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Audi Q5 2.0 TDI S-line review: crossover driven in the UK

£40,830 when new

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Car specifications

Budget
£40,830
Brake horsepower
190bhp
Fuel consumption
55.4mpg
0–62 mph
7.90s
CO2
133g/km
Max speed
135Mph
Insurance Group
29E

An Audi Q5 with a 2.0-litre TDI engine? Now you’re spoiling us.

Not even the shiniest haired Audi sales executive would pretend the new Q5 2.0 TDI is the most interesting car to have four-fifths of the Olympic logo on its nose. But if we’re talking relevant cars for real-world folks, this is about as hotly awaited as prestige German cars get. Pre-options, it’s a £39,405 machine.

You’re getting the new Q5, the darling of the posh crossover set, with a 189bhp motor capable of a claimed 56.5mpg, 132g/km – so that’s £130 annually on the current tax rules, and £200 on the new ones – and a potential range of 800 miles. 

Forgive the number deluge: it’s the simplest way of illustrating why this thing makes so much sense for so many punters (whether they’re spending their money, or their company’s).

That’s the Golf GTD engine. Fast, is it?

Not really. In fact, a few of the TG team complained the Q5 felt a tad sluggish when asked for maximum go, which is out of character for this chesty 295lb ft engine and its standard-fit seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Obviously quattro drive is standard, so wheelspin’s never an issue. But shifting 1,770kg of Q5, before you’ve added a driver, any passengers or luggage means the Q5 doesn’t move around with the same vim of a machine capable of 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. 

Max torque is held out from 1,750-3,000rpm, but there’s several thousand revs of largely pointless buzzing after when you’re aiming to get a move on that adds noise, but not speed.

So I’ll be able to drop it in a tailgate situation? Brilliant.

Maybe, just maybe, this is an Audi that won’t cause its driver to grow horns and a pointy red tail. Because it’s just so, so relaxing to cruise in. How Audi has managed to diminish this much vibration and rattle from the cabin is anyone’s guess – Mercedes and BMW will be ripping one screw-from-rivet as we speak – because for noise, vibration and harshness, the Q5 is utterly beguiling. 

It makes its rivals from Germany and Land Rover seem about as hushed as emergency roadworks in the middle on an earthquake. Yup, as with the A4 and Q7, Audi is running away with the refinement game, creating mainstream cars which will have Rolls-Royce double-checking its decibel-ometers.

If it’s a refined cruiser, it’s comfortable too, right?

At low speed, yes. The ride is fine. Not plush, or particularly compliant, but well controlled and well, fine. However, it’s choppier once you climb into dual-carriageway speeds, which is also where you’re likely to clatter into an expansion joint, which the Q5, on S-line suspension at least, really doesn’t take kindly to. The wallowier Mercedes GLC copes with cruddy British surfaces more adeptly.

Oh look at the time, it’s Audi-interiors-are-lush o’clock.

Well, they are. It’s not gushing to point out that objectively, the materials used and finish applied beats Mercedes, crucifies Land Rover and embarrasses BMW – though the ambience is the most austere of the lot. But since we’re talking family SUVs, utility rears its head above knurled volume controls. 

Annoyingly, the Q5’s quite sorted at being a useful family car too. Its 550-litre boot matches the Mercedes GLC’s to the litre, and the loading sill is a handy 196mm low, though there’s a lip to haul stuff over rather than it sliding in flat like a Disco Sport allows. 

There’s no seven-seat option either – Land Rover really moved the goalposts there – but the second row of Q5 pews is at least spot-on for foot, knee and headroom. If you’re planning to seat three across the back regularly, it’s worth nothing the Q5 S-line’s slightly sculpted rear seats pinch the middle passenger more than its rivals.

But there’s no real duffer in this class, so people just buy the car they want, right?

More than likely. The Audi probably makes the least impressive visual impression, it’ doesn’t have off-road or seven-seat kudos to boast and it’s not memorable to drive purposefully. 

But, its supreme powertrain refinement does smack of massive amounts of detail-obsessed engineering, and utterly leaves all its rivals for dead. Want a quiet, frugal engine? It’s the Q5 uber alles. But we’d be tempted to drop S-line spec and see if that helps smooth out the ride to match the diligently damped-out diesel.

What do you think?

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