Beijing 2008: Officially Official - It's the 2009 Audi Q5

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For months now we've seen spy photos and heard speculation about Audi's new Q5 CUV. Now, we finally have the official news on the latest entry from Ingolstadt. Unlike its big brother the Q7, the Q5 doesn't share an architecture with a VW model. The Q5 utilizes the same underpinnings as the A5 coupe and A4 sedan/wagon. That means the Q5 has a longitudinally mounted engine rather than the transverse powerplant found in the smaller VW Tiguan.

While we were in Germany to drive the new A4, Audi invited us into their design center in Ingolstadt to check out their new virtual reality design system and have a look at the Q5 in the metal, prior to its official coming out party in Beijing. Compared to the Q7, the Q5 looks substantially more compact than its hefty sibling and is much tidier design overall, keeping with Audi's current pretensions of being a premium sporting brand. In fact the Q5 falls right in the heart of the premium mid-size CUV segment. Learn more about the Q5 design after the jump

[Source: Audi]

The Q5 bears a strong family resemblance to the A4 Avant, while at same time being distinct. When Audi designers were discussing the rationale behind the styling, they began with the beltline that's found on all the newest four-ringed offerings. In Audi's design language, that beltline crease is referred to as the "Tornado Line". While it is a common element to recent Audi designs, it is slightly different on each. On the A5 coupe, the line sticks out slightly from the body and has a more pronounced curvature over the wheels. On the A4 there is a slight overhang with the upper body work being further out than the metal below it and more of straight shot from front to back. The Q5 has more of the curvature of the A5, but the tornado line fades out as it crosses the door panels and then resumes ahead of the rear wheel.

The Q5 diverges again from its siblings by having a second, more subtle, accent line that starts at the cut-line of the hood and stretches along the sides just below the side glass, eventually wrapping upward around the rear quarter window in a manner similar to the Saab 9-4x, but in a less pronounced way. Compared to the A4 Avant, the shape of the side glass is similar, but the with slightly different proportions. On the crossover, the greenhouse is taller, but foreshortened. This is most noticeable in the rear quarter window which has a similar shape to the A4, but with a forward sloping trailing edge that isn't as long. Further down the lower edge is a darker colored rocker panel to help reduce the visual impression of height. At the rear, there's a subtle diffuser-like panel under the bumper which appears to me merely cosmetic. The taillights taper toward the center of the tailgate like the A4, and the lower edge follows the cut-line of the rear bumper cover and goes into the upper edge of the license plate cavity.

Overall, the Q5 is comparable in size to an Infiniti EX, BMW X3 or Acura RDX, with the proportions and interior volume more similar to the Acura than the other two. The Acura has a six-inch shorter wheelbase, but that mostly seems to be manifested in a longer front overhang rather than interior volume. The Infiniti EX35, on the other hand, is within a half-inch of the Q5's wheelbase, but has virtually no rear leg room. The Audi appears to have substantially more for occupants in both rows (with the exception of the the center rear passenger). The rear seats also have an angle adjustment for the seat backs.

The roof-line has a subtle downward slope toward the rear, aiding the impression of sportiness. Fortunately, the slope is small enough that it doesn't really impact rear head room. Even with the available panoramic sunroof, there should be ample room in back for people on the tall side. Speaking of that sunroof, the glass stretches back over both rows of seats, with the front half popping up and sliding back over the rear much like the unit in the Q7. Cargo space behind the rear seat is also plentiful, with lots of space for four and their weekend luggage.
One element of the Q5 that the Audi designers emphasized was the grille. Going forward, Audi's allroad and Q models will have the the vertical bars on the grille that are more emphasized. The normal car models, like the A, S and RS, will emphasize the horizontal bars. On the Q5, at least the license plate bar has also moved downward within the grille area.

As usual, US buyers will get a much more limited palette of drivetrains to select from. In fact, there will be no selections. The US gets a 3.2L FSI gasoline V6 with a fast-shifting ZF six-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive. Like the A4/A5, the quattro has a nominal 40/60 front rear split. In the Q5, the normally aspirated V-6 will generate 265hp and 243lb-ft of torque. European buyers will have a plethora of choices including diesels. The prototype we saw in Ingolstadt had the 2.0L TDI four -cylinder. According to the Audi engineers we talked to, Audi's new hybrid system is likely to appear first on the Q5 in the US market, but that probably won't happen before 2010. Gas-fueled V6 Q5s should start to turn up at US Audi dealers in the first quarter of 2009 with prices that Audi says will be in line with competitors. The base will likely start somewhere in the upper $30k range and may well hit $50k with all the goodies installed.

[Source: Audi]

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