Sharper Q5 gives

Audi an edge

Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, front, action
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, side, action
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, rear, action
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, rear
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, boot
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, virtual cockpit, instrument panel
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, rear seats
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, interior
Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, 2017, engine

YOU could easily walk past the latest Audi Q5 in a car park without realising that it's the brand spanking new version.

Certainly, it has sharper angles, it's more sculptured and somehow tidier but the shape is very much the same as it was when it first appeared back in 2008.

This belies the basic truth that the 2017 model is new from the ground up - quite literally - and the five door body has been put on a heavy weight loss programme to shed around 95kg, that's the size of a robust six-foot tall man.

Major beneficiaries of the redesign to one of Audi's most successful models are fuel economy and performance. But for enthusiastic drivers its new-found dexterity and dynamic handling will hold equal appeal.

Whereas the previous Q5 was a blunt instrument that handled safely and securely, the new model has a spring in its step, sharper responses and an eagerness to hurry through curves.

On a practical note, it is marginally, taller and longer, though slightly more narrow.

Dimensionally, the biggest changes is a 20mm longer wheelbase which improves rear legroom and boosts luggage space to 550 litres with rear seats up and 1,550 litres with them folded, among the best in class.

It also happens to be cleaner through the air with a drag coefficient of 0.30.

All Q5 models are quattro four-wheel-drive and there will be an array of diesel and petrol versions, starting at £37,150 with the 2.0 diesel, 187bhp engine.

The other model available at launch is the 2.0 TFSI turbo petrol version which packs 247bhp and the version I am concentrating on here.

With the political pendulum swinging against diesel power, it is likely the TFSI will gain ground thanks to its attractive blend of performance and frugality.

The engine first...the punchy four cylinder turbo is crisp and responsive with an audible and appealing snarl under full throttle that relaxes into a distant hum at cruising speeds.

Coupled with the seven speed S tronic automatic gearbox, progress is swift and impressively tranquil. The benchmark 62mph comes up in just over six seconds, so it's quick even by three-litre standards.

It might not be as economical as the comparatively sized diesel buy with emissions of 159g/km and a combined mpg of 40.9 it compares well with rivals petrol SUVs of the same size.

Unlike the original Q5, which could be a shade cumbersome if hurried along a twisty road, the new model carries its slimmed down weight well, rolls very little and answers quickly and precisely to the helm although feedback from the road is limited. Bumps are ironed out almost without trace and the car's general composure is first class.

The car was fitted with air suspension, a £2,000 extra, which adds to its dynamism. However, I managed to briefly try a model with the standard set-up and also found it pleasing and comfortable so those on a tighter budget are unlikely to be disappointed in their purchase.

As with most Audis, the cabin is a place of comfort and efficiency with high grade plastics, easy-to-read. Leather heated front seats, power tailgate, cruise control, and 180 watt sound system with 10 loud speakers are standard in all models.

The Sport version also gets a seven-inch sat nav screen, and sports electric front seats. Price of the TFSI quattro S Line is £40,170.

Audi's well publicised and excellent ‘virtual cockpit' is a £250 extra that few buyers will be able to resist.

Beautifully engineered and fitted out, the latest Q5 is now hugely satisfying to drive, meaning a missing part of the jigsaw has been found.

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