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The new Audi Q5 is no mere upgrade; it comes across as a substantially superior SUV. We test-drove it recently

Audi have gone the full mile while upgrading the new Q5. While most facelifts introduced in our market feature superficial changes, this popular compact SUV, which already offered class-leading refinement, has now become an even more superior offering than its predecessor.

The credit for this goes to the re-worked engine and suspension along with spruced-up interior and exterior, which has added to the overall appeal.

The Q5 retains the attractive silhouette, even with the revised flat roof-arch and appears to be sharper now. Look closely and you’ll notice minor tweaks that add to the sporty elements, such as the single-frame grille, which now has angular top corners, deeper vertical chrome struts and Audi rings, altogether working to give the Q5 a fresh face. The optional Xenon headlights now also get a continuous strip of LED daytime running lights around the edge, while the tail-lights also get a similar treatment. However, unlike the international model, the Indian edition retains the previous generation’s front bumper design, with flared fog-lamp console and air-intakes and good looking chrome protective shield under the front and rear bumpers. The other visible difference from the European model is the black strip of skirting that runs along the lower body of this SUV.

_MG_7082 as Smart Object-1One of the important factors that draws car-buyers towards the Audi brand is the German giant’s in-cabin craftsmanship and fine choice of material, which set a benchmark in their respective segments. The Ingolstadt-based manufacturers have given the new Q5 several refinements in the interior design, which has taken it to another level. New colours and material have been used like the decorative inlays in walnut brown, sleeker chrome rings on controls and the centre console panels that have been styled in high gloss, which reflect their workmanship. Even the MMI navigation with a 6.5-inch display looks neater with just four control keys. The large media centre has been improved in many respects, including its voice control functionality. Some useful changes include re-worked seats that offer excellent support and come especially handy during long hours of driving, as they help in keeping fatigue away. And, yes, you can actually seat five adults with ease, which remains an important consideration in our country.

The cabin feels more spacious and offers great storage space of 540 litres, which can be expanded to 1,560 litres by folding the seats. The large external rear-view mirrors offer great rear visibility, but an individual of a small build might add to the blind spot, which, however, can be reduce if the driver’s seat is raised appropriately.

Audi have also made the car a shade lighter than the outgoing model and even included a new electro-mechanical power steering, in a four-spoke version for India. The system no longer needs any energy for steering in straight line driving, which helps efficiency. The new seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission is integrated into the engine’s thermal management system, so it shortens the warm-up phase. The instinctive S tronic not only aids performance, but also improves the fuel economy by over 15 per cent. The new Q5 delivers an impressive 11.5 km/l in the city and 17 km/l on the highway, which adds up to a respectable overall average of 12.8 km/l.

Audi-Q5_AUnder the hood of our test vehicle was Audi’s trusted 2.0 TDI with power output figures of 179 PS and 380 Nm. The first thing that you notice after cranking up the engine is that now it is substantially quieter as the refinement and the car’s noise-damping have been improved immensely. For a diesel motor it has extremely low noise, vibration and harshness and can be mistaken for a petrol engine. This refinement also spills over in terms of performance, as the able soft-roader responds almost immediately when you spur it on, with hardly any turbo lag.

The S tronic strums on the power-band, with sufficient surge always at your disposal. This reflects in the improved kick-down figures as the Q5 has become more responsive and driveable. In fact, the performance test figures show improvement in every aspect:  from the quarter mile run to braking or outright acceleration. The 2013 Q5 takes just 9.60 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h, straight away knocking off two seconds from the outgoing model’s performance time. The combination of a potent engine like this four-cylinder and the intelligent gearbox bring the best of both the worlds to your feet, quite literally.

The steering feels light at low speeds and gradually weighs up as the car gains speed. If you have driven the older Q5, you will notice the reduced unsprung weight as the SUV feels a lot more agile as you swerve through traffic and around corners. Also very impressive is the improved ride quality as Audi have tuned the springs, shock-absorbers and stabilisers for a more balanced chassis. Helping the cause is the ESC (electronic stabilisation control), a system that detects the road condition and adjusts the suspension settings accordingly. Permanent quattro with torque vectoring and hill descent come as standard, which help you venture to places most others wouldn’t dare to. It is an SUV, after all.

The Q5 undoubtedly is one of the better looking SUVs available in our country and its compact proportions make it more adaptable to our surroundings. One has to shell out Rs 52 lakh for this five-seater SUV, which is rather steep. But if your budget permits, then the 2013 Q5 makes a compelling buy now with the enhanced performance, quality and luxury it offers.

Story: Sarmad Kadiri
Photography: Sanjay Raikar


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