It was only a matter of time before Audi got into the hottest current vehicle segment. The Q5 compact SUV follows the likes of the Mercedes GLK and BMW X3 in its mission to combine a sportiness, economy, and utility in one package. Powered by the same V-6 engine found in many of Audi's passenger cars, the Q5 comes with a payload of new Audi cabin technology, including the third-generation MMI interface and a new hard-drive based navigation system with real-time traffic information.
In profile, the Q5 differentiates itself from the contrast to the flabby Q7 full-size SUV, with a sharper front end and more ergonomic lines. For the U.S. market the Q5 will come with standard 18-inch--and optional 20-inch--lightweight forged wheels.
From the front, a single-frame grille gives the Q5 the same bold face (or yawning expression, depending on your perspective) as other modern Audis. A sleek pair of headlights serve to add a dynamic element.
The Q5 will be offered in the USA with a single engine choice in the shape of a 3.2 direct-injection V-6 producing 265 horsepower and 243 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed Tiptronic transmission transfers the power to pavement and Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system comes as standard.
The Q5 comes with an in-dash LCD screen standard, but navigation remains an optional extra. The model is the first to come with Audi's hard-disc drive-based navigation system, which features real time traffic information.
According to Audi, the Q5's styling combines "sporty elegance and artfully sculpted forms." With a longer wheel base and a wider stance than the BMW X3, and a drag coefficient of 0.33, the Q5 is "sportier than any of its competitors," according to its designers.
The introduction of the Q5 comes a year after the unveiling of the Cross Coupe Quattro concept unveiled at last year's Shanghai Auto show. While the body styling of the prototype is clearly visible in the Q5, the dual-view monitor, touch pad MMI interface and folding roof of the concept car did not make it to production.
The Q5 will be available with a 505-watt, 14-speaker sound system from Bang & Olufsen. Other technology options include Bluetooth hands-free calling, an iPod interface, and a hard-drive based media storage system for MP3 audio files.