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Audi gives its Q5 an upgrade

Now in a happy second position in the luxury car market in India, the German company has responded to market leader BMW's new X3. Sumant Banerji writes.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2013 12:33 IST
Sumant Banerji

Everybody it seems, is buying an Audi these days. The Germans buy it for nationalistic while the rest of Europe for continental reasons. The Chinese buy it because they have seen their bureaucrats being driven in it. The Japanese prefer it because they like the rings of the Audi, while Brazil is in love with its LEDs. And the Indians are buying it because Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan and John Abraham are also driving it. The mainstay for the company in India however, remains the Q series of SUVs, among which the Q5 is the bread and butter model. It got some whiff of competition when BMW updated its laggard X3. Audi responded, and here is how.

Genteel giant
There is nothing menacing about the car when you first set your eyes on it. It looks soft and suave in a way that does not give away its large dimensions. The changes from its earlier avatar include a restructured front grille and minor changes in the bumper, air inlets and front fog lamps. LEDs as a design were pioneered by Audi and Q5 gets a continuous strip of LED daytime running lights to accentuate it further.

Q for Quality, Q for Quattro
Audi's patented four-wheel drive system Quattro is at the heart of all its Q cars. That is not to say it isn't there in the sedans, but it is the SUVs that really do justice to an all-wheel powertrain. So the Q does give an edge to the company over its competitors when it comes to making SUVs. Offered in three engine options--2 litre petrol and diesel, and a top-of-the-line 3-litre diesel - there is something for everybody. Those seeking refinement, the petrol shall pamper. For those opting for the diesel grunt the 2 litre diesel is the perfect middle of the road option. And for the enthusiast, the 3-litre diesel is a benchmark. All the power flows through 8 speed automatic gearbox for petrol and one gear less for the diesels.

Having said that, the Q5 is not your heavy duty true blue off roader that can win a Dakar rally. Has never been. It is your normal city car that offers top drawer quality and ride and handling, with capabilities to answer the call of the wild once in a while.

The perfect blend?
An oxymoron, you might say. But that is what innovation is about. Without changing the contours of the engine much, the new Q5 gets more powerful and more economical at the same time. So the 2-litre petrol is 20% more fuel efficient, the diesel improves by 10% to a class leading 14.6 kmpl and the bigger diesel engine would cover 6% more land for the same fuel.

Need more? Maps are on offer, choice of interior colors and more boot space. What is lacking? A touch screen still eludes. Maybe they are holding it up for the next model change.