A smooth SUV for the modern era.
The Q5 has been one of the most popular compact premium SUVs in the region, and for a good reason too. Or multiple reasons, as is the case, what with decent looks, comfortable size (without being overly large like the Q7) and acceptably sporty performance. And while the new Q5 looks similar to when it was launched 4 years ago, a whole lot has changed for the 2013 model.
Sure, there have been some basic changes to bring the Q5 in line with other modern Audis, but nothing remarkable. There’s the slick daytime running LED strip on the headlamps, the dark grill where the fog lights are housed has a more downward sloping, aggressive look. The main front grill looks like a single piece from top to bottom thanks to the chrome highlights and the thick outline.
The rear and side remains exactly the same, except for some minor highlights added to the tail lamps. Of course, there are the 20-inch 5-spoked rims which come basic, while our tester came with the S-line package that added the ‘S-line’ logos and branding to the front arches, door steps and dash.
We’re sort of in the middle of the Q5’s lifecycle, so while it’s still got nice looks, compared to Audi’s recent sedans, especially the new A6 and A4, the Q5 looks downright outdated.
Inside we have the typical Audi feel of quality components presented in precise quantities and luxury. The Q5 has a subdued interior, black and silver in our tester unit with the full options interior ambience lighting (red glow in door handles and foot rest areas). It’s really sublime, especially at night when the red backlight comes on the silver interior gets a nice saturation against the black leather as you’re passing under the street lights.
The front seats are completely adjustable, electronically, including backrest and lumbar support, although the latter is not as pronounced as I’ve seen in other Audis. Ample legroom comes up front with the rear being respectably sufficient. Storage space is also very generous in the back with easy operation thanks to the powered boot.
The one thing I found sorely disappointing was the Audi multimedia system. A low resolution screen with limited colors and no way to connect my iPhone 5’s audio over Bluetooth left a sour taste. The extremely outdated multimedia system, which in our tester didn’t come with navigation either, especially stands out as a poor design choice given how brilliant every other aspect of the Q5 is.
I was told that despite having the same overall build as the previous year, the 2013 Q5 is internally marked as a PI (Performance Improvement) edition. In this case the 2.0-lter Turbocharged engine has a massive performance boost with 225HP @ 4,500 – 6,250RPM and an extremely impressive 400Nm torque @ 1,500 – 4,500RPM. Comparatively last year’s model made 225HP and 350Nm of torque. The new performance boost is good enough to give the Q5 a respectable acceleration from 0 to 100kmph of 7.1 seconds.
Despite its size and almost 1.9-ton weight, the Q5 is extremely nimble on the road. The steering wheel is butter smooth to use with minimal force required, making it one of the smoothest 4x4s on the road. However, not everyone will like the power steering on the Q5, perhaps going so far as to say it has a detached feeling, but in my driving experience it felt really nice. Sure, you’re not going to get the type of surface-to-wheel feel you get in Audi’s other performance cars, but for being a luxury SUV, the Q5 excels at comfort.
The best part, however, is that apart from the performance bump, fuel efficiency has also improved significantly. The 2.0T Q5 gives an extremely impressive 7.1L/ 100km fuel economy, and in the 135km I drove the Q5, with mostly city driving and aggressive acceleration, the fuel tank was just a hair’s breadth down from full, still showing 660km left!
When you consider other luxury SUVs in this segment, the 2013 Audi Q5 may not look the most modern one of the lot, but it definitely has the punchiest performance, smoothest ride and arguably the best fuel efficiency. And with 5 years or 105,000km service package included in the price, the 2013 Audi Q5 is one of the best compact luxury SUVs in the market right now.