Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe 2016 review
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the GLC 250 and 250d Coupes with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at their Australian launch.
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Audi's Q5 mid-size SUV has been a remarkable success in this country. It's hard to believe the unadorned original landed here in Australia almost 10 years ago, with a fresh face, VW Group underpinnings and a job to do - luring people who couldn't afford, or just didn't want the giant bruiser Q7 into an Audi SUV.
It hardly seems possible that we're only just into the model's second-generation. The roads are awash with the first one, which included the spectacular SQ5, a 3.0-llitre V6 turbodiesel that can give some hot hatches a run for their money.
Today, we're starting at the other end of the Q5 range, though, with the entry level Design, a diesel-only starter kit that probably won't find a lot of buyers but might tempt a few people out of higher-end Japanese rivals and even some lower-end Germans.
|Audi Q5 2017: 3.0 TFSI Quattro|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Audi has got into a particular habit of nudging exterior designs along with the gentlest of evolutions. In the Design version, there's a distinct echo of the original, bling-free design that was in stark contrast to the heavy-handed first-gen Q7.
It's immediately recognisable as a Q5 (the new Q7, to disprove the rule above, is markedly different from its predecessor) in much the same way the A4 and A5s are similar to their antecedents. The new one has Audi's trademark "tornado line", a strong crease running from the headlights along the car's flanks, with a gentle wave to the taillights.
The front is sharper, with slimmer headlights, and a bigger grille with more shape and depth. The rear is almost identical, with similar shaped lights and that clamshell-style tailgate.
Inside is all-new and a huge, welcome change. The old car was heavily based on the B8 A4, with its coal-face dash monolith, tiny screen and various old-feeling bits and pieces. It wasn't bad, it was just old by the time 2016 came around. This new one is consistent with the new A4 and Q7, with a lower scuttle, crisp design and much newer materials. The Design spec of the interior is more grey plastic but with a welcome strip of textured aluminium and lots of soft-touch switches for the climate control.
The leather on the seats (not real) looks over-grained and the seats themselves are a bit shapeless - they look to have been swiped from a 1.0-litre A3 and are the only real "meh" moment in the interior.
While the Q5 hasn't got that much bigger in footprint, it feels way larger on the inside, which is partly down to deft design changes, but with every millimetre in wheelbase comes more space, creating a better overall package.
Front-seat occupants have two cupholders, which are initially hidden underneath an open tray that slides under the armrest into the console bin. It's a handy place for your phone and, thankfully, the Q5 tells you that you've left it in the car when you open the door. There is also a tray under the climate controls for small odds and ends and a slot that fits the pleasantly chunky key.
Rear-seat passengers have more legroom than before and I can sit behind my driving position with room to spare, even in the fixed position you get without the Comfort package. Added to that are two cupholders in the centre armrest for a total of four in the car, joining four bottle holders, one for each door.
The electric tailgate is a winner and opens onto a space of 550 litres, extending to 1550 litres with the seats folded down. Our car also had the $350 cargo rail set, which lets you rein in a sliding load.
The Design name (which I'm sure doesn't indicate style over substance) is new for the second-gen Q5, kicking off at $65,900, a healthy $2000 more than the car it replaces. The range stretches up to the new petrol SQ5 (we didn't get that version in the old car), which retails at a stout $99,611.
For your Mercedes GLC-baiting money you will get a 7.0-inch MMI screen, eight-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, cruise control, front rear and side parkings sensors, keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlights, LED DRLs, electric tailgate, sat nav, electric front seats, space-saver spare and a hefty safety package.
The 7.0-inch MMI screen perched on the dash (the Sport and up get an 8.3-inch screen) is run by a console-mounted rotary dial. Along with the usual AM/FM and smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth and (two) USB ports, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ digital radio and a pretty decent sat nav.
Unusually for Audi, you can choose only one from a range of packages, the $2200 Comfort (sliding rear seats, electric steering column adjustment, memory driver's seat and trick rear vision mirrors). That seems to suggest that not many people will choose this car, and Audi hopes they'll take the hint and spend more on the Sport spec instead.
The design comes with just one engine, the 2.0 TDI turbodiesel. Producing 140kW and 400Nm, it sends power to all four wheels via the newer seven-speed twin-clutch that's finding its way into the Audi range.
Audi reckons the 1845kg Q5 will crack the ton in 7.9 seconds. The Q5 Design and Sport also arrive with Quattro Ultra, which is a system that cuts off power to the rear wheels when circumstances permit (ie most of the time) to cut fuel usage.
Audi says the Q5 delivered 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle. Our time with the car, which included a delightful run on Sydney's tolled car parks (the M5 and M7) as well as a number of trips to and from the city yielded an indicated 8.2L/100km
The old Q5 often felt tight on the road, the steering never really sorted itself out and was either too heavy or too light, and you couldn't feel much. The ride and handling could also be a bit vague on occasions.
The very good news is that all of that has been sorted. The new Q5 feels a lot like a scaled-down Q7, which is just as well because they share a good chunk of underbits. While most Q7s come with air suspension, this steel-sprung Q5 is a winner (coincidentally, unless you're super-picky, a steel-sprung Q7 is also perfectly fine). Composed and quiet, the Q5 takes big bumps a lot more happily than the old one and the more advanced platform delivers a far more hushed experience.
The only engine option, the diesel, is a fine thing indeed. That huge wallop of torque sometimes catches the seven-speed DSG unawares when you suddenly drop the hammer, but we found leaving the drive select mode in Dynamic seemed to assist (the transmission's Sport mode is a largely a waste of time in this car). It's extremely quiet and, as my colleague Richard Berry discovered at the car's gruelling launch, you can't hear or feel the engine, so it's hard to tell that it's actually a diesel.
The Q5 is a real mile-crusher, with long motorway runs dispatched in near-silence and comfort. Even though those front seats don't look like much, they're comfortable, if not particularly supportive in corners. Around the city and suburbs, there is plenty of vision in all directions, with the front and rear parking sensors making life that bit easier.
If you want to hustle this entry-level model, again, it's an improvement on the older car. While it's hardly an overgrown hot hatch - and the tyres aren't really meant for super fun times - it's tidy and resistant to understeer.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Audi ships the Design with eight airbags (including side airbags for rear-seat dwellers), AEB with pedestrian detection (works up to 85km/h), reverse cross traffic alert, stability and traction controls, brake assist, active bonnet, reversing camera, blind-spot monitoring and exit warning to help stop you dooring cyclists.
Catering for child seats are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchorages.
You can also pre-pay three years of servicing for $1,870, which runs to $623 per year, but has to be taken up at the dealer. After that, there's no fixed-price servicing.
The first Q5 wasn't a hard act to follow from a technical perspective - SQ5 excepted - it was a competent but ageing platform. From a sales perspective, it's definitely got a lot to live up to. The new Q5 not only strives to hit the front from a technical point of view (inside and out) but to maintain the incredible momentum built up over almost a decade on sale.
The interior is a massive jump while the exterior's evolution, while relatively tame, manages to make the Q5 look suddenly contemporary and a little more dynamic, without abandoning the Q5's reputation for elegance. The new Q5 is as good an update as the recent Q7 and A4, which means it's extremely good indeed.
|2.0 TDI Quattro||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$41,140 – 48,400||2017 AUDI Q5 2017 2.0 TDI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TDI QUATTRO DESIGN||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$45,888 – 57,500||2017 AUDI Q5 2017 2.0 TDI QUATTRO DESIGN Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TDI QUATTRO S LINE BLACK||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$69,190 – 79,530||2017 AUDI Q5 2017 2.0 TDI QUATTRO S LINE BLACK Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TDI QUATTRO SPORT||2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$43,794 – 65,990||2017 AUDI Q5 2017 2.0 TDI QUATTRO SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|