Audi Q5 2.0 TDI SE

November 2008

picture of car from the front

The Q5 shares traditional Audi styling cues


Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 9Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


  • Manageable size but lots of road presence
  • Usual excellent Audi build quality
  • Wonderfully refined on-road experience
  • 2.0 diesel engine is smooth and progressive


  • Expensive once options are added
  • Narrow rear bench
  • Annoying footrest position in manual version
  • Fussy centre console feels over-laden

Large SUVs are declining in popularity but drivers having fallen for the charms of four-wheel drive and high-rise driving positions. As a result, manufacturers are introducing smaller SUVs that are less conspicuous but equally pleasant to drive. The Q5 is Audi's first compact SUV incorporating elements from both its road cars and large Q7 SUV.

The compact SUV segment is growing rapidly, with several manufacturers having recently ventured into an arena in which they had not previously had a presence. Audi's Q5 is part of the German manufacturer's ongoing project to bring 40 models to market and is the first compact SUV in its history.

Considerably smaller than the seven-seater Q7 SUV, the Q5 is designed to be easier to use around town and to leave a smaller environmental footprint but not lack the presence or the benefits of SUV driving. Combining the lofty position, Quattro four-wheel drive and long body of the Q7 with the sleek interior and responsive driving position of the Audi car range, the model fills an important gap in the line-up.

Powered by a choice of 2.0-litre TFSI petrol, 2.0-litre TDI or 3.0-litre TDI diesel engines, the Q5 range is certainly not underpowered. The 2.0-litre diesel is likely to be the most popular choice in the UK market. It is the only choice available with a manual six-speed gearbox; the others featuring the first twin-clutch unit in the segment in the shape of the seven-speed S-Tronic.

A showcase for some high level equipment, the Q5 features an intelligent ESP system that can detect additional risks such as a laden roof rack or a loose surface under-wheel. Audi Drive Select also allows the driver to fine-tune the driving and handling characteristics, although the system can be relied on to automatically offer the best set-up in tune with the driving conditions.

Our verdict on the Audi Q5 2.0 TDI SE

An attractive executive compact SUV that offers an excellent combination of practicality, safety and ease of use, the Q5 is a fine example of what the segment has to offer. Its premium pricing will be the restricting factor for many otherwise keen customers, but there's little denying its position as a premium product. Well-crafted and extremely refined, it's a pleasure to drive.

Costs rating 8

Basic prices for the Q5 are not cheap and adding options can quickly see the purchase price escalate. Insurance should not be too expensive and fuel efficiency has been maximised to reduce running costs. Impressive residual values have also been predicted, ensuring a reasonable return.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

There's no shortage of head or leg room in the Q5 but, because of the narrow interior and the transmission tunnel that bulges from the floor, the rear bench is unlikely to seat three adults in comfort. The boot is large and adaptable with folding and sliding rear seats and the model's four-wheel drive and impressive towing capacity offer greater practicality, too.

picture of car from the rear

A wide boot door aids practicality

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The Q5 adopts the traditional Audi approach to the controls layout, which is mostly intuitive and easy to use. Dials are large and figures easy to read on the colour screens. If specified with the Audi MMI system the centre console and transmission tunnel has the potential to get a little clustered with buttons, knobs and controls, but once familiar with the various functions it quickly becomes second nature. Light steering and a slick gear change are bonuses. However, for the manual model, the raised footrest next to the clutch pedal can be annoying.

Comfort Rating 9

Comfort is one of the Q5's aces, offering a cosseting ride that's extremely refined even in the diesel engined models. A well equipped interior, including climate control air-con, means both front and rear occupants should be able to get comfortable. Seats are supportive and well-cushioned, with the exception of the thin centre rear seat, which is firmer than the others.

Car security
Security Rating 8

Naturally, for a prestige vehicle such as the Q5, a Category one approved alarm and immobiliser are standard. Items kept in the boot can be shielded from view with a rolling parcel shelf and there's additional covered storage in the cabin.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The Q5 is big on both passive and active safety with copious airbags and collapsible elements to the body. Even more advanced is the intelligent ESP that can adjust to on and off-road driving and sense when the roof rails are loaded and the risk of roll-over is increased. Hill descent also enables safe descending. Auto-dimming headlights are another area of safety innovation.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

Although not a sporty vehicle, the Q5 drives with a great deal of assurance and competence in a variety of conditions. There's limited body roll, excellent grip from the Quattro four-wheel drive system and responsive steering and brakes. The 2.0 TDI unit is extremely impressive, delivering progressive and lag-free performance. Although more suited to the road than the track, the Q5 is reasonably capable off-road, too.

picture of car interior

Interiors are luxurious and well crafted

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

The Q5 would make an excellent family vehicle while doubling as a suitably upmarket business drive. The rear will comfortably seat three children and there's room for plenty of luggage. Strong safety features will also make it a popular choice among parents.

First car appeal
First car Rating 4

The Q5 will be too expensive and large for the vast majority of young drivers and first time new car buyers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

Audi's stock has been on the rise for some time, with the German manufacturer considered among the best for build quality and driving dynamics. The Q5 ought to continue that trend with its near faultless execution. Considerably smaller than the eco-baiting Q7 it's also a less contentious choice for drivers worried about the image of SUVs. Exterior and interior build qualities are superb and the vehicle has both kerb appeal and road presence.

Accessibility Rating

The Q5 has few issues with accessibility, with a tall body, large doors and impressive ride height. The full width rear tailgate, which opens and closes automatically if specified, also allows generous ingress for the boot.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Music fans can upgrade the single slot CD player and radio system to Audi MMI system with sat-nav, reversing camera and a comprehensive music system with space for thousands of songs on a hard drive. There's also the option of iPod connectivity and SD card readers. It's not cheap, but it is an impressive system and easy to navigate using central and wheel-mounted controls. Sound quality is great through the standard 10-speaker system, but there's a Bang and Olufsen upgrade for aficionados. The picture on the colour screen is crystal clear.

picture of car in detail

Practicality is a key element

Colours and trim

As with the majority of Audi's models, the executive stylings lend themselves to blacks and silvers in terms of exterior colour choices. Body coloured bumpers and mirrors plus aluminium exterior trim are standard kit on the SE. Inside, high quality leather is present and a choice of wood or metallic effect trim is available across the range.


The Q5 is not a small vehicle, but it is a very manageable shape and has a good turning circle. Parking sensors are standard and obviously help as does the optional rear view camera. Visibility is good thanks to the large windows and high driving position, and the mirrors are a good size and fold in.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (208bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (167bhp); 3.0-litre (236bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed S-Tronic twin clutch automatic gearbox with manual over-ride. Trim levels: Standard, SE, S-Line.


Alternative cars

BMW X3 Desirable badge but less impressive on road

Volvo XC60 Attractive exterior and strong diesel engines

Volkswagen Tiguan Competent on-road, strong build quality

Nissan Qashqai Similarly car-like handling, much cheaper

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November 2008