Audi Q5

Audi joined the SUV/crossover party very late when it launched the Q7 a few years back, so the company was not able to fully reap the rewards of the boom period that other manufacturers enjoyed. However, when you enter a segment late you are able to benefit from the hits and minimize the misses that were suffered by those who went before you.

This is not to say that the new Q5 crossover is a copycat or clone vehicle, quite the contrary. I tested Audi’s small crossover and discovered that a lot of the Q7’s charms have been shared with the smaller, nimble Q5.

The Q5 is a crossover based on the A4 car platform. It shares a production line with the A4 and A4 Avant, but the Q5 is taller, longer and wider than its sedan cousins.

The size/dimensions really come into play if you park a Q5 next to a Q7. The Q7 has a shape akin to a short loaf of bread while the Q5 looks like a slightly enlarged kaiser roll. The dimensions alone indicate that the Q5 is an all-new proposition.

Measuring 15.19 feet long and 6.17 feet wide, with a height of just 5.4 feet, casual observers may view the Q5 as a pumped up wagon, but the Q5 is more. Audi wants you to think of it as an SUV/crossover with “sporty elegance” that is able to do some off-roading when required.

The Q5’s drivetrain is a one-choice-fitsall combination with a 3.2-liter FSI directinjection six-cylinder engine and a smoothshifting six-speed Tiptronic automatic and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The Q5’s six-cylinder produces 270 horsepower and 243 pounds-feet of torque. Audi lists city/highway/combined fuel economy at 18/23/20 respectively. I managed about 19 mpg combined, but I had on my heavy shoes the week of the test drive.

The Q5’s front end is dominated by the familiar Audi headlights and the signature Audi single-frame grille. My test vehicle came with optional bi-xenon lamps and LED daytime running lights. Viewed from the side, the large wheels and creased edges are especially prominent features. Crowned by a railing, the elegant slope of the roof underscores the slim, coupelike styling. The rear features a wraparound aluminum tailgate – same as the hood. Overall, I liked the styling – it looks contemporary, crisp and upscale – especially with the handsome 18-inch wheels and fatty tires.

Audi has a well-deserved reputation for designing premium interiors with a high level of fit and finish. The Q5’s plush cabin includes a driver-oriented cockpit that has an upright sitting position for a command view. The seats were a tad on the firm side, but not uncomfortable. I like how Audi accented the fine leather seating surfaces with real trim pieces, including aluminum, exclusive woods, chrome and Alcantara.

The Audi Q5 comes standard with an electromechanical parking brake, an intelligent chip key, three-zone climate control system and a display screen in the instrument cluster with a nanny function that indicates the recommended gear for efficient driving in any given situation – thanks Audi.