A peek into the Q5’s relaunched design

Despite the changes to the interiors and exterior of the car, things have not changed much

Audi has reintroduced the Q5 to its India line-up. The SUV arriving on our shores is the face-lifted model bringing with it some subtle cosmetic and equipment updates as compared to the old SUV. The biggest change though is under the bonnet. While the old Q5 came with the option of Audi’s smooth and refined diesel engines, the Q5 now is petrol only. So should it still be on your list?

Starting with the exterior, the updates are few and subtle. You will find new designs for the LED headlamps and tail-lamps, a wider, flatter, now-octagonal grille with aggressive brushed metal vertical slats, a metallic strip between the tail-lamps, new bumpers, and a bit of silver trim under the doors. They have also upped the wheel size from 18 to 19 inches, keeping with the segment trend, but the design is a bit too plain. Overall, the change is not dramatic, and this remains a sharp, tidy, albeit, safely-styled SUV.

Inside, the changes are fewer, with the only visible one being the move from an 8.3-inch infotainment screen to a 10.1-inch unit, a touchscreen interface, and Audi’s new generation MMI software. It is a cleaner UI that is smoother and unlike the more expensive Audis, you still get physical controls for the AC, which is welcome. The Virtual Cockpit digital dials are also updated, with higher-resolution imagery and slicker animation.

It also remains a practical luxury SUV, with a spacious back seat and a large, 550-litre boot. Just wish they added some USB ports for rear passengers too; all you get is a 12V socket. The cabin now uses piano black rather than conventional brown wood trim, and the features list gets the notable addition of a 19-speaker Bang &Olufsen sound system on the top Technology trim. It always was pretty well-equipped though, and returning this time are wireless phone charging, a panoramic sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, park assist, adaptive dampers and 8 airbags.

Moving to the engine, the 45 TFSI petrol is pretty impressive. The 2.0-litre unit produces 249hp (3hp down after the move to BS6) and 370Nm, both numbers that are par for the segment, and as before, it is all channelled via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox and Quattro AWD.

It is a smooth and refined experience, as before, with a good amount of punch when you need to get a move on. It is not as exciting as some rivals’ petrol engines, but the gearbox is quick to kick down, or respond to tugs at the paddles when you are in a hurry. The dual-clutch boxes, in regular auto mode, does not feel too clunky when you are plodding around at low speeds.

There are Drive Select modes, including Off-Road, which sets you in lower gears and auto-engages hill-descent control. With more than enough ground clearance, we were able to have a quick play with this setting on a broken path up and down a hill, and it performed admirably. Likely more important to owners, is that across the various ‘on road’ modes, the firmness of the dampers is also altered. This works well to add more control to body movements in corners, in Dynamic mode, but as before, sharp handling and aggressive driving is not the Q5’s thing. The steering is still a bit un-engaging for this to be an outright fun car. Incredibly, the ride quality, despite the move to larger wheels and lower profile tyres, remains excellent at any speed. It is nice and cushy at lower speeds, and even left in Comfort mode, endows the SUV with plenty of composure as you go faster.

Once the luxury market leader, Audi India’s shrunken model range over the last 18 months and the loss of diesel has put it at a disadvantage against its two main rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The Q5, however, heralds a turnaround for the brand, one that will be bolstered by the return of the Q7 and more mainstream models next year.

Yes, things have not changed much with this update to the Q5, but did they really need to? Our reviews of the older car praised it for being a jack of all trades (and a master of a few), and that seems to be the case once again. With prices ranging from ₹58.93 lakh to ₹63.77 lakh, Audi has also positioned its mid-size luxury SUV competitively with the rest of the segment. But, is this enough to put it back on the driveways of the Indian luxury SUV buyer? We have to wait and see.

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