Audi Q5 revamp – a luxury SUV at an affordable price, but watch the options


Only for the engineering genius and determination of German car makers, the 4X4 SUV would be in serious decline in Europe if not extinct in Ireland.

Thanks to extreme Green legalisation both here and across the pond large private vehicles with high CO2 emissions were being taxed into oblivion.

Take the BMW X5 or the Audi Q7, both savaged by the new regime seeing road tax rocket to an obscene €2,000 a year for the beer mat in the window.

That was 2008 when SUV sales flat lined – ironically the same time as the launch of the Audi Q5.

Now, they may have been late for the party, but Audi is now the belle of the ball and the very same Q5 today has made owning and running a once hated 4X4 affordable.

Yes, an army of boffins have spent the last 12 months sprinkling the magic Vorsprung Durch Technik glitter over this revamped bus.

Not only is it leaner and greener it’s even a little bit meaner.

Nestling in between the gargantuan Q7 and baby Q3, the 5 has taken many a scalp off the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, but with the new Range Rover Evoque on the block it needs an extra edge.

Now, to the untrained eye this tweaked version doesn’t look all that much different to its older brother.

Real anoraks will spot the revised six-corner, single grille finished in piano black, complete with revised new air intakes and chrome surrounds on the fogs.

But the real giveaway is the headlamps (standard on the S-Line) which come with a continuous LED band surrounding the whole lens.

The rear gets a bit of nip and tuck while the sloping roofline gets sharper, more refined lines.

Inside a bit of de-cluttering has taken place with a simplification of the MMI navigation system while most of the controls are now trimmed in chrome.

All trim lines get equipment upgrades too including Bluetooth as standard across the range.

SE versions get heated seats and automatic boot lid in addition to leather upholstery, wood inlays, 18” alloy wheels, colour driver information system  – all for an extra €2,500 over entry models.

A new option is the Q5 S Line version available for €3,385 above SE versions which gets Xenon Lights with LED daytime running lights, S Line sports package, 18” S Line sport alloy wheels, leather S Line embossed sports seats and 3 spoke multifunction leather steering wheel.

But most of the tinkering has been carried out where you can’t see it.

There entire engine range gets remapped to increase power while lowering fuel consumption – some by as much as 15pc.

Thanks to Stop/Start technology (as standard), the entry level 2.0TDI, 143bhp diesel (2WD) is so easy on juice it has emissions of 139g/km – meaning road tax of €220.

Even the 2.0 TDI 177bhp (with S-tronic transmission and Quattro drive) delivers an eye-watering 47.1mpg.

And for those wanting the Full Monty, the 3.0 TDI V6 churns out a staggering 245bhp while returning 44mpg.

Real sports fans will be licking their lips in anticipation with the news that for the first time ever there will be a fully-fledged dieselS Q5on offer.

This all-wheel drive beast twinned with an eight-speed triptronic auto will be packing an awesome 313bhp which hits 0-100kph in 5.1 seconds, has a governed top end of 250 –  all while returning an astounding 39mpg.

It’ll cost an equally breath-taking €72,000, but that’s a story for another day.

With winter coming and how unpredictable Irish weather is we tested the snow-friendly 2.0 litre TDi Quattro.

This Tax Band D (€481 a year duty) 177bhp unit is remarkably more refined thanks to a new thermal management system that shortens the warm-up on cold starts.


Gone is the shuddering, growly cough and sluggish takeoff.

The revised seven-speed, twin clutch Automatic box gives wider gear spreads – the long gear ratios in the upper gears reduce fuel consumption, whilst the short gear ratios of the lower gears enhance performance.

And because it’s always-on all wheel drive, grip and handling are more what you’d expect in a hot hatch (0-100kph in 9 seconds) not a hulking SUV.

Inclement conditions like snow, ice or most likely floods, will pose no obstacle to this wagon.

A new electro-mechanical steering system replaces the old hydraulic gear giving a much more weighted feel at the wheel to this luxo barge.

And talking of luxury … our test car had wall-to-wall leather and also came with Drive Select giving you the option to change the dynamic of the vehicle by altering the steering, throttle response and the suspension (available as an option).

As brilliant as the Quattro is the favourite among Irish buyers is sure to the 2.0 TDi 143bhp 2WD versions which may cost a little less but could see you red-faced come the colder spells.

The only drawback is the really complicated collapsible spare wheel which has to be inflated at the side of the road before fitting.

That and Audi’s now legendary options list which our test car had almost €10,000 worth – including a very pricey €1,232 for metallic paint and €616 for colour co-ordinated bumpers.

Best to look at an options package (as mentioned above) which will incorporate a list of goodies.

As for the Range Rover Evoque …. I doubt Audi see it as a serious threat to sales.

In fact, forecasts suggest the 176,000 sold globally in 2011 should breach the 200,000 mark for 2013.

Prices for the Audi Q5 start at €40,395.