Taking the best of Q7 and shrinking it down
Audi's Q5 is a big seller in the United States. It comprises some 26 percent of sales, and it's only going to grow as both the luxury and crossover markets explode with demand. And now is the perfect time to build on that success with the release of the all-new 2018 Q5.
The Q5 borrows a great deal from its bigger brother, the Q7. Its look is far more straight-edged and wagon-like than before, with a strong shoulder line and angular lights front and rear. Certain Audi hallmarks remain, like the tailgate that wraps around the rear pillars. In person, it's damned handsome, and it's very obvious that Q7 will set the stage for all future Audi crossovers.
Inside, it's the same story. Everything's a bit more angular, even the steering wheel, which comes standard with multifunction controls. The dashboard can be outfitted with Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the gauges with a configurable screen. The center console sports the Q7's touchpad, which can be used for handwriting recognition. Everything's tilted slightly toward the driver, to remind everyone who's in charge.
There will be two variants to start (and probably to finish) in the US. The standard Q5 will come with a 252-horsepower, 273-pound-foot, four-cylinder engine. That one mates to a seven-speed dual-clutch, which features both quicker shifts and smoother transitions, the latter of which is thanks to a new dual-mass flywheel.
If power is the cure for what ails you, the SQ5 is a solid dose of medicine. This mack daddy puts out 354 horsepower and 369 torques, sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Both cars feature a revised version of Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive, which can decouple the rear axle when it isn't needed, aiding efficiency.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new Audi without a complement of safety systems, and the Q5 does not disappoint in that regard. Driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, autonomous emergency braking and even a system that warns you if you open a car door into traffic. Bicyclists will appreciate that last one.
Unlike before, there's no waiting around for the SQ5 to debut years after the Q5. Both models should be arriving in dealerships in early 2017, and pricing has not yet been announced.