What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Refined and powerful engine, comfortable ride, spacious interior and a big boot good for long drives
Why I would avoid it?
What is it?
The petrol version of the Q5 mid-sized luxury SUV, powered by a 248bhp 1,984cc four-cylinder petrol engine. The car was initially launched with a diesel variant only earlier this year, in January, which was also the first launch of the year for the manufacturer. Now, the carmaker has recently expanded its portfolio by adding this petrol trim as well. This one, too, comes in two trim levels - premium plus and technology. We tested the latter, using its top-of-the-line variant, to see if the newly added melody still makes for a good song.
In terms of looks, this petrol model is identical to its diesel sibling. So the changes made to the second generation Q5 are carried over. Up front, Audi's large, single frame hexagonal grille is prominent with new Matrix LED headlights that appear to merge into this grille. There's distinctive crease along the sides, a sloping roofline and proportionate wheels. The rear sports a new bumper with integrated quad exhaust tips and restyled LED tail lamps. Modern and simple, but not very striking. Nevertheless, this second-gen Q5 is a completely new car under the skin with a new MLB platform essentially for weight reduction.
How is it on the inside?
This petrol trim of the SUV imitates the diesel sibling so there is nothing new to report. It remains a spacious cabin with well-appointed features. The front seats are electrically operated to give you the perfect seating position and the low dashboard and large glass house ensures a good view of the surroundings. The beige upholstery and the large panoramic moon roof adds to the roomy and airy feel inside. What’s more, the rear seats are comfortable too with a slightly reclined angle. Its 40:20:20 split arrangement only makes for more space despite the large accommodating boot space of 510 litres.
Quality is top notch even if the somewhat traditional layout misses out on the long extending air-con vents like in the new A4. Still, the virtual cockpit system with loads of data looks fantastic and gives the interior a modern feel. The display isn't a touch screen and the MMI system isn't as fast the BMW's i-drive, but both function well with a few buttons and a new touchpad. This Q5 technology trim is loaded to the brim with features like automatic LED Matrix headlights, rain-sensing wipers, three-zone climate control, smartphone wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. On the safety front, eight airbags, cruise-control, speed limiter, hill-hold, TPMS etc. are standard. Furthermore, an electronic tail gate adds to the practicality. There's also a smart and effective parking assist with different cameras, but it’s still a shame that the car doesn't get keyless entry which has become a norm these days.
How does it drive?
Now to the most important change – the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol motor that powers the Q7 as well. In the Q5 however, this very silent and smooth powertrain comes mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission unlike the Q7’s eight-speed torque converter. Although there is a lag in the beginning until the turbo spools up, the engine feels quite alive post 2,200rpm. Also, the Q5 is lighter than the Q7, so the 370Nm of torque makes this Q5 feel even peppier than its elder sibling. At higher revs, it easily picks up pace and the gear shifts are quick and smooth too.
Having said that, let me now tell you about the six pre-set driving modes (off-road, efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual) that suit different driving requirements altering the engine and gearbox response, damping and even the steering feedback. As the name suggests, the efficiency mode with mild responses offers the best fuel efficiency. The comfort mode gets more responsive and one instantly notices the way the car gets off the mark quicker than in the efficiency mode. The auto mode learns, alters and sets the parameters according to the driving style. In the Dynamic mode, it holds lower gears for longer before upshifting. It feels a bit jerky here and will induce a bit of the head nod especially with gear shifts using paddle-shifters. Nonetheless, the shifts are quick and help keep the engine in the meat of the power band. So this makes it ideal for those looking at maximum performance. On the other hand, the individual mode is customisable where the characteristics can be toggled between dynamic and comfort.
Sure, the engine and gearbox are impressive, but the steering couldn’t provide enough feedback to keep me engaged. It’s nice and light for city driving in comfort mode, however, even if it weighs up in the dynamic mode it didn’t keep me entertained while attacking corners. That said, the car feels composed and doesn’t display a lot of body roll. The Quattro system precisely sends power to all the wheels, brakes have a good bite and the Michelins provide adequate grip even in wet conditions. The Q5 provides an excellent ride quality, especially in the comfort mode, where it skirted the battered monsoon roads with ease, both while driving slowly and at high speeds. However this translated into some vertical movements during those long, undulated highway stretches. Nonetheless, this was minimised with the dynamic setting firming up the suspension. And although the Q5 is a soft-roader, the off-road mode provided enough traction with control over ESP and power delivery. So for some of those adventurous expeditions, the Q5 will do just as well with its 18-inch wheels and 200mm of ground clearance, which help the SUV stand tall over most bad patches in its pathway.
Should I buy one?
Despite being a mid-sized SUV, the petrol Q5 provides a great combination of comfort, practical features, speed and performance. I don’t really consider this to be a very stylish vehicle, so I won’t call it a GT car. But, then again, looks are subjective and it really has the potential to tick all other boxes here. Eventually, even if its on-road pricing (Rs 70.79 lakhs) falls on to the expensive side than its competitors, it’s worth the money spent on such a potent, comfortable, practical and luxurious vehicle.
Where does it fit in?
Since the Volvo XC60 doesn't have a petrol trim yet, this Q5 is a rival to the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 (Rs 63.29 lakhs) and the BMW X3 xDrive30i (Rs 67.38 lakhs) in the Indian market.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi