Will Being Made In Mexico Affect Sales Of The Brilliant New Audi Q5? – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Photo credit Audi Japan

Will the Mexican factor affect the Q5’s sales?

Sport Utility Vehicles are growing in popularity everywhere you look these days. And the Audi Q5 is one of the best compact crossovers you will find. In fact, it has been on the mid-sized luxury SUV bestsellers’ list since its launch in 2008. As for the new 2.0-liter gasoline model I just tested in Japan, well, it’s pretty much better than its predecessor in every way.

Now that’s a good omen because Audi Japan expects this new Q5 to slot into No. 2 spot just under the brand’s biggest seller, the A3. Meanwhile in China where the car is targeted at the ever-expanding affluent upper-middle class, Q5 sales are growing by more than 10% year on year according to carsalesbase.com figures. So what is so special about this crossover?

This new second-generation version looks good, has a great choice of engines and dual clutch transmissions, boasts superb interior quality and refinement and handles like a sports sedan. A formula for continued strong sales, right?

Almost. This new Q5 is now made in Mexico. Its production has switched from the company’s base in Ingolstadt, Germany to a new $1.3 billion factory in Puebla. (I wonder if U.S. President Donal Trump is going to penalize Audi for building south of the border?)

Photo credit Audi Japan

The Q5 is arguably the best handling in its class.

But to maintain the trust of the marketplace, the company has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible to ensure that build quality vies with that of Ingolstadt. I can say at least that I found no issues with this Mexican-made car during my test.

As can be expected, the Q5 takes design hints from the A4 and is beautifully proportioned. Its grille is signature Audi crossover and the LED headlights sit at just the right angle. Compared to rivals like the Mercedes GLC and BMW X3, this is arguably the best looking in its class.

The new Q5 has been dropped onto the new A4’s platform for longitudinal engines and employs lots of aluminum that helps to reduce curb weight by 60kgs.

This new model has five engine variations including four diesels and one gasoline. The Japan-spec 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged gasoline version generates 252hp and 370Nm of torque and achieves 41.5mpg. It is a pure joy to drive especially teamed up with the 7-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission. I’m not joking when I say that this is one of the best dual-clutch transmissions you will ever try. In automatic mode, the gear changes are seamless and when flicked into manual model, the flappy paddles offer even quicker smoother gear changes. There is however, the smallest of turbo lags at low revs, but it does not interfere with the driving experience.

This model also comes with the company’s well-known Quattro “Ultra” four-wheel drive system which cleverly regulates drive between all four wheels. For normal highway cruising, the system halts drive to the rear wheels which of course helps to save fuel.

The Q5’s “Drive Select” button gives drivers the choice of several drive modes. By flicking through the modes you can easily select everything from throttle response and traction control systems to steering weight. The basic suspension settings are surprisingly sporty and firm so most drivers will undoubtedly leave the settings in “Comfort” and switch to “Dynamic” only when less body roll and a stiffer ride are called for.

As for the suspension, buyers can purchase up to four suspension settings with air suspension and adaptive dampers topping out the range. While the Q5 can be a little harsh over choppy terrain, it is generally compliant and well-behaved over most surfaces. And the firmer sporty suspension means that the car resists roll and pitching more than any car in its class.

This new version of the Q5 gets a newly fitted safety package that includes a system which employs blind-spot monitoring sensors to warn of nearby cyclists or pedestrians as you’re about to open a door.

The Q5’s interior follows on from the classy exterior. Employing a design similar to that of the A4, the Q5 ups the ante with even higher quality materials. In a cabin where just about everything looks and feels top notch, you’ll find an easy to use, leather-bound gear selector and an 8.3-inch screen with a touch-pad setup. Seats are comfortable, visibility is good all-round and there’s more room in the back for adults than before.

This new Audi crossover gets an adaptive cruise control system that can steer the car when it’s crawling along in a traffic jam. The car also has lane assist to help keep it in a lane, and a warning system that will tell you if you’re cruising at an unsafe distance behind another vehicle.

The Q5’s rear sensors are used for more than just improved security when parking, too. They offer “Cross traffic assist,” which watches for oncoming cars that will pass behind you, and can warn you and then ultimately stop the car if you’re about to reverse out into their path.

The car’s blind spot monitors are also used to offer “exit protection,” which monitors the sides of the Q5 as you prepare to leave the vehicle. It will flash red lights in the door handle recesses if it thinks you’re about to open the door in the path of a pedestrian or cyclist — and can also stop the doors from being opened altogether if it thinks you’re going to ignore its warning.

Audi has big plans and expectations for the new Q5. The only aspects that may affect Audi Japan’s plans and elsewhere will be the price and how the market perceives its “Made in Mexico” tag. From what I saw, the Q5 has no quality issues and comes with a starting price of 7 million yen (around $64,000 USD), sitting comfortably alongside its rivals on the price list. Will it make that No. 2 spot on the Audi rankings? Only time will tell.


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