest surprise in the improved Q5 is the far more pliant ride. Gone is the fidgety ride of the old car and the now it feels much more supple and bump absorption is first rate. The softer spring rates and damper settings means the Q5 glides over most surfaces without much fuss and gives it the all important luxury ride it always deserved.
Despite its size and weight, the Q5 is a fairly decent thing to punt 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, which gives the Q5 a nice handling balance in brisk driving. Except for the base Premium variant all other Q5s get adjustable dampers and if you set it to Dynamic mode, it’ll surprise you with its agility. Body movements are well controlled, and it grips willingly and steers accurately.
There are three variants on offer in the Q5 (Premium, Premium plus and Navi). Prices for the Base petrol start at 43.17 lakh and the 3.0litre diesel is priced at a hefty Rs 48.71 lakh. (ex-showroom, Delhi).. With the Q5’s tempting price and the overall improvements, Audi has certainly raised their game – enough to give even the impressive BMW X3 some cause for worry.