|An entirely new look only hints at all the improvements made to the totally overhauled 2018 Audi Q5. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Q5 isn’t just popular here in Canada, but it’s a favourite the world over. The first-generation model sold more than 1.5 million units globally since its 2008 arrival, and despite being on the market for more than eight years with few significant changes sales actually grew in its final years.
As you might expect, the completely redesigned 2018 Q5 has continued this surge up the sales charts. Yes, calendar year 2017 will be another Q5 record when it closes in just over a month’s time, with year-to-date deliveries of 8,791 units as of October’s close, this number already surpassing last year’s record high of 8,313 unit sales.
|Styling is more familiar from this angle. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
For starters, the Q5 is hardly the most expensive compact luxury SUV on the market. Its starting price of $44,950 plus freight and fees leaves a lone Brit, two domestics (one of Chinese origin) and three Japanese with MSRPs below, plus a Swede, a pair of Brits, and trio of Germans higher, not including the subset of SUV coupes.
|How’s that for a big, bold new single-frame grille design? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Along with its edgy new styling, which follows the sharper lines and squared off shoulders of the Q3 and Q7 that came before, the new 2018 Q5 sits on VW group’s more up-to-date MLB platform that already underpins the recently redesigned A4. Combining multiple grades of high-strength steel with a generous supply
|Full LED headlamps are standard in Technik trim and optional below. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like last year’s Q5 and nearly every other model in Audi’s Canadian lineup, the 2018 Q5 is available in three trims including base Komfort, mid-range Progressiv, and top-tier Technik.
Standard Komfort equipment includes 18-inch alloys on 235/60 all-season tires, auto on/off HID headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights with dynamic indicators, anodized metal-finish roof rails, ambient interior lighting, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a leather-wrapped multifunction
|The S line sport package modifies the lower fascia and adds these fabulous 20-inch alloys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Options on Komfort models include two standard and eight available $890 exterior paint
|The LED taillights provide eye-catching dynamic turn signals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Convenience package is included as standard equipment when moving up to $49,950 Progressiv trim, while additional features include larger 19-inch alloys on 235/55 all-seasons, a garage door opener, navigation, a powered panoramic sunroof, and a stainless steel cargo sill protector.
|An improved interior could have gone further in refinement, yet still offers some of the best design and materials in the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|The new cockpit improves ergonomics and totally upgrades electronics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Lastly, as-tested $54,200 Technik trim makes the full LED headlamps with auto high beams standard, as well as the Driver Assistance package and the heatable rear seats, before adding a different set of 19-inch alloys, a fabulous 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit TFT configurable instrument cluster with the ability to shrink the digital gauges and simultaneously enlarge the multi-info display, configurable ambient interior lighting, heated and cooled cupholders, a superb sounding Bang & Olufsen 3D surround audio system, Audi connect telematics, and more.
Dark Brown Walnut inlays join the previously noted optional Fine Grain Ash Natural Brown inlays for $600, while additional Technik options include a head-up display for $1,100, a $1,000 sports suspension with damping control, or alternatively a separate
|Audi’s optional 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit is extremely high in resolution and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
A standard item not yet mentioned is the all-new 2.0-litre direct-injection and turbocharged four-cylinder, this engine making 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque for a 32-horsepower and 15 lb-ft bump over the outgoing mill. It comes mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automated manual gearbox that’s as easy to use as a regular automatic yet shifts quicker, uses less fuel and is nicer to the environment, the latter two benefits enhanced further by standard auto start/stop that shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling. Also standard, Audi’s Drive Select lets you choose between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic (sport) driving modes that affect steering and damper control.
|Click the "VIEW" button on the steering wheel and the Virtual Cockpit’s centre multi-info display almost completely takes over. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
This said the new Q5’s U.S. EPA rating is better than the outgoing model, from 20 mpg (11.7 L/100km) city, 27 (8.7) highway and 22 (10.7) combined to 23 mpg (10.2 L/100km) city, 27 (8.7) highway and 25 (9.4) combined. Which one can we
|The MMI infotainment display is also very high in quality and packed with functionality, although I would’ve appreciated a simple touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Going faster in mind, the old 272-horsepower V6 is no longer available, so you’ll need to step up to the 354-horsepower SQ5 if you want a boost in performance, this model featuring a ZF-sourced eight-speed auto and Quattro AWD (of course). The extra zoot results in a full second shaved from the sprint to 100km/h, now taking just 5.3 seconds instead of 6.3, with the top speed increased from 209 km/h (130 mph) to 250 km/h (155 mph) – as if any of us would attempt achieving either here on Canadian soil.
|Instead of a touchscreen, this console-mounted trackpad allows the same types of tablet-style gesture controls. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I like the new Q5’s driving position better too, the steering wheel providing plenty of rake and reach and the seat including more adjustment than I required, while no one should complain about the new model’s interior styling, which follows the same modern,
|The leather and metal shift lever is a beautiful piece of functional modern art. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Quality for most everything above the hips is superb, this including switchgear, much of which is edged in various textures of aluminum, with most knobs featuring gorgeous knurled detailing. The Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster is digital overwhelm in a good way, its centre multi-info panel capable of growing in size when pressing the steering wheel-mounted “VIEW” button for one of the most alluring
|Upgraded S line sport seats are dreamily comfortable and totally supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The tri-zone auto climate control panel in between is just as impressive, with some of the most exacting bezels I’ve ever experienced in a vehicle. They click with
|The panoramic sunroof can power open and also includes a powered sunshade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All this said I was a bit surprised that Audi didn’t go all the way when it comes to soft-touch interior plastics, the entire dash top and all of the door panels made from pliable materials, but the mid and lower portions of the instrument panel, including the glove box lid, comprised of hard shell plastic. It was high-quality stuff with a nicely textured matte finish, but I can’t say this is par for the course in the compact luxury class, because many of the Q5’s competitors have anted up in this
|Rear seat comfort and spaciousness is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
One of Audi’s best qualities is its steering wheels, and this S line-equipped model’s contrast-stitched, solid and perforated leather-wrapped multi-function wheel is a standout design, benefiting from metal paddle shifters to enhance its sporting character. Back over to those aluminized toggle switches is the aforementioned Drive Select function, while the perforated leather and aluminum trimmed T-shaped gear lever just below can be pulled to the left for manual mode allowing optimal control via those shift paddles.
All this talk about the cockpit made me almost forget to mention the rear seating area,
|A gesture controlled powered liftgate makes accessing the cargo area easier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Only those in the middle position will complain about the three-way outboard seat heaters that warm up quickly and stay nice and hot, these ideal when returning home from a day on the slopes with skis stored down the centre pass-through, although you’ll want to remove the griping third child in advance.
The rear seatbacks split 40/20/40 across the entire Q5 line, easily expanding on the
|The new Q5’s total cargo capacity is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
So is the Q5 worthy of its number one status? Considering its value proposition I have no problem declaring an enthusiastic yes, although I’d like to see Audi improve its rear seat folding mechanism and upgrade the quality of its below-the-belt dash plastics, while the powers that be might also want to combine its various infotainment system controllers with a more straightforward touchscreen-the world is addicted to smartphones and tablets these days, so carmakers might as well make the transition to automotive applications as seamless as possible.
Still, I’d drive a 2018 Q5 all day long without complaint. It really is a superb compact luxury SUV in most every respect.
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