2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik Road Test Review

Audi’s Q5 has been number one in the compact luxury SUV segment for years, and thanks to a
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
An entirely new look only hints at all the improvements made to the totally overhauled 2018 Audi Q5. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
striking new redesign it’s sales leadership remains comfortably in the clear.

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.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Styling is more familiar from this angle. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the Q5’s seemingly uncontested number-one status prove overall superiority over its competitors? The list of compact luxury SUV rivals that beg to differ is long, and some of those could arguably be deemed more luxurious and/or more capable both on- and off-road, albeit for a price. Ask the Q5’s legions of owners why they made their choice and the answer will likely be a combination of styling, quality, performance, prestige, and value.

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.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
How’s that for a big, bold new single-frame grille design? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
value for a vehicle that’s easily on par with its fellow Germans for pedigree, drives brilliantly, surpasses most in the class when it comes to exterior and interior design plus materials quality, is amongst the leaders with respect to digital interfaces, is roomier than the class average, and delivers plenty of features in base trim as well as a compelling list of competitively priced extras, is certainly reason enough for its extreme popularity.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Full LED headlamps are standard in Technik trim and optional below. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of aluminum, the latter used for the hood, liftgate, suspension, powertrain and more, the updated Q5 sheds some 125 kilos (200 lbs) of curb weight from the outgoing model, despite growing slightly in overall size.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The S line sport package modifies the lower fascia and adds these fabulous 20-inch alloys. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
steering wheel, a colour multi-information display within the gauge cluster, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch infotainment display, a smartphone interface utilizing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, heatable eight-way powered front seats, four-way powered lumbar support for the driver, leather upholstery, Micrometallic silver inlays, a powered liftgate, tire pressure monitoring, Audi pre sense basic that automatically closes all windows and the sunroof if sensing a potential accident, the usual allotment of active and passive safety features, and more.

Options on Komfort models include two standard and eight available $890 exterior paint
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The LED taillights provide eye-catching dynamic turn signals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
colours, the choice of four no-cost interior colour themes, a $1,850 Convenience package featuring proximity-sensing keyless access including a foot-activated gesture liftgate, power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, memory for those side mirrors and the driver’s seat, a heatable steering wheel rim, a rearview camera, plus front and rear parking sensors, while its sole standalone option is a set of rear side-thorax airbags for $500. Near countless accessories can be ordered for your new or pre-owned Q5 as well, including a Qi wireless device charger.

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.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
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)
more exterior colour options are available to Progressiv customers, this trim upgrade also making optional LED headlamps with auto high beams available for $900, plus a $1,650 Comfort Interior package featuring ventilated front sport seats and retractable sunshades for rear side windows, a $2,300 S line Sport package that includes special 20-inch alloys on 255/45 all-seasons, sportier S line exterior styling and badging, an S line rear spoiler, S line branded stainless steel doorsills, S line interior upgrades including brushed aluminum inlays, stainless steel pedals, front sport seats, power lumbar support for the front passenger, and a black headliner, and lastly a $1,500 Driver Assistance package featuring an anti-theft alarm with tow-away protection, a very useful 360-degree surround top-view camera, Audi side assist blindspot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, an exit warning system, and Audi pre sense rear.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The new cockpit improves ergonomics and totally upgrades electronics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
items for Progressiv trim include Fine Grain Ash Natural Brown inlays for $600, rear outboard seat heaters for $300, and Audi Connect Assistance and Security Services for assistance, entertainment and security at $520.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Audi’s optional 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit is extremely high in resolution and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
$2,400 adaptive air suspension, while finally a $2,100 Advanced Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control with low-speed stop-and-go functionality, Audi pre sense front and pre sense city autonomous braking, traffic sign recognition, active lane assist, and traffic congestion assist.

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.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
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)
new Quattro Ultra all-wheel drive system is standard too. More recently introduced on the A4 Allroad compact crossover wagon, the new Ultra design dispatches with the outgoing model’s centre differential in favour of two clutch packs that disengage the rear axle when no rear-wheel slip is detected in order to save fuel. Just the same, the new model’s five-cycle Transport Canada fuel economy rating increases from 10.3 L/100km combined last year to 10.5 now, its city rating moving up from 12.0 L/100km to 12.3 and its highway rating improving from 8.6 to 8.2. I’m ok with that considering its much-improved performance.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
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)
trust? I must admit that a more advanced engine driving a considerably lighter vehicle utilizing a more efficient all-wheel drive system through what should be less internal drag from a dual-clutch gearbox (albeit seven speeds instead of eight) should use less fuel, so I’m leaning towards the EPA’s results in this case.

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.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Instead of a touchscreen, this console-mounted trackpad allows the same types of tablet-style gesture controls. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
haven’t yet tested the SQ5, which leaves me very satisfied with the regular Q5’s performance. It’s off-the-line power is more than adequate and doesn’t relent on its way up to highway speeds, while the new gearbox shifts smoothly in Comfort mode and extremely quick yet still amply smooth in Dynamic mode. Speaking of smooth, the Q5’s ride might be even nicer than the outgoing model, which was already a class leader when it comes to comfort, while fast-paced handling has definitely benefited from its new underpinnings, the upgraded SUV feeling more planted on the highway and more confidence-inspiring through switchbacks.

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,
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The leather and metal shift lever is a beautiful piece of functional modern art. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
high-tech design and materials theme set out by the larger Q7. Although take note my tester was done up in aforementioned S line trim, which meant its overall motif was sporting thanks to contrast-stitched black leather and loads of brushed aluminum with red S line badging in place of warmer colours and luxe hardwoods used by other trims.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Upgraded S line sport seats are dreamily comfortable and totally supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
navigation mapping displays in the industry, and more, while the fixed tablet-style infotainment monitor at dash central features one of the best quality displays in the business, plus Audi’s easy-to-use lower console-mounted MMI interface to control it, the latter incorporating the usual rotating knob as well as a handy trackpad for pinch and swipe gesture inputs. It includes eight touch-sensitive presets as well, plus a touch-sensitive menu and back button plus other functions. Aluminized rocker switches allow quick access to the navigation and mapping system, phone, audio, and media interfaces. I only wish the display up top was also a touchscreen, as it would fit more naturally into my smartphone and tablet oriented world.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The panoramic sunroof can power open and also includes a powered sunshade. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
the precision a finely crafted dive watch, and once again their knurled metal edges are so beautifully finished I couldn’t help but be left in awe. As noted, the rest of the switchgear is above par, whether aluminized or made from matte black composite, with only the row of centre stack-mounted toggles feeling a bit hollow and unsubstantial.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Rear seat comfort and spaciousness is excellent. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
respect, not to mention a number within the mainstream volume branded ranks costing thousands less. Still, the Q5 does everything else so very well that we’re forced to accept such corner cutting.

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,
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
A gesture controlled powered liftgate makes accessing the cargo area easier. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
which is large, accommodating and extremely comfortable, especially in the outboard positions thanks to good lower back support. A wide centre armrest flips down to expose dual flip-up cupholders, which would do a decent job of holding small coffee cups or tins of juice or pop, but aren’t helpful if your kids’ drinking habits lean more towards Big Gulp-sized containers.

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
2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The new Q5’s total cargo capacity is impressive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
550-litre (19.4 cubic foot) cargo compartment via release levers attached to each sidewall. The seats don’t completely fold flat when you release them, meaning you’ll need to walk around to the side doors in order to click them into place, so I suppose what at first appeared like a handy set of levers are really a bit redundant. Still, like with all Audi SUVs and wagons the cargo compartment is beautifully finished with carpeting across the floor, up most of the sidewalls as well as the seatbacks, while metal brightwork adorns the tie-downs and nice little corner cargo nets keep smaller loose items from flying around. A temporary spare can be found under the removable cargo floor, but there’s not much room for much else unless you’re in the habit of stowing away work gloves and a small set of tools like yours truly.

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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