THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: An all-new Ultra Quattro AWD System and refined interior luxury.
- What’s Worst: The 2.0 and 3.0 TDI engines will not be made available in Canada.
- What’s Interesting: The all-new 2018 Q5 will be assembled at Audi’s brand new state-of-the-art facility in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico.
SAN JOSE DEL CABOS, Mexico – It’s hard to believe that the Q5 has been with us since 2009 and, apart from a face-lift in 2013, there hasn’t been that much of a design change since its introduction.
Not that it really needed it, the Q5 has proved itself in the Audi stable with strong sales throughout its lifespan.
That being said Audi have introduced a brand new model for 2018.
Totally redesigned from the ground up, the second generation has been tasked with replacing Audi’s best selling original, but with new sporty exterior styling, upgraded interior sophistication and a very clever new AWD system the Q5 has certainly surpassed the already high standard set by its predecessor.
The 2018 Q5 is built on a stiffer modified MLB platform with very little changes to the over-all size of the vehicle; the wheelbase has been increased by 12 millimetres and overall body length by 34 mm.
The width and height remain the same. The interior passenger space stays relatively unchanged and the cargo area gains 10 litres bringing it up to 550 litres.
The Canadian model will come with a reworked turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine, but it has been tweaked to push out 252 hp and 273 lb/ft of torque.
It will now be linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, this will be the only engine choice for the Canadian market, but there are rumours that there will be a 345 hp, V6 engine available in the SQ5 later in 2017. Disappointingly, there will be no diesel engine choices available in Canada.
What makes the Q5 stand out from the crowd is the clever all-new Ultra Quattro AWD system. The vehicle, when driving in normal conditions, pushes 100 per cent of the power to the front wheels by means of two clutches.
An electronically controlled clutch mounted behind the transmission disengages the prop shaft and a second clutch opens up in the rear differential, allowing the rear wheels to free wheel – in effect turning the vehicle into 100 per cent front wheel drive.
What makes the system so different is its ability to predictively evaluate a combination of data input from steering angle, acceleration, engine torque, drivers style of driving, electronic stabilization Control (ESC) and uses the gathered information to determine when to engage the AWD system before it is needed.
When the system does engage the transfer of power is instantaneous, seamless and unnoticeable to the driver.
The interior is as classy and luxurious as you would expect of Audi, the chosen materials are as pleasant to the eye as they are to the touch.
The cockpit is as comfortable as it is functional, with the seats giving support where needed.
The Q5 comes with Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit, by showing an array of functions on a large screen on the dash directly behind the wheel giving the driver the ability to ingest more vehicle information without taking their eyes off the road ahead.
The screen can be customized to show the regular instrumentation or to display the navigation system with the speedometer and tachometer being downsized and moved to the corners of the display screen.
The Virtual cockpit eliminates further distraction by being controlled by buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
The improved infotainment system is displayed in a centrally located 8.3-inch, freestanding display. The screen looks like it should be a touch screen, but isn’t and is controlled by a touch pad that is easily accessed on the centre console.
The new Q5 will offer the usual electronic driver aids such as side and cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and may come equipped with traffic jam assist, a new feature that will take care of steering in slow moving traffic.
I have to state that the vehicle I drove wasn’t a Canadian spec Q5, however, it did come with the standard 2.0 litre engine and seven speed, dual-clutch transmission, but was equipped with the adaptive air suspension with continuous damper control that is also rumoured to be coming as part of the SQ5 package.
That aside the Q5’s agility and handling are still class leading both on and off road.
The addition of the Ultra Quattro System takes it to a new level ahead of the competition. It handled the twisting mountain roads with ease with very little body roll especially when pushing it into some of the tight bends.
Throttle response is crisp and effective with steering precise and reassuring, especially with some pretty dubious cornering techniques of the locals heading in the opposite direction.
The 2018 model has a really hard act to follow, but with the new styling, interior enhancements and electronic additions I am sure that Audi have hit the mark yet again with this latest model.
Audi Q5 2018
BODY STYLE: Five-seat, four- door compact luxury SUV.
DRIVE METHOD: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, Quattro all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre, I-4 turbocharged (252 hp, 273 lb/ft)
FUEL ECONOMY: Estimated combined fuel consumption 7.1 – 6.8 L/100 km.
CARGO: 550 litres (seats up)
TOW RATING: 2,000 kg
CURB WEIGHT: 1,760 kg
PRICE: $45,000 (Estimated)