The Q5’s success speaks for itself and now Audi, the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer, is launching a new version with a few subtle modifications to the body. This marks the start of a series of technical modifications for the 2013 model-year.
The esthetic changes made to Audi’s best-seller aren’t exactly obvious: there are new headlights and new LED taillights, the exhaust and rear diffuser have been revised and the front grille features new vertical bands – and that about does it. Same goes for the passenger compartment, where the brand’s regulars will easily find their bearings among the new chrome buttons and more user-friendly interface for the MMI (Multi Media Interface) data display system that now has four control buttons. The new Q5 also marks a progression in terms of active safety with the addition of an active cruise control with integrated radar, a lane departure warning system and even fatigue detection that encourages the driver to take a break.
Major changes under the hood!
The most significant changes are of a mechanical nature with the debut of a third generation of the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that now develops 225 horses and 258 lbs-ft of torque thanks to variable exhaust and intake valve timing system. Paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, this engine delivers more than adequate performances with a 7.1-second 0-100 km/hr time. The 3.0-litre V6 (already seen in the Q7) is also available, and it shaves more than a second off the 0-100 time with its 272 horses and 295 lbs-ft of torque.
The third available engine for the Q5 marks the beginning of Audi’s hybrid era in North America. It’s a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine married to an electric motor supplied by lithium-ion batteries for a total power of 245 horses and 354 lbs-ft of torque. Note that this hybrid engine can bring the Q5 up to 100 km/hr exclusively in electric mode, but the “zero emission” range is limited to a mere three kilometres. And according to Audi, its average fuel consumption is 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres (European version).
The SQ5 TDI: A rare gem
Thus, the 2013 Q5 will arrive at Canadian Audi dealerships with three engine choices, but another version is in the works for 2014. The SQ5 TDI, as its name indicates, is a sportier version powered by a 3.0-litre turbodiesel that features 313 horses and 480 lbs-ft of torque. This engine’s performances are absolutely remarkable and help put the Q5 in the running with certain thoroughbred sports cars, with its 5.1-second 0-100 km/hr time – a result of an enormous amount of torque available at 1,450 rpm. As a bonus, it makes a nice, deep sound, which is somewhat unusual for a diesel engine and is thanks to a shutter in the exhaust system.
On the road, the SQ5 TDI is a marvel. Both its acceleration and pick-up are impressive and the handling is a little better thanks to the oversized tires (factory standard 20-inch rims or optional 21-inch rims), higher performance brakes (380-millimetre discs), a more firmly calibrated suspension and a base that’s 30 millimetres lower. Although the SQ5 TDI accelerates with remarkable balance and is more dynamic overall, the centre of gravity is still high so you’ll have to keep that in mind in sport driving conditions. An iron fist in a velvet glove: Don’t expect power to be delivered with finesse; it comes through with commanding thrust, reminding us that diesel and performance not mutually exclusive concepts.