Second gen Audi Q5 and SQ5 arrive

The first generation of Audi’s Q5, released here in 2009, established itself as the most successful of the brand’s SUV models in Australia, with more than 24,500 having found buyers.

Likewise, the hot-rod model in the range, the SQ5, has sold strongly with more than 4100 finding homes in Aussie garages since launch in 2013.

The new second-generation Q5 range brings widespread improvements including extra interior space, increased fuel efficiency, advanced technologies, upgraded infotainment systems, new safety systems, and more sculpted and muscular body styling.

The taut new body has reduced aerodynamic drag (all four-cylinder versions attain a low Cd figure of 0.30, which Audi claim as best in class), and despite increased exterior dimensions, the vehicle has shed significant weight. The body structure alone is around 20kg lighter than the old model, while the 2.0 TDI has dropped 90kg overall. Increased use of aluminium and high strength steels, sophisticated panel and frame forming techniques, and new suspension components with increased use of cast aluminium, have all contributed to weight reduction. With weight reduction comes enhanced fuel efficiency and performance gains.

Wheelbase has increased by 12mm, overall length grows by 34mm and height is 4mm greater. Inside there’s more shoulder width and head room in the front and rear, while maximum knee and elbow room in the rear has grown. Luggage space has also increased by 10 litres to a minimum of 550 litres. It’s able to be expanded to a sizeable 1550 litres with the rear seat folded.

The entry model is the Q5 Design 2.0-litre TDI Quattro with seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch auto at a list price of $65,900. Claimed maximum outputs are 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque, while official combined consumption comes in at 5.3 litres/100km (a reduction of 0.7 l/100km). The 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched half a second quicker than before, stopping the clock at 7.9 seconds.

Key equipment details for the Design include 18” alloys, Xenon headlights with LED DRLs, leather seat trim, three-way split-fold rear seat, keyless entry/start, multi-function steering wheel and paddle shifters, three-zone climate control, Audi eight speaker audio system with CD and two SDXC card readers.

Next rung up is the Q5 Sport listing at $70,700 and sharing the same 140kW 2.0-litre TDI powertrain as the Design, or for $73,211 there’s a Q5 Sport petrol version. It’s powered by a 2.0-litre TFSI turbo-petrol engine with seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox and Quattro drive system. The 2.0-litre TFSI engine outputs 185kW and 370Nm, accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds (0.6 seconds faster than the old model), and consumes 7.3 litres/100km (a reduction of 0.3 litres).

The difference between the Design and Sport versions comes down to extra standard equipment including 20” alloys, adaptive LED headlights with dynamic indicators, sport front seats, Audi virtual cockpit 12.3” hi-res dash board, MMI navigation plus (five map updates included) with larger 8.3” hi-res screen and MMI touch, DVD player, Audi 180W premium sound system (10 speakers including sub-woofer).

Amongst the plentiful options, Audi offer three ‘packs’ for buyers looking to personalise their vehicle – the Comfort Pack ($2200 Design models/$1900 on Sport models), the S Line Pack ($3300 on Sport models), and the Technik Pack ($5600 on Sport and SQ5. Includes a B & O 19 speaker 755 watt sound system, that’s also available as a stand-alone option).

A special launch edition model, the S Line Black, limited to 70 units in total, will be offered at $82,900 for the 2.0 TDI and $86,611 for the 2.0 TFSI featuring extra equipment, body enhancements and special Quantum Grey paint work.

All models have received a five star ANCAP crash rating and there’s advanced safety technology on all models. This includes Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection (up to 85km/h), exit warning system (warns occupants of passing traffic, including cyclists, when opening doors), cross traffic assist with braking function, side assist blind spot warning, Audi pre-sense basic (belt tensioning, window closing, other protective measures if a potential emergency is detected), pre-sense rear (warns following traffic if they risk running into the rear of the car), and parking system plus with rear camera.

On Sport models, additional driver assistance includes adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, turn assist, pre-sense front (collision warning up to 250km/h), predictive efficiency assistant, and high beam assist.

Both Q5 drivetrains feature Audi’s latest Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive system. The system which took over six years to develop, helps improve fuel efficiency while also contributing around 4kg of weight saving. The system uses two clutches – a multi-plate clutch between the gearbox and propeller shaft, plus a dog-clutch in the rear axle – to swap the system between front or all-wheel drive as needed. By disengaging the drive through the rear axle and differential when it isn’t required, the drag and frictional losses these driveline components contribute are prevented, improving efficiency.

By monitoring a range of parameters, the system can predictively shift to all-wheel-drive before wheel slip occurs or reactively if slip is detected due to sudden grip level changes. It’s a clever system, and as our more than 900km launch drive between Melbourne and Adelaide showed, shifts are imperceptible and it was never wrong-footed even in a range of slippery and wet conditions we encountered.

The second-generation successor to the performance model, the SQ5, has also been released. However, the cracking 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine of the original model has gone, replaced for the present at least, by a 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbo TFSI V6 engine delivering 260kW (up 20kW) and peak torque of 500Nm (down by 150Nm compared to the previous diesel) delivered between 1370 and 4500rpm, ensuring great drivability. The zero to 100km/h time is quoted at 5.4 seconds, not bad for near two tonnes of SUV (though slower than the car it replaces by 0.3 seconds), while the official consumption of 95 RON petrol is 8.7 litres/100km. The SQ5 weighs in 130kg lighter than its lardier predecessor.

It’s matched to an eight-speed tiptronic auto and Audi’s Quattro drive system. However, the Ultra system used in the standard Q5 is dropped in favour of a self-locking mechanical centre differential and an optional sport rear diff ($2950).

Also now available as an option on SQ5 (and Q5 Sport) is adaptive air suspension with variable ride height (normal height, all-road mode – normal +25mm, off-road mode – normal +45mm, dynamic mode – normal -15mm, loading mode – normal -55mm).

SQ5 provides solid stopping power to match its lusty performance, courtesy of 350mm ventilated discs and six-piston callipers in red finish up front, and 330mm rear discs. A body styling pack, 21” alloys, adaptive LED headlights, dynamic rear indicators, sports seats trimmed in Nappa leather, Audi’s virtual cockpit with 12.3” hi-res dash with S-Mode, privacy glass and acoustic glazing are just some of the sporty SQ5’s standard kit. It’s priced at $99,611.

The new Q5 is assembled for our market at Audi’s new plant at San José Chiapa in Mexico. But the fit and finish looks bang on the exemplary standards expected from the brand.