Sam Philip21 April 2008

Eastern promise

Audi launches X3-rivalling Q5 in China. Yes, it's another soft-roader

Audi Q5

We'd suspected it for a while, but now we're sure: Audi hearts China.

After showing off its Cross Coupe Concept at the Beijing auto show last year, Audi has just unveiled the production Q5 - a small SUV in the mould of the BMW X3 - at the same show.

Yes, it's yet another soft-roader, but it looks like a tidy effort from Audi, so let's dive straight into some Worthwhile Facts.

The Q5 - which will be built in both Germany and, yes, China - sits on the same platform as the A5 and A4, which means it has a longer wheelbase and lower overall height than most of the small soft-road crowd.

It's a far more understated creature than its big brother Q7 - although it retains the same trapezoidal grille up front, the Q5 doesn't look half as keen to devour unwitting pedestrians.

The visuals can be beefed up, though, with an S-Line bodykit, or there's an 'offroad style kit' with underbody protection and the like if you'd prefer.

The Q5 will launch with a choice of three engines: a two-litre turbodiesel, a lively sounding two-litre TFSI petrol engine and the range-topping 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel. The latter develops 237bhp but a whopping 369lb ft of torque, which will see the Q5 to 62mph in 6.2 seconds and on to 139mph while returning 36.6mpg.

It'll also come with the option of Audi's new seven-speed S-tronic gearbox - the Q5 is the first car to get the twin-clutch transmission, but expect to see it pop up elsewhere very soon.

As you'd expect, the Q5 gets permanent four-wheel drive, with 60 per cent of the torque feeding through the rear wheels in normal driving conditions - 'for a rear-focussed style that enhances driving pleasure', according to Audi - but can vary the front/rear bias depending on road conditions.

Or off-road conditions: Audi reckons the Q5 will do the business on the muddy stuff, too, and says the car will climb slopes of 31 degrees and cross streams half a metre deep.

We'll find out when the Q5 arrives in Britain at the very end of this year. Expect prices to start just under £31,000 and rise plenty rapidly from there.


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