2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Design Review

2018 Audi Q5 Design front three quarter

2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic design – $65,900 (plus on-roads)
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to German cars. Take the list price, add another 20 grand and then you’ll find what you actually have to pay. The reason? Options.

Yes, those little boxes that you tick to get what you really want can add up. The final tally shocks a lot of people. But finally Audi has realised that an entry level model doesn’t have to be void of any luxury.

2018 Audi Q5 Design rear three quarter

Meet the 2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Design, the German marque’s mid-sized SUV. Audi always supplies spec sheets with its cars, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that the only option it had been fitted with was the load space separator, at a reasonable $350. That’s it.

Seriously? It’s an Audi, though

Yeah, we know – strange. No premium paint, no high-end leather, no extra fripperies. This is a WYSIWYG car; it’s something that needs to happen more often.

2018 Audi Q5 Design front

Don’t think that it’s boring, though. With hewn-from-stone build quality, beautiful materials and plenty of space, the latest Q5 is a very nice machine to drive and to be driven in – with one caveat. But we’ll get to that soon.

From the outside, you get the sense of the “baby Q7” look the design team was going for. It looks wider and longer than the previous car, thanks to an increase of 34mm in length, but it’s actually the same width as the outgoing model. More importantly, it’s 6mm taller, and has a 12mm longer wheelbase, so there’s more room inside.

2018 Audi Q5 Design rear seats

Tell us about the interior

The seating across the back row is (just) enough for three adults, but driving four-up it’s very comfortable. The extra headroom and glass shape combine to make it feel a lot more spacious, and for a family with young children, there’s plenty of space.

Open the boot and you’re greeted with 550 litres of space, but models higher up the food chain can get a Comfort package which allows the second row to slide, meaning up to 610 litres. Still, you don’t feel like you’ve cheaped out by not getting the extra room.

2018 Audi Q5 Design cabin RHD

It’s a theme that runs to the equipment, too. The Q5 Design doesn’t get the fancy Virtual Cockpit of the higher grade models, but doesn’t look Scrooge-y as a result.

There’s still 18-inch alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with LED DRLs, LED tail lamps, dusk sensing lights and rain sensing wipers, leather seats, tri-zone climate control and keyless entry and start.

2018 Audi Q5 Design MMI screen

You can fold the rear seat 40/20/40, the eight-speaker audio system gets a CD player (how quaint), the Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is clear, there’s digital radio, sat-nav and Audi’s MMI interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

We love the infotainment system and its ease of use and intuitive layout, which now sets the standard for all to follow.

So, a great interior that’s well presented and feels premium. Job done. But now you have to drive it.

So, let’s get this Q5 on the road

Under the bonnet the 2.0 TDI makes a healthy 140kW and 400Nm, using 5.2L/100km. Not bad on paper, and in real world driving, it’s easy to hustle along and build speed. The diesel is also smooth and quiet, and works well with the seven speed DSG to give a drive experienced which is both relaxed but enjoyable.

2018 Audi Q5 Design centre console

It can hesitate a little off the line (a combination of turbo lag and DSG thinking time) but once rolling, the gearbox responds willingly and quickly.

The steering is well weighted and not too vague, thankfully, but true feel is lacking – not that anyone buying one of these really cares. It turns in crisply, and settles on its suspension well, providing a sure-footed feel. But the biggest problem is the ride.

2018 Audi Q5 Design boot space

Surely the ride’s not that bad, right?

Well, the Q5 is just too stiffly sprung, and while the dampers have good body control, it’s just too firm for the size of sidewall it has, and with coil suspension, there’s not a lot that can be done, even when changing drive modes. If softened slightly, it would really be a brilliant package.

The Q5 is safe, too, with AEB that has pedestrian detection (it works up to 85km/h), blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, eight airbags and an anti-dooring system that flashes LEDs in the door card if a cyclist is approaching from behind. Neat stuff.

2018 Audi Q5 Design side view

The Q5 Design has just about everything you need and want, and is priced well for a premium mid-size SUV. Fix the ride and it would be an even stronger contender. But at least you can leave the options boxes unticked and still feel like you’ve got value for money.

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2018 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Specifications

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 140kW @ 3800-4200rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1750-3000rpm
0-100kmh: 7.9 seconds
Fuel use: 5.3L/100km

Can you take the Audi Q5 offroad?

Definitely, but the ground clearance on the 2.0 TDI Design may be a drawback. Higher grade models with adjustable suspension will go a lot further, but on the beach the Q5 Design will do a decent job of getting you there and back. Don’t drive it into ruts that are too deep and you won’t have a problem.

About Karl Peskett 431 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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