Other than the standard Audi quattro all-wheel drive (which usually sends 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels), hill descent control and an off-road ESP setting, Q5s have little extra technology to help should their owners wish to head off road. Few will, but it is worth noting that the Q5 lacks the height-adjustable air suspension of the Q7, instead running conventional steel springs.
On the road there is an option of adjustable damper control and variable-ratio steering as part of Audi’s Drive Select package, neither of which were fitted to our test car. Clearly Audi’s ride and handling engineers were tasked with making the Q5 handle like a car of normal height. Of all the environments in which you might find yourself while driving a Q5, the one where it excels and surprises most is on a cross-country strop. Despite the elevated driving position and 1.8-tonne mass, the Q5 turns with remarkably little body roll and changes direction without protestation, with a pivot point set nicely around its driver.
Which would be a fine achievement if, in the pursuit of saloon-like handling, the engineers hadn’t somewhat overlooked the Q5’s abilities in two more relevant habitats. In town, at speeds below 20mph, the steering is finger-light, but beyond this it weights up suddenly. Accelerate onto a roundabout and the change in assistance can catch you unawares, the wheel unexpectedly needing a great deal more force to stop it from centring, making the Q5 feel larger and more unwieldy than it actually is.