Driven: The Audi Q5 SUV

We’ve always had a soft spot for Audi. Their design has always been a careful balance between sophisticated style, and rip-your-head-off aggression. The Q5 is no different, something akin to a crouched tiger. Elegant, refined, but fierce as hell. We were particularly excited to get behind the wheel of this one, to give it the Car News Cafe road test.

Competitors – First, a look at what the Q5 is up against. It’s a busy and competitive category of middle range SUVs. They all sit within the £30-£50k range, with similar features and specs. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is perhaps the toughest rival, with reputation and impeccable reviews on its side. The new Volvo XC90 is also a solid car, though less refined. Meanwhile the BMW X3 is the veteran of the group. We’d choose the Audi over the BMW and Volvo any day of the week, but is it better than the Discovery Sport? Let’s take a look.

Driving experience – Our first experience on the Q5 was on the winding country roads, and it responded like a dream. In fact, you almost forget you’re driving a large 4×4. It almost feels as low and responsive as the A4. It hugs the corners like an SUV shouldn’t! However, we found our first shortcoming when we took the Q5 into town. On tight corners and small roads, it doesn’t fare so well. The suspension is tight, and the ride becomes very bumpy. Avoid the city, and you’ll love it.

Interior – Modern SUVs are as much about interior comfort and luxury as they are drivability. The Q5 certainly doesn’t disappoint in this category. In fact, it’s the best in class by quite some way. Audi’s refined and tech-packed cabin outshines the Discovery, the Volvo, and the BMW. In fact, it would hold up against the Range Rover Sport in the higher price bracket.

Costs – The Q5 starts at £31k and rises to £50k for all the extras. Of course, you can always opt for a monthly finance option; check out Inchcape Audi to see what’s on offer. For our money, the 2.0 litre diesel engine is the best option. It provides more than enough power and excitement under the bonnet. It’s also one of the more fuel efficient options that Audi offer. The Q5 isn’t exactly a Toyota Prius, but the fuel economy is respectable, just shy of 50mpg.

Off roading – Since the Q5 is billed as an SUV or 4×4, we thought we ought to see how it fared on the dirt tracks. The Audi handles light terrain with ease. It also comes with a built in ‘hill control’ feature. As you might expect, it falls short of the Land Rover in this capacity, but it will hold its own. Unless you’re planning on taking this up a mountain or through rivers, you’ll find it plenty powerful.

Our verdict? The Q5 is right at the top of its class here. It only battles with the Land Rover which outshines it off-road and around town. Otherwise, the Q5 is a strong and capable rival.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.