First drive: Audi Q5 35 TDI drive
If you thought the Q7 is too big, which it is, and the Q3 a bit too small, that sort of leaves you with the few options. If you happen to be an Audi loyalist you have one option - the Q5. And it's been missing in action over the past few months. The reason, well, Audi was getting the second-generation version in order for 2018. This has been quite the success story for Audi, with every third Quattro-equipped car sold being a Q5. No pressure then. This just has to be done perfectly to fill in its predecessor's rather large shoes.
Is it really all-new?
Yes, it is. Unlike a lot of cars that change a couple of lines on the exterior or are more focussed and have little more than new lamps, the Q5 is properly all new. It is now based on the MLB EVO platform, the same one that the Q7 is based on. This has allowed the engineers to make a car that is longer, wider and taller than the previous one, but weighs in 65 kilos lighter as well. Head on is possibly its best angle with the humongous grille taking centrestage. Flanked by stylish new headlamps, it makes the Q5 look rather grown up and sort of mimics the presence of a Q7. Not a bad thing, some would say. In profile, however, the Q5 continues to look familiar with the roofline sloping into a gentle curve at the rear. The wheel arches are more flared now and there is a sharper crease along the shoulder line, but they aren't the most apparent. Tail-lamps are more easily distinguished though.
What changes on the inside?
A lot, would be the easy way of putting it. This cabin is in line with contemporary Audis. You get a redesigned steering wheel along with, what is now common, a virtual cockpit. The massive screen that makes up the instrument cluster now offers an uncluttered view of essential information at a glance. You could set it to vehicle information, the playlist you are listening to, the phone you have paired it with or the route you are navigating. There's also the 8.3-inch screen that sits as a part of the central console. Other features like a touchpad that recognises handwriting, MMI controls and a phone box to wirelessly charge your device have also made their way to the new Q5's cabin. Moreover, a longer wheelbase has freed up more space for the passengers with good legroom in the rear bench too. Don't miss the sizeable boot either, which will happily swallow a family's luggage for a long road trip.
Does it behave well on the go?
I'll be honest with you, this wasn't the longest drive that we've been on and the roads in Rajasthan tend to be quite flattering. However, there were a few towns, villages and off-road sections that we needed to get past and the Q5 felt perfectly composed through all of it. In 'comfort', it offers an unruffled ride and isn't too harsh in 'dynamic' either. We didn't really have time to try the off-road mode, but that isn't really what you would buy a Q5 for anyway. There is distinct difference in power delivery and shift points though with 'dynamic' offering to hold much higher revs. Audi claims the Q5, with its 2.0-litre TDI, will clock 100kph in 7.9 seconds and given the way the 190 horsepower is delivered, we would tend to agree. Combine that with the superbly smooth 7-speed DSG and the Q5 feels almost effortless. In fact, it can happily tick over at a paltry 1500 revs while you cruise at triple-digit speeds. What I would've liked though is some more feedback from the steering wheel. Audis are generally light to steer, but the Q5 feels especially so with only a marginal difference in feel registering once you select 'dynamic'.
Should I get one?
As good as the Q5 is, this is a particularly tough question. We love the Mercedes GLC and the Volvo XC60 seems to be a formidable rival currently. There is a lot that will depend on the numbers that Audi decide to fill into the empty price bracket. There is little doubt that the car itself has a lot to offer. The new cabin, space and engine all work in its favour. From the front, it is quite a handsome design too. Where it misses out is absolute driving feel that an enthusiast may look for. But, as a family car, it certainly ticks all the right boxes and delivers in a 'yes sir' sort of way.
Price\: 55 lakh (estd. ex-showroom)
Engine\: 2.0-litre TDI
Transmission\: 7-speed DSG