New Audi Q5 refines original model's winning formula

It's an even better baby Q7.

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
The first Audi Q5 made a name for itself as a baby Q7, hitting a Goldilocks zone in the crossover segment and challenging BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus for supremacy in what would become one of the luxury market's most important segments. The Q5 is already Audi's best-selling vehicle globally, underscoring its importance to the German brand. Like its predecessor, the second-generation Q5 takes the Q7's looks and tech, then distills it into a smaller package.

But unlike the Q7, the Q5 doesn't look quite so dowdy in its redesigned body. We'll attribute that to the smaller front and rear overhangs, which keep the Q5 looking like a crossover instead of a high-riding wagon. The face is mostly a carbon copy of the Q7's, with a prominent grille featuring a silver surround and flanked by a set of clean, stylish headlights. In back, the smaller Audi gets more expressive taillights that harken back to the first-generation model in their lighting signature. We aren't really sure what Audi was going for with its two-tier rear bumper, but it doesn't work and is inarguably the worst piece of an otherwise fashionable design.

Aside from restyling the Q5's body, Audi managed to both expand it in every direction and trim nearly 200 pounds of body fat through a mix of "maximum tensile strength" steel and aluminum. Audi is also promising an impressive aerodynamics gain for the new body – the company's engineers slashed the coefficient of drag from 0.33 to 0.30. That should mean a quieter and more efficient drive.

Like the Q7, the new Q5 benefits from Audi's push into advanced driver information systems. It gets the 12.3-inch TFT display, also known as Virtual Cockpit, on top of the 8.3-inch MMI display atop the center stack. MMI takes a page from Apple with its Personal Route Assist. Much as CarPlay will automatically display how long it takes you to get home, Audi's new system can study an owner's behavior and suggest the best route to a given spot, even when the navigation isn't active.

While we're geeked about the new tech, the powertrain front is less newsy. The European press release lists one gas engine – a 252-horsepower 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder – and four TDI powertrains. Those latter engines are dead to the US, as Audi faces the backlash from parent company Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal. The European release also lists six-speed manual, seven-speed S-Tronic, and eight-speed automatic transmissions, depending on engine – we'd only count on the eight-speed coming to the US.

The second-generation Audi Q5 will hit dealers in Europe in early 2017. We'll have a first drive review coming up soon with more details and our early takeaways.

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