Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Beautifully made cabin
  • Comfortable, if not special
  • Few blind-spots; excellent visibility

How is the quality and layout?

With Audi’s wholly justified reputation for the supreme quality of its interiors, there’s no surprise that the Q5’s cabin is comfortable, well-built and easy to use. Like the exterior, the passenger compartment doesn’t stray away from Audi conventions in terms of how it looks – it feels like there’s a fusion between A4 and Q7 going on, and that’s no bad thing. The only potential downside is that it looks and feels rather dark inside, with very little in terms of colour options. The Jaguar F-Pace, at least, has the ability to add brighter upholstery to really lift the cabin.

As a result, the Q5’s interior feels quite grown-up – it’s not particularly stylish, lacking any distinctive wow factor, but it is smart and functional. Plastics in the upper reaches of the dashboard are soft, while everything is assembled with such accuracy and to incredibly tight tolerances that it feels like it will last for years and still be as good as it was on the day it was built. The expensive-feeling switchgear feels delightful to use and is beautifully weighted, reinforcing the Q5’s premium positioning, although we remain unconvinced about the multimedia display screen that stands proud of the dashboard – we’d like to see it fully integrated, or concealed when not in use.

Infotainment and tech

Audi isn’t the first to use a high-set touchscreen, and it cites a customer preference for having these tablet-aping displays on show all of the time. Should you wish to make your Q5’s cabin feel even more special, you can push the boat out financially and opt for the excellent head-up display (HUD) that projects data onto the windscreen. However, since the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit – a configurable screen that replaces the conventional instrument cluster – is standard on all models, having both displays feels like overkill.

Even the entry-level Q5 features the Virtual Cockpit, and it also comes with a 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen with sat-nav, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and Amazon Alexa integration, so you can sync commands with your home system if you have this. Audi also throws in three years of Audi Connect navigation and infotainment services, so you can make use of online information during that time.

Comfort

  • Air suspension improves comfort
  • Leather seats and three-zone climate control
  • Rear seat a squeeze for three adults

One aspect that the first-generation Audi Q5 majored on was comfort, and it features even more prominently second time around. Finding a suitable driving position is easily achieved, regardless of whether or not the front seats are electrically adjustable, and the steering adjusts for distance and angle, too.

If you want additional comfort, the adaptive air suspension system serves up one of the most cosseting experiences in this corner of the SUV market. It’s standard on Vorsprung models and optional on certain trims below it. Even in the appropriately-titled Comfort setting, the Q5 remains composed, rarely suffering from the kind of nausea-inducing floating that blights the Mercedes GLC when equipped with a similar kind of suspension.

Most Q5 buyers will choose the S line trim with its standard passive suspension setup and 19-inch wheels, but even then, passengers are unlikely to complain about being jolted about. This is because the standard suspension with conventional metal springs is well-judged in terms of balancing the need to be comfortable, but also delivers good body control when being driven more enthusiastically.

Even on Q5s fitted with larger alloy wheels, the compromise feels fine, with little sharpness of poor surfaces felt in the cabin. Road noise is minimal as long as you don’t choose wheels larger than 20-inches in size, as certain types of road surface will amplify the tyre roar when riding on them. Wind noise is low, the diesel engine hums away in the background with only a faint amount of clatter at low speeds in cold temperatures and sends very few vibrations through the steering wheel.

The SQ5 is the least comfortable model in the range thanks to stiffer suspension fitted in order to offer the best handling. You’re constantly aware of the compromise, however, as the jiggly ride quality never settles down. This could become quite disruptive and annoying after a while, depending on the road surface, and we’d recommend a longer test drive to see if it’s worth the compromise – especially since some of us don’t think the improved body control is enough.

With four passengers on board, there’ll be no grumbles, with decent head- and legroom and a fine view out from the elevated seating positions. The seats themselves feel very supportive – both front chairs are heated and have electrically-adjustable lumbar support, while standard leather trim makes the cabin feel that bit more special.

S line versions upwards have rear privacy glass and acoustic side windows (to limit exterior noise entering the cabin) as part of the standard package. Three-zone climate control features across the line-up, enhancing comfort, meaning those in the rear get their own temperature control and a pair of vents. You can also opt for ‘rear seat bench plus’, which allows you to recline and slide the rear seats to alter between additional comfort or boot space.