By Jonathan Crouch
Audi's understated Q5 continued its subtle conquest of the premium mid-sized SUV sector in this second generation 'Type 80A' form. This MK2 model is lighter and more likeable than its predecessor, with a more sensible quattro system, loads of advanced technology and a beautifully practical interior crafted in Audi's own inimitable style. In short, if you can afford it, you'd like one.
5dr SEV (2.0 TFSI, 2.0 TFSIe, 3.0 TFSI petrol / 2.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI) [S line, Black Edition,Vorsprung, SQ5])
For some time, Audi has effectively owned the premium part of the mid-sized SUV segment with their Q5 model. At launch in 2016 though, this second generation version faced a much tougher task in maintaining that sales superiority, though was well prepared for the challenge.
Just as its predecessor was. That model, originally introduced back in 2008, established a benchmark for cars of this kind and eventually found over 1.6 million global customers, with sales continuing to grow throughout its eight year production run, especially in markets like China, who now buy more Q5s than the whole of Europe and the US combined. To keep pace with this kind of demand, Audi had to do more than just re-design this model second time around: it also had to create an entirely new production plant to build it - in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico.
The lower production costs of this facility were an important factor in enabling Audi to keep this car competitive in a market sector now demanding Luxury segment technology at Executive segment prices. In facing a growing sector of premium competitors, Audi sent this Q5 to the fitness studio and it returned leaner, tauter and more athletic, having shed over 90kgs in comparison with its predecessor, despite the fact that this MK2 model is slightly bigger. Even more significantly, this car got a completely new on-demand 'quattro with ultra technology' 4WD system that was quite a bit more efficient than the old permanently- activated set-up. And this design was based around the much more sophisticated 'MLB Evo' platform that by 2016, had already done wonders for Audi's larger Q7 SUV.
Add to that a classier cabin, stronger safety standards and hi-tech media connectivity and it was clear from the moment this model was launched that there was plenty of plenty of potential here. This MK2 Q5 sold in its original form until mid-2020 when it was facelifted; it's the original 2016-2020 models we look at here.
What You Get
If at first glance, you're tempted to conclude that this second generation Q5 is merely a mild evolution of its predecessor, we'd understand. And then we'd ask you to look again. This MK2 model is significantly longer than its predecessor and slightly taller too. Perhaps more importantly, it's a leaner, tauter, more sophisticated-looking thing - an SUV with a sense of purpose.
Getting into the front seat is predictably easy, thanks to the raised ride height you get in this kind of SUV and once inside, what's delivered up is a masterclass in interior quality and ergonomics. The cabin's larger than that of the MK1 model too: Audi claimed this Q5 to be class-leading in terms of shoulder width and elbow room and you'll absolutely feel that, especially if you come to this car familiar with its predecessor.
Anything you can't see through the steering wheel will almost certainly be covered by the slimline MMI infotainment display that dominates the top of the dashboard. A little disappointingly, it doesn't rise out of the fascia in the way the screen does on a cheaper Audi A3 from this period, but in compensation, the thin tablet-style display is now touch-sensitive with neat 'pinch and swipe' functionality and comes presented in a classy silver-coloured magnesium frame. As standard, it comes in a 7-inch size and includes the useful 'Audi smartphone interface', with 'Apple Car Play' and 'Android Auto' smartphone connectivity.
As for the rear seat, well in your perusal of used MK2 Q5s, you should insist on finding the option every second generation Q5 should have come with: what Audi calls its 'Rear bench seat plus' feature. This lets you slide the base back and forth by 12cms to increase either legroom or luggage space and also alter the backrest angle through three stages for greater long distance comfort.
The boot is accessed via a standard powered tailgate, the rising height of which can be tailored to suit your garage ceiling. Plus you can operate it with a wave of your foot beneath the bumper if you've a car whose original owner opted for the extra cost 'Advanced Key' package. Thanks to this second generation model's 34mm of extra body length, it was possible for Audi to increase carriage capacity by 10-litres this time round, so a 550-litre space is on offer. Completely flattening the rear bench frees up 1,550-litres of total storage space.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most owners in our survey seemed happy. The most reported faults related to problems with the alarm system and the central locking. And issues with rattly interior trim and non-engine electricals. Look out for bodywork scrapes and kerb damage to larger-spec alloy wheels. There were a few issues with the car's infotainment system, with phones not connecting properly and flickering screens being the main problem. The DSG automatic gearbox should be checked to make sure it's had a regular oil and filter change, as should the quattro four-wheel-drive system. Many Q5s will have been company or lease cars and, as a result, you should check the condition of the bodywork carefully. The high-quality fit and finish of a Q5 also makes it an ideal candidate for clocking, so ensure the history is absolutely verified.
(approx based on a 2016 Q5 2.0 TDI 190PS - Ex Vat) An air filter costs in the £25 bracket. An oil filter costs in the £7-£11 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £16 to £37 bracket for a set; for a rear set, it's in the £78 bracket. Front brake discs sit in the £53-£130 bracket; for a rear pair, you're looking at the £98-£152 bracket. A thermostat costs around £12 and a water pump is around £102. A radiator is around £150. And a headlamp is in the £482 bracket.
On the Road
So what's this Q5 like on the move? There is after all, plenty that's different here over the previous 'Typ 8R' model: the new 'MLB Evo' platform underpinning fresh petrol engines, a revised range of transmissions and fresh semi-autonomous driving technology. There was also a completely different 'on-demand' 'quattro with ultra technology' 4WD set-up for most models and, for those original buyers wanting it, even an optional air suspension system that does wonders for this car's off road ability. Even ordinary models get an extra 'offroad' setting in the standard 'drive select' vehicle dynamics system that improves their 'off piste' prowess. In short, don't be deceived by the mildly-evolved looks into believing that things here are much the same as they were in the previous generation model. The lighter chassis certainly makes the car feel a little more agile through the corners, though to some extent, the dynamic improvements are somewhat masked by the same rather vague level of steering feel that characterised the old MK1 design.
Engine-wise, most will choose one of the four cylinder variants - probably the efficient 190PS 2.0 TDI diesel, which manages 56.5mpg on the combined cycle and 132g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures). It transmits torque to the tarmac via a standard 7-speed S tronic auto gearbox mated to that 'on-demand' 'quattro ultra' 4WD set-up, as does the alternative four cylinder model, a 252PS 2.0 TFSI petrol variant. The prodigious power of the V6 derivatives requires a different approach. For these, Audi stuck with the previous permanent quattro system and paired it with a beefier 8-speed tiptronic auto gearbox. Here, there are two 3.0-litre options, a 286PS 3.0 TDI diesel or a 354PS 3.0 TFSI petrol unit, the latter powerplant reserved for the potent flagship SQ5 model. That SQ5 swapped to a 3.0 TDI diesel in 2018. A 2.0 TFSIe plug-in hybrid model was introduced in late 2019.
The Q5 has always been a top seller on merit. Nothing's changed here. It's simply very good at almost everything. If you want the ultimate driver's car or the ultimate off roader in this sector, well no, this isn't it. But is this the best all-rounder in the class? Many would say so. There are many reasons why. Cabin quality that set a fresh segment standard. Sharp looks. Meticulous build quality. Unbeaten efficiency readings. Class-leading residual values. Cutting-edge safety technology. We could go on. Rivals of course, offer many of these things too, but nobody packages them up quite like Audi.
In summary, whether your destination is Sainsburys or the annual family skiing trip to Chamonix, it's likely that you'll feel better about doing it in an Audi Q5. A Jaguar F-PACE might better reward the frustrated racer in you. And a Land Rover product might better suit your inner Ranulph Fiennes. Ultimately though, it's hard to escape the conclusion that a Q5 simply does a better job of the whole business of ticking every really important need you'd want to meet when buying a premium mid-sized SUV. It isn't a car for extremes but if you're looking for a contender in this segment, it's extremely difficult to ignore.
Audi has improved its second generation Q5 mid-sized SUV. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Audi's second generation Q5 gets a smarter look, an extra sleeker Sportback body shape, an upgraded cabin and more efficient diesel power to join the existing petrol and petrol plug-in options. There's a big step forward in media connectivity too. As ever, this mid-sized premium Audi executive SUV offers car-like driving dynamics that are great on tarmac and are even pretty effective for light off road use. In short, if you can afford it, you'd like one.
Three models dominate the executive mid-to-large section of the premium-badged SUV sector and this is one of them, Audi's Q5. It's almost faced stiff competition from its two arch-rivals, the BMW X3 and the Mercedes GLC but looks stronger against them thanks to the package of mid-term updates visited upon the revised Q5 model range we're going to look at here.
Some things haven't changed though. As before, this is the kind of compact SUV you buy if you want something that'll look great in the driveway, keep you mobile in a snowy snap and shrink around you when a twisting road opens up ahead. It's a demanding brief that around three quarters of a million global owners feel was delivered on by the earlier versions of this car. But is this latest version good enough to continue to ask questions its rivals may struggle to answer? That's what we're going to find out.
This isn't the most dynamic-handling premium-badged mid-sized SUV you can buy but it's arguably the one that rides best and is most refined. S tronic auto transmission and quattro 4WD are standard across the range. The key news on the engine front is the arrival of a lighter, cleaner, more powerful 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine for the 40 TDI quattro variants that most Q5 customers choose. Power for this powerplant has increased from 190 to 204PS and this unit now uses the brand's latest, more efficient so-called 'twin dosing' catalytic converter technology. The conventional engine alternative is a 45 TFSI 245PS version of the brand's 2.0-litre petrol turbo. You may not have yet caught up with the fact that the SQ5 sporting model is now a mild hybrid 3.0-litre diesel (with 341PS and 700Nm of torque) and capable of 62mph in 5.1s en route to 155mph.
You also may not be up to date with the fact that the Q5 range now offers a couple of TFSI e Plug-in hybrid options which use a that 2.0-litre TFSI petrol turbo unit mated to a rechargeable 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery capable of providing a WLTP-rated electric driving range of up to 26 miles. Most in search of a Q5 PHEV will choose the 50 TFSI e variant, which offers 299PS and makes 62mph from rest in 6.1s en route to 148mph. There's also a more potent 55 TFSI e model with 367PS which improves that figure to 5.3s. For the 55 TFSI e, you have to have the sleeker Sportback body shape and if you choose that, you get firmer sports suspension; as with the standard model, you can upgrade that with either adaptive damping or full air suspension on request.
Design and Build
Specific hallmarks distinguish the latest members of the growing Audi Q crossover family from the core range and this updated Q5 now moves more closely into step with them visually. It comes in two forms - standard SUV and trendier Sportback form. If you stick with the standard SUV version, although the width and height of this mid-size SUV remain as before at 1.89 metres and 1.66 metres respectively, you'll find this Audi now 19mm longer at 4.8 metres, primarily due to its new, larger bumpers. To emphasise this car's Q credentials from the front, its octagonal Singleframe grille is shallower and appears wider than before. And the air intakes that flank it have grown in height and are now structured by trapezoidal insets. The headlights have a new daytime running light signature and there's wider availability of Audi's intelligent 'Matrix' beam technology. In profile this latest Q5 has a more streamlined look thanks to its redesigned sill insert. And at the rear, there's now a smart chrome trim element running between the light clusters and a redesigned lower diffuser insert too.
Inside, the expansive sweep of the two-section dashboard bisected by its sculpted trim inlay will be familiar to Q5 drivers, as will the freestanding MMI display. Closer inspection will reveal that the monitor itself is now larger, measuring 10.1-inches diagonally across the range; but unfortunately, you have to do without the old lower rotary centre console controller that originally acted as the gateway to the MMI functions. Now it's necessary to either stab away at the touchscreen or use voice control. Still, the screen's processor now offers ten times more computing power than the old set-up. And the previously optional 12.3-inch fully digital Audi Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle display is now standard. Otherwise, things are much as before. This remains a five-seat model and the rear seat is split into three segments. Longitudinal and seat back angle adjustment are optional. In the Sportback version, rear seat passengers lose 1-2cms of headroom to the sloping roofline. Depending on the rear seat position, the basic volume of the standard SUV version's luggage compartment ranges from 550 to 610-litres. When the rear bench is folded down, this volume grows to 1,550-litres. For the Q5 Sportback, the figures are 510-litres and 1,480-litres.
Market and Model
The price positioning of this second generation Q5 hasn't changed very much, so prices start at around £43,000 and the mainstream range is based around 'Sport', 'S line' and 'Vorsprung' trim levels. All variants now get a larger 10.1-inch centre-dash MMI infotainment screen and a standard Audi Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch instrument binnacle screen. Even base 'Sport' versions get full-leather upholstery - there's alcantara and leather in the mid-range 'S line' versions or diamond stitched Fine Nappa leather with the top flight 'Vorsprung' trim. As befits their status, the 'Vorsprung' models also feature an extended upholstery pack which takes in the lower section of the centre console and the door armrests, plus full electric adjustment and a massage function for the front seats. The outer rear seats are also upgraded with heating to match the front seats - which are heated throughout the range.
Across the range, you get front and rear parking sensors complemented by a reversing camera and cruise control, plus the 'Pre sense city collision avoidance and mitigation' system and 'hill descent control'. Q5 'Vorsprung' variants supplement this tally with upgraded adaptive cruise control and Pre sense systems, as well as assistants to take care of everything from manoeuvring into a parking space and then reversing out again to turning at junctions, monitoring blind spots and observing motorway lane boundaries.
Cost of Ownership
This second generation Q5 took a big step forward in terms of efficiency - and that's reflected by the WLTP figures. The 40 TDI diesel variant manages up to 44.8mpg on the combined cycle and up to 165g/km of CO2. These excellent figures have been aided by the introduction of so-called 'twin dosing' catalytic converter technology for this variant's 2.0 TDI unit, which features dual AdBlue injection, significantly increasing emissions cleanliness. With 'twin dosing', AdBlue is injected upstream of two SCR catalytic converters arranged in series, with the result of cutting emissions of nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80% compared with the previous 2.0-litre TDI engine. For the 45 TFSI petrol, the figures are up to 33.6mpg and up to 191g/km.
Elsewhere in the range, the SQ5's 3.0 TDI diesel delivers up to 34.4mpg and up to 215g/km. For the 50 TFSI e plug-in petrol/electric variant, it's up to 188.3mpg and up to 37g/km. A relatively slippery (for an SUV) Cd figure of 0.30Cd helps here.
And residuals? Well, trying to buy a used Q5 is quite a depressing experience as they cling onto their value with some tenacity. This is great news for the new buyer and part of a trend certain to continue with this MK2 model. After the usual three year / 60,000 mile ownership period, expect it still to be worth around 45% of what you originally paid for it.
Whether your destination is Sainsburys or the annual family skiing trip to Crans Montana, you'll feel better about doing it in an Audi Q5. In between, in contrast to larger, plusher and thirstier SUVs, you won't get that nagging feeling of using a sledgehammer to crash a nut when it comes to meeting your real motoring needs. Nor, when you're alone on a twisty B road, should you need to wish you'd bought something sportier.
Of course, the improved version of this second generation model now faces much tougher competition, but the well considered package of changes made to this smarter, better equipped and higher-tech mid-sized premium SUV should keep it very competitive with cars like Mercedes' GLC and BMW's X3 in the chasing pack. Certainly it's not cheap - but then neither is anything else in this segment and at least you'll get a decent part of your money back at resale time. Resolutely hi-tech and resolutely real world, the Q5 remains resolutely right.