When it comes to SUVs, the Audi Q5 is among the most luxurious out there.
But what sets the Q5 apart from other bespoke options is Audi’s attention to detail. Everything about Audi’s interior design is purposeful; it’s smart, intuitive, and sophisticated without feeling over-the-top.
I took the Q5 on a day jaunt around upstate New York and back to New York City. It was not enough time to fully appreciate everything this car has to offer, but it gave me a nice look at the vehicle’s highlights.
Here are my favourite features:
I took a spin in the 2018 Audi Q5 with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that gets 252 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. It came with all-wheel drive and 7-speed transmission.
I'm not going to get in-depth about the driving experience itself -- we'll have a separate post on that later if you're interested. I will say it was a buttery smooth drive and the Q5 is quick to boot. It was rather easy to get to 130km/h without noticing so that's always fun and pleasant.
This SUV starts at a pricey $65,900 but extra packages bumped the final price to $73,500. Believe it or not, Audi's driver-assistance package was not one of the options, so it will cost even more if you're looking for the true, high-tech experience.
All of that being said, I'll be focusing on what I liked about this car from the perspective of someone who had a few hours behind the wheel.
1. Onto my favourite features, the first being the virtual cockpit. The Q5 has a 12.3-inch, full-colour display that will show your full navigation map by using Google satellite imagery.
The thing that is great about the virtual cockpit is you can easily flick between settings using the 'View' button on the steering wheel. I didn't really feel like I needed the map up the entire time I was driving but the graphics were amazing. I like the setting I have pictured here because it shows the speedometer and my upcoming directions all at once.
Audi does support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the company's internal navigation system was actually quite good. It didn't feel inconvenient to rely on Audi's nav system in order to have the true virtual cockpit experience.
The reason I put these two together is because I like how they both work with the instrument cluster to give a comprehensive virtual cockpit experience. I could have my full navigation map on the instrument cluster, my speed on the heads-up display, and my music on the infotainment screen. Voila!
All of those features together created this convenient driving experience where I wasn't constantly flicking through submenus to control everything. I could sit back and relax and see what I wanted, when I wanted. It resulted in a very zen driving experience.
It's very rare to include the center console as a favourite feature. This is typically a standard design scheme: the gear shift, some cupholders, and a spot for your phone.
There are three things that set this center console apart, however. One is the black knob, pictured above the gear shift, that is used to control the infotainment console.
The infotainment display isn't a touchscreen. I normally consider this a drawback but found the black dial very pleasant to use. It's smooth and has ridges around the circumference -- little features that make it pleasant to hold. You can flick through settings without feeling the knob slip from your grasp. It's in a convenient location so you're not reaching wildly for it while driving. There's also a touchpad just above the knob where you can use your finger to write out addresses, but I found the simplicity of the black dial to be enough for me.
Next is the slit to the right of the gear shift. It's the perfect amount of space for holding the key fob without being obtrusive. A nice touch.
I also just loved the gear shift itself. It has a very smooth top and you can tap a button to park the car. It felt more elegant than typical plug-and-pull shifts.
Here's another shot of the center console area. As you can see in this press image, there is a separate area for the phone behind the gear shift, so the entire center console is very cohesive and has all the necessities. There are USB ports so you can charge your phone or take advantage of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Yes, I'm getting really into the weeds here with my features breakdown, but the controls on the steering wheel are very important.
People have very different feelings about this kind of interface. Some are partial to a completely smooth steering wheel and prefer to use the infotainment console to control all of the vehicle's settings. I actually like having buttons on the steering wheel because they are easier to access and help me keep my eyes on the road.
The only issue is that I sometimes find a poor layout can render these controls useless. Audi nails the controls perfectly by sticking to the essentials: instrument cluster, volume, and calls. I particularly loved that I could control the steering wheel using a dial instead of arrows. It felt more elegant and gave me the perception that I had more control over the incremental shifts in sound quality.
These little touches all come together to create this very harmonious driving experience. There are a lot of features in this car that the average driver may not be used to, but these features prevent the Audi from feeling daunting. It's easy to use everything and nothing feels cheesy.
These seats have a leather surface, so they look as luxe as the rest of the car. The driver gets a four-way power lumbar so you can get the perfect amount of back support.
I adjusted the driver seat so I had an elevated view of the highway and was very content with the entire seating arrangement. I got stuck in bumper-t0-bumper traffic heading back into the city and wasn't uncomfortable in the slightest.
There's a lot of space in this SUV if you're curious. You can pile adults in the back and fit quite a bit of cargo in the back. If you're splurging on the Audi Q5, you are getting the space one should in an SUV.
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