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New Audi Q5 review: Big tech upgrades arrive for popular SUV


This is one of the most popular luxury SUVs on the road and a mass of new equipment and hi-tech advancements make it even better.

A sharper grille and cleaner styling are among the highlights for the updated Audi Q5 mid-sized SUV that has just gone on sale.

But the tech and infotainment updates for the popular luxury SUV dominate centre stage. A mild-hybrid system promises to reduce fuel use by about 0.3 litres per 100 kilometres.

As well as standard ambient lighting and a three-way customisable instrument cluster, the Q5 allows owners to choose the light pattern displayed within the redesigned tail lights.

The world-first configurable tail lights automatically adjust depending on the selected drive mode or can be tailored by the driver.

Audi has stepped up the standard equipment for the entry-level cars, the diesel 40 TDI and petrol 45 TFSI four-cylinders (slightly more expensive, at about $77,500 and $79,000 respectively) now getting 19-inch allow wheels, higher quality leather trim, smart key entry, wireless phone charging and four USB plugs. While Android Auto requires a plug, the Apple CarPlay connectivity is now wireless.

Throw in tri-zone airconditioning, powered tailgate, ambient lighting and powered front seats and it’s a generous level of kit.

The Q5 is also one of the first luxury SUVs to come standard with roof racks. Many SUVs already have the rails for aesthetics, but having the bars running across the car means you can pop a surfboard or bike up top.

Safety includes camera-based auto braking up to 85km/h, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, driver monitor and exit warning to prevent a door being opened on another vehicle or cyclist.

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The Sport models (about $84,000 as a diesel 40 TDI or $86,500 as a petrol 45 TFSI) get 20-inch wheels, heated sports seats, 360-degree camera (with kerb view function), panoramic sunroof and a better stereo. There’s also a forward-facing radar for adaptive cruise control, turn assist and auto braking above 85km/h.

Around 400 Launch Edition models build on that Sport trim with unique wheels and different interior finishes.

By April, the more powerful 50 TDI S Line gets a distinctive honeycomb grille and unique bumpers as well as a V6 diesel.

A new 10.1-inch touchscreen does without the MMI controller previously positioned between the front seats. Instead, it’s a full touchscreen that incorporates plenty within, although it’s a stretch that could have some tilting out of their seat.

While diesel traditionally made up almost half of Q5 sales, Audi is expecting the petrol models to be more popular.

With 183kW and 370Nm, the 2.0-litre has decent pull across the rev range but gets into its stride above 4000rpm, at which point its revvy nature makes for snappy acceleration. The mild hybrid has very little impact on everyday driving but adds a smidge of low-end muscle, most noticeable with very gentle throttle applications.

Claimed fuel use has increased to 8.0 litres per 100km but was tested to a different standard, so should be more realistic.

The 2.0-litre diesel is more relaxed because even though there’s less outright power (150kW), its 400Nm peak arrives from as low as 1750rpm. There’s a generous surge of torque from early on and gear shifts from the twin-clutch auto take advantage of the effortless pull. Even when driven hard there’s little fuss or fluster, and claimed consumption is just 5.4L/100km. There is one caveat: between the transmission sorting itself out and the turbo coming on, boost take-offs can be leisurely.

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Both cars we tried were Sport models fitted with 20-inch wheels.

The suspension is taut but still smothers most bumps adeptly. Reassuring control is the underlying theme and there was additional compliance on the car we tried with optional air suspension ($3385). Either is less convincing trundling around town at low speeds, especially encountering sharper bumps, where the initial firmness takes the edge off comfort.

Inside, finishes are to a high quality and if you don’t like the metal trim across the dash you can instead choose classy open pore wood. The wireless phone charging pad cleverly slides back to reveal cupholders.

Those in the rear get respectable head and legroom, although the person in the middle fights for foot space with a prominent transmission tunnel. Still, the revised Q5 is now a convincing mid-sized luxury SUV that has lifted value and efficiency.

VERDICT 3.5/5

Added tech boosts luxury SUV appeal.

AUDI Q5 45 TFSI VITALS

Price: From about $79,000 drive-away

Warranty/servicing: 3 yrs/ul’td km, $2720 for 5 yrs/75,000km

Safety: 5 stars (2017), 8 airbags, active bonnet, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, driver monitor, exit warning

Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol, 183kW/370Nm

Thirst: 8.0L/100km

Spare: Space-saver

Boot: 550L



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