WHEN a car has been top of the tree and the best seller in its sector it might seem a problem for its maker's designers and engineers to come up with a follow-up that's even better in terms of looks, driveability, on-board gizmos and sheer quality of comfort.
But for Audi and its backroom team it seems not to have been a problem.
The new Q5 mid-sized Sports Utility Vehicle goes on sale later this month with so many all round improvements it looks destined to carrying on being top dog.
Up against more than half a dozen strong rivals in the premium SUV sector, the new Q5 may not look too much different from its predecessor at first glance but elsewhere major improvements have been made inside and underneath.
For starters the new Q5 is on average 90kg lighter than the original 2008 model, thanks mainly to more use of aluminium and a steel composite body shell, there's revised suspension and combined these changes make it an even better handling car and also help provide a better ride.
Based on what Audi calls its newer MLLB platform, already seen on the A4 saloon and the bigger Q7 SUV, the latest Q5 has a host of new technology including a variety of drive assist system along with more fuel efficient petrol and diesel engines that also offer improved performance.
Inside there's more space, certainly increased head and knee room in the back seats, with again subtle smartening up of some of the furnishings and fittings. The seats now give even better lumbar support to both driver and passengers.
To top it all there's an option list as long as your arm with such a wide choice so every Q5 buyer can make his or her car distinctive and moudled to their individual choice - even though some of the extras can be on the expensive side.
Talking of money, and with so much more fitted to the car, the new Q5 is dearer than before with the entry-level model 2.0 TDI 187bhp diesel SE coming in at £37,240 - a rise of more than £5,000 - with the range topping SQS 3.0 V6 TFSI 249bhp petrol, due in June, at £51,200.
Initially there are two engines (the 187bhp diesel and a 2.0-litre 248bhp petrol) and three trim levels available with SE, Sport and S Line and all have Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system on board but now the rear part of the transmission only comes into play when the box of electronics on board decrees.
Apart from its improved ride the now reworked seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox is one of the car's highlights. It's a joy to use with effortless, quick responses up and down the box.
The driver too will easily find a comfortable seating position with plenty of adjustments available and more importantly this time around, the three-spoke steering wheel is straight in the middle and not offset as before in some Audis. The car's high window line makes for good, all round vision.
With improved leg and headroom three adults can sit comfortably in the back while luggage space has been increased by around 10 per cent. There's wider access to the boot which, with the rear seats folded provides 1.8 metres of load length.
For the driver, all the buttons, switches and Audi's Multi-Media Interface are sensibly positioned, easy to operate and can be linked to Audi's Virtual Cockpit graphical instrument display.
The overall quality of trim and refinement in the cabin is of an exceptionally high level - certainly the best in this class in my book.
Out on the road the car's ride is agile thanks to much improved five-link independent suspension.
Drivers can choose from two extension stages of springs and damping while Audi's drive select system gives seven driving modes including an off-road mode.
As for the choice of engines that's down to individual choice but in my book the 187bhp diesel is the better option. For a start it's exceptionally quiet, so much so that you'd hardly know there was a diesel engine under the bonnet.
Combined with such an excellent automatic gearbox this model is a most refined and competent performer with quick acceleration when needed, noticeable at mid-range speed for overtaking. It's easy to see why this engine is expected to be the biggest seller.
With a 0 to 62mph acceleration of 7.9 seconds and capable of returning a combined 55.4mpg on 19-inch wheels it's an obvious choice. Emissions are rated at 133g/km.
The new Q5 is up against some stiff opposition such a the ageing BMW X3, Jaguar's F-Pace, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo's XC60 and the Range Rover Discovery Sport but first impressions are that Audi will continue to rule the roost in the mid-sized SUV market.