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Audi Q5 Facelift Makes Global Debut; India Launch In 2021

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The Audi Q5 PI or midlife makeover has been unveiled. The cars looks get a bigger than expected change, with new lighting technology, updated infotainment and safety related changes forming the key highlights of the update.

The Q5 that you see here is draped in what Audi calls, the district green colour expand View Photos
The Q5 that you see here is draped in what Audi calls, the district green colour

The Audi Q5 is the most successful SUV from Audi. Its first generation arrived in 2008, and went on to sell 1.6 million units worldwide. The second generation debuted in 2016 and carandbike was the only one from India to bring you an exclusive review from Mexico – the home of the Q5 since – as it is now made at Audi's plant in San José Chiapa, Puebla. And now that car has undergone its mid-cycle facelift. The Audi Q5 PI or product improvement has made its global debut at the company's headquarters in Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, Germany. The car will begin getting into markets in Europe soon, but it will not arrive on our shores before 2021. Still there is enough and more here, to warrant our attention – and get us excited for its arrival, whenever that may be.


The Q5's 'singleframe' grille is wider and bigger, and finished in black.  The S line sporty trim has a black honeycomb pattern grille

The Audi Q5 has been largely successful due to its looks, and its safe to say the new design on the facelift will keep that going. The biggest change – and most noticeable is a new face, and new tailgate. The car's 'singleframe' grille is wider and bigger, and finished in black. Some trims will see vertical slats finished in chrome, and the skid plate also being finished in silver instead of black. The S line sporty trim has a black honeycomb pattern grille. The car also gets larger air intakes now and the fog lamp housing is also larger, and more prominent. It gives the bumper a wider, flared look, despite the grille dominating its face.


 The headlamp cluster is changed and full LED headlamps are now standard


The Q5 now gets a new set of DRLs or daytime running lights. The headlamp cluster is changed therefore, and yes while a full LED cluster is standard, the matrix LEDs can be ordered as an optional extra. Using a new lighter sill insert has also enhanced the car's ground clearance. A redesigned tailgate, brand new OLED taillights (which have their own story, see below), a new diffuser and tailpipes, give the car a more athletic rear. Overall the car appears wider and bigger, even though it is not so. There are two new colours – ultra blue and the one you see here, called district green.


A redesigned tailgate, brand new OLED taillights, a new diffuser and tailpipes give the car a more athletic rear

Now those OLED taillights. OLED or organic light emitting diodes, are superior to regular LEDs as they can light up a larger area more evenly. The new taillights use them, and Audi had gone one step further to offer three different rear light signatures or patterns that buyers can choose between. Each signature comes with its very specific animation when the car is unlocked, or switched off – what is also known as the ‘leaving home and coming home' light scenario.


The OLED taillights come with different patterns and come with very specific animation when the car is unlocked, or switched off 

The animation (meaning the pattern in which the taillight cluster lights up or shuts down) is different for each of the three looks, and this is a huge first in the industry. Having a start up or shut down animation was also an Audi first but now this takes it further. Besides the three design choices that buyers can opt for, there is a fourth signature taillight pattern which comes on by default, when the car is put in dynamic mode (using the drive select drive modes programme). The OLED taillights have another trick – and that is safety related. All the OLED segments within the cluster light up – when the car is at standstill and sensors detect another vehicle coming closer from behind – like say at a traffic signal. Once you drive away, the taillights revert to the chosen signature design.

While it is not clear how much of this will be offered on the Indian model, given that most of these customisations would be software related, it should not be that difficult. I say this keeping in mind the fact that the Q5 will likely continue to be locally assembled at the VW Group's plant in Aurangabad. The big change between the last car and this – for India – will be that it will no longer be offered as a diesel. The TDI engines will be replaced by just the TFSI range. In fact in a presentation to a select group of us from India and the Middle East, Audi's HQ team said the three engines for this region include two 4-cylinder petrol engines, and one 6-cylinder.


The Q5 coming to India will be offered only with a petrol engine 

These are the 2.0 TFSI quattro with 200 bhp and 350 Nm, and the same engine with a 260 bhp output. The second iteration makes 370 Nm of peak torque. Both have a 12-volt mild hybrid system with brake energy recuperation, and are married to a 7-Speed dual clutch S-Tronic gearbox. The V6 goes into the SQ5 TFSI quattro. The 3-litre engine makes 348 bhp and 500 Nm; and uses an 8-Speed torque convertor tiptronic to channel all that torque to the wheels. The V6 has a standard 48-volt mild hybrid EV system. While both engine variants have quattro, the 4-cylinders use the lighter (and cheaper) ultra technology, while the thoroughbred quattro (with a torsen mid-differential) goes into the SQ5. Going offroad is now easier, with a new inclination angle display, and of course the downhill assist function. An air suspension gives you comfort and a wide range, and enhanced efficiency through an approached aerodynamic setup. While there are front wheel drive models available in Europe, it is unlikely we will get to see them here.


The 2-litre TFSI petrol engine is available in two states of tune  - 200 bhp and 260 bhp 

The car gets a whole host of driver aid functions – but the Q5 always had those. The Audi pre sense city system (like Volvo's City Safety) is standard on the Q5. This keeps the car from lower speed collisions or accidents. Higher speed collision avoidance assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, emergency braking, predictive efficiency assist (that monitors your drive style and offers the most optimum energy saving performance), and even a turn assist – just some of the optional equipment you can get. The car comes loaded with a long list of expected safety gear – as standard.


The Audi pre sense city system is standard on the Q5. 

While all models and variants of the Q5 will be made in Mexico and shipped to the rest of the world, China gets its own model that is built there. That car is exclusively for China and is a longer wheelbase version of the global Q5. When asked if India may get the long wheelbase Q5, Michaela Benz, Q5 Product Spokesperson – Marketing and Sales, Audi told carandbike, “We will look at it more closely. At the moment that's not planned. The plant in Mexico only builds the short wheelbase version. And the Chinese production is only considered or built for the Chinese market. But should we find that there is a real demand, we will definitely take a closer look at that. It's an interesting idea.” So if you like the sound of that, start bugging your Audi dealer! 


All models and variants of the Q5 will be made in Mexico 

Inside the cabin there is a fresh look, with a new colour palette and materials. But the biggest change is the 3rd generation Modular Infotainment Platform or MIB 3. The latest infotainment system has ten times the computing capability of the previous system. It works in conjunction with the updated virtual instrument cluster and allows drivers to customise graphic layouts. It can also help save  up to 6 driver profiles, so different drivers of the same car can save their settings. Here's what is interesting – these settings can be saved in to the Audi cloud, and can be accessed by said driver in any other MIB 3 powered Audi vehicle.


The Q5 now comes with a 10-inch touchscreen display unit 

The 10.1” touchscreen display is standard, and given the voice and touch capability of MIB 3, the rotary dial below the gear stick is gone. The screen can also be customised into 3 preview windows,
or you could go back to the classic tile arranged menu view. Voice commands are more improved, and the system can now analyse voice inputs online in real time, so as to understand you better. Unlike the past where it understood only set commands, now it's more intuitive and so you can say things like “I'm hungry” or “I need a restroom” – and it will look for restaurants or a loo along the route you are driving on. Another new addition is ‘function on demand'. This means that if there are features and functions you did not initially order, you can still order them through the interface. Personal Amazon Alexa accounts can also be operated through the Q5.


 The digital instrument cluster provides a host of information to the drivers


The new Audi Q5 goes on to the market in Europe by August this year, but as I said earlier, the updated car will arrive in India only in 2021. We expect the launch in the first half of the year. Remember it's the right hand drive avatar we need, and production for that will follow the start of production for the left hand versions. Add to that the fact that India needs the CKD or completely knocked down kits for local assembly, and that just adds to the delayed timeline. Expect the car to create some buzz though, given the extensive list of changes. It will compete as always, with the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

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