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Lexus NX


Audi Q5

Summary

Lexus NX

For Lexus. a lot is riding on the new NX. It's one of the brand’s most important models, playing in the key mid-size SUV space, and it brings with it a lot of new technology and design elements for the historically conservative maker.

The key one we’re looking at here is the first ever Lexus plug-in hybrid, and the most expensive NX model ever, the 450h+.

The question is: Should you pick this one over the brand’s renowned 350h hybrid variant, and how does it compare to its luxury PHEV peers?

As it is perhaps Lexus’ most important car since the UX300e full-electric small SUV, we’ve taken the NX 450h+ for a full post-launch follow-up review to give it the attention it deserves.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency1.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi Q5

The mid-size SUV is now a brand's most crucial model. 

Now the defining volume seller of our age, the ever-popular category transcends brand and market position – and Audi is no exception.

To that end, the German brand reminds us that Q5 is its most successful SUV, having sold almost 40,000 units in Australia so far. No pressure on this new one then, which brings some much-needed updates to the current-generation SUV which launched back in 2017.

Has Audi done enough to keep the Q5 sticking it to its (also very good) arch-rivals from Germany and the world for years to come? We sampled the updated car at its Australian launch to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Lexus NX8.1/10

The NX 450h+ is a leading example for plug-in hybrid models. It’s a big ask for a buyer to switch to this technology at a correspondingly higher price, and others could follow the example set by this car as it nails the brief for core offerings.

It has a long range, charges relatively quickly, and the hybrid system is easy to use, yet is also customisable to allow keen users to extract the most out of the technology.

The NX does all of this whilst also being a big step forward for the brand in terms of its interior design, technology, and features. 

What remains to be seen is if there’s a big enough target market for PHEV tech when Lexus sells an even easier-to-use standard self-charging hybrid version.


Audi Q57.5/10

Audi has worked largely behind the scenes to tweak and change just little details for its facelifted Q5. Ultimately though, these all add up for a significantly more appealing mid-size luxury SUV, even against tough segment competition.

The brand has managed to add some vital tech enhancements, improve value, and breathe life back into its key family tourer which previously looked a little in danger of being left behind.

Our pick of the range is the Sport for having the most impressive equipment at a very reasonable price.

Design

Lexus NX

The design of the new NX is perhaps the thing I love the most about it. I was no fan of the prior model, which seemed a pretty average re-imagining of the previous Toyota RAV4 on which it was based. This new one, though, is a stratospheric leap into the future.

It thoroughly owns its appearance inside and out, leaving hardly a hint that it might share its underpinnings with the RAV4, and moving the Lexus brand forward in so many ways.

It has a newfound imposing stance thanks to its significantly expanded dimensions, with the signature Lexus descending roofline, massive wheels, and expansive grille.

While I wouldn’t call it ‘elegant’ it’s certainly contemporary, with the contours running down the bonnet, and particularly the ones surrounding the rear wheel arch cutting strong, post-modern lines.

It looks distinct, and importantly, far more resolved than its predecessor, to my eyes for the first time truly earning its place as a Lexus.

Interesting touches this time around also include the typeface across the rear, and sharp LED light clusters front and rear.

If you agree the exterior is an impressive step forward, wait until you see the inside. Lexus has clearly re-thought its entire approach to interior design, with the dash a clean slate exercise.

Immediately dominating the design is that massive touchscreen, which has an entirely new and much easier to use interface. Some clear thought has also been given to ergonomics, as, despite its size, even the furthest elements are easy to reach for the driver. And the clumsy touchpad interface which plagued the previous car has finally been consigned to the bin.

There’s also no doubt the NX reaches into the premium realm, with soft touch materials and tasteful grey finishes everywhere. There are even some clever elements, like a padded leather strip running alongside the centre stack for the driver’s knee, and largely tasteful application of piano black finishes.

The digital dash and wheel design is aesthetically pleasing, while maintaining a driver-oriented approach, which can sometimes feel a bit lost on some other new designs which replace an indented cluster with a single continuous panel for the dash and multimedia functions.

There’s also a distinct lack of buttons to clutter up the design, which ties into the practicality of the space which we’ll look at next.


Audi Q57/10

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the updated Q5's design is how closely you have to look to see what's changed. I know Audi's design language tends to move at a glacial pace, but it is unfortunate timing for the Q5 that it misses out on some of the more fun and radical design choices made with more recently launched Audi SUVs, such as the Q3 and Q8.

Regardless, the brand has revised the grille across all grades, tweaked some little features in the face to make it a bit more angular, added some contrast in the alloy wheel designs, and removed the chintzier plastic cladding from the base model.

They're all subtle changes, but welcome ones that help the Q5 sync up with the rest of the brand's line-up once more. The Q5 is a conservative choice, perhaps for those looking to fly under the radar compared to the shouty chrome of the GLC or exaggerated features of the BMW X3.

Round the back this latest Q5 update gets even more subtle, with the most notable feature being a highlight bar across the bootlid. The rear light clusters are now LED across the range, and have been slightly re-worked, and the lower splitter has a more modern design.

Put simply, if you liked the Q5 before, you'll like it even more now. I hardly think its new look is revolutionary enough to capture a new audience in quite the same way as its smaller Q3 sibling or even the new A1 hatch.

The changes to the Q5's interior design are small but significant, and really help to modernise the space. The standard 10.1-inch multimedia screen pairs nicely with the virtual dash cluster now standard across the range, and the dreadful software from the previous car has been replaced by the slick operating system from more recent Audis.

As things are now easier to use via the touchscreen, the Q5's once-busy centre console has been tidied up. The odd touchpad and dial set-up have been removed and replaced by a pared-back design with useful little storage cutaways.

It certainly looks as high-tech as Audi's "progress through technology" tagline would suggest. Other improvements include improved 'leather accented trim' on the seats, and a revised console box with a slide-away wireless phone-charging bay, a nice touch.

The two cars we tested showed off the choices of interior highlight trim: our diesel car had an open-pore wood look, and the petrol car had a textured aluminium finish. Both felt and looked great.

The Q5's overall interior design is showing its age a bit, with the rest of the quite upright dash remaining the same as it was when this generation launched in 2017. Apart from those nice highlight trims, it's a bit of a single-colour treatment. At least it has all of the comfort touches you might expect from a car in this segment. It's not even to say that Audi has done a poor job of this update, quite the opposite, it's more a credit to the strong design language found on the interiors of its new-generation vehicles that the Q5 misses out on this time around.

Practicality

Lexus NX

The NX is much bigger than before, meaning it has a lot more cabin space, but what cabin space is on offer is also more efficiently used. 

A prime example is the centre stack and armrest console. The latter is simply huge and features the brand’s signature top with a trick hinge so it can be opened both ways. 

The lack of clumsy controls featured in previous cars, as well as a tidy fly-by-wire shifter, means a lot more space in the centre console for two huge bottle holders.

Under the climate controls is a neat, floating, wireless charger, which slides back into the dash to reveal yet another large storage area and 12V power outlet. Front passengers can also make use of a choice of USB 2.0 or USB-C for connecting to the multimedia suite. Nice.

Moving onto the touch panel itself, and the basic dual-zone climate functions are controlled via big shortcut touch units, as well as the smart inclusion of physical dials for temperature. There’s also a physical dial for audio volume in the centre, and shortcut buttons for instant de-fogging. Smart.

There are big bottle holders with a small bin in the doors, and the space on offer for front passengers is great. The seating position is quite high, but the excellent seat trim which Lexus has built a reputation for is still present. The F-Sport seats in this variant offer unexpectedly good side-bolstering, too.

The rear seat continues with the lovely seat trim, and the 60/40 split backing has two states of recline. 

The space offers plenty of room for my 182cm tall frame, featuring ample airspace for my knees and head. Oddly though, it doesn’t feel as big as its Toyota RAV4 relation. 

This could merely be perception, as the interior trim consists of dark leather with dark headlining and a deep tint for the rear windows.

For storage, pockets feature on the backs of the front seats, alongside a decent bottle holder in the doors and an armrest console with two more. 

Amenities include dual adjustable air vents with a lock-off (but no independent third climate zone), as well as dual USB-C outlets and a 12V socket.

Finally, there’s the boot. Volume is decent, with 520 litres on offer. The loading lip and floor is quite high, though, and it’s notable that 60 litres have been lost to this car’s design when compared with the RAV4. 

It fits the three-piece CarsGuide luggage set with a little space to spare, but the luggage cover had to be removed to accommodate the height.

Under the boot floor there is no room for a spare, but a small storage cutaway, perhaps for your charging cables, as well as a tyre repair kit and a compartment which houses the 12V battery.


Audi Q57/10

While the Q5 remains dimensionally identical to its predecessor, practicality has improved for this update, especially with the extra space afforded for front passengers. Small but useful storage cutaways for wallets, phones and keys now appear down the centre console, and the storage box with variable-height lid is nice and deep. The wireless phone-charger is a very nice addition, and it can either cover up the front two cupholders for a flush look, or slide away under the console lid if you need to make use of them.

The bottle holders are large, too, and there are even bigger ones with decent trenches in the door pockets.

The tri-zone climate unit is no-nonsense and practical but minimalist dials still appear near the shift-lever for volume and fine-tuning control.

The seats are quite adjustable, as is the steering column, but this is a true SUV at heart, so don't expect to find the sportiest seating position, as these have a high base and the tall dash precludes most from sitting lower to the floor.

In the back seat I had enough room for my 182cm height, but I was honestly expecting a little more from such a large SUV. There's room for my knees and head, but I'll also note the seat trim felt like it could do with more padding in the base. I wasn't as comfortable here as I was in a relatively recent test of the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300e, which has softer, more luxurious 'Artico' leather-appointed trim, too. Worth considering.

Rear passengers benefit from a light and airy space thanks to the panoramic sunroof in the Sport grade which we were able to test, and the Q5 continues to offer a very welcome third climate zone with adjustable vents and controls for rear passengers. There are also two USB-A ports and a 12v outlet, for a versatile set of charging options.

Storage-wise, rear passengers get large bottle holders in the doors and flimsy nets on the backs of the front seats, and there's also a drop-down armrest with two smaller bottle-holders.

Another consideration here is the optionally available 'Comfort package' which puts the second row on rails and allows passengers to further adjust the angle of the seat back. This option ($1300 for 40 TDI or $1690 for 45 TFSI) also includes an electric steering column.

Boot space for the Q5 range comes in at 520 litres which is on-par for this luxury mid-size segment, if a little smaller than its key rivals. For reference it easily consumed our CarsGuide demo travel cases with plenty of space to spare. The Q5 also has a collection of elastic nets to go with its multitude of tie-down points.

The addition of a motorised tailgate as standard is a very welcome addition, and the two Q5 Sports we tested had space-saver spares with an inflator kit under the boot floor.

Price and features

Lexus NX

The NX 450h+ is the most expensive NX ever, wearing a before on-roads price-tag (MSRP) of $89,900. It’s some $6000 more than the well-received NX 350h 'self-charging' hybrid and offers a huge battery with an unusually long range for a PHEV.

We’ll look a little more closely at the detail behind that in a moment, but you should also know that in the context of its PHEV competition the value equation is not as alarming as it first seems.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300e wears an MSRP of $95,700, and incoming new PHEV versions of the BMW X3 (xDrive 30e - $101,971) and Volvo XC60 (Recharge - $97,990) are significantly more expensive.

It seemingly takes a lot to convince a buyer to switch to PHEV technology, so Lexus has quite cleverly positioned the NX 450h+ under its rivals, while also playing to the brand’s hybrid history.

Standard equipment is also excellent, with the NX range a huge leap forward for Lexus, the 450h+ only being available in the top F-Sport trim.

This includes a brand new and enormous 14.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in nav, an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, wireless phone charger, 14-speaker premium audio system, full synthetic leather interior trim, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, keyless entry and push-start ignition, 20-inch alloy wheels, colour-matching F-Sport bodykit, fully adaptive LED headlights, and a power tailgate.

Adding further value on top of the standard F-Sport equipment mentioned above, Lexus throws in the sunroof, heated steering wheel, and digital rear-view mirror which are optional lesser variants.

It doesn’t end there, though, with the NX featuring the full suite of active safety items offered by Lexus, as well as a particularly large hybrid battery (18.1kW) which allows a claimed NEDC range of 87km. 

It also throws in the polite inclusion of a Type 2 to Type 2 charging cable, which you’ll need to charge up at public AC locations.

So yes, the 450h+ is the most expensive NX ever made and will still be too tall an order for many, but it’s actually a lot better value than it first seems in the context of its rivals.


Audi Q58/10

Would you believe me if I told you the new Q5 was a value buy despite a price-hike for this year?

Yes, it's a luxury SUV, but with a boost in equipment and price-tags across the range that range from slightly to significantly below its key rivals, the Q5 impresses from the get-go.

The entry-level variant is now simply called the Q5 (it used to be called the 'Design'). It's available with a choice of either a 2.0-litre diesel (40 TDI) or a 2.0-litre petrol (45 TFSI) engine, and equipment levels have been most significantly boosted here.

Now standard are 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18s), full paint finish (the brand has elected to dump the plastic-guard look from the previous iteration), LED headlights and taillights (no more xenons!), a new 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen with overhauled software (can't be thankful enough for this one), Audi's signature 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument cluster with further customisable features, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android auto connectivity, a wireless charging bay, auto dimming rear vision mirror, upgraded 'leather appointed' seat trim, and a powered tailgate.

Very nice and almost everything you need, really. The cost? $68,900 before on-roads (MSRP) for the diesel or $69,600 for the petrol. No context for that? All you need to know is it undercuts its two arch-rivals, the entry-level versions of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Next up is the Sport. Again, available with a choice of the same 2.0-litre turbo engines, the Sport adds some primo items like 20-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, auto dimming wing mirrors, adaptive cruise control (can be had as an option on the base car), blacked-out headlining trim, sport seats, some more advanced safety items, and access to some further option packs.

Again, the Sport undercuts its equivalent badges in the X3 and GLC ranges, wearing MSRPs of $74,900 for the 40 TDI, and $76,600 for the 45 TFSI petrol.

Capping off the range will be the S-Line, which will exclusively be available with a 50 TDI 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. Again, the S-Line will up the visual ante with the brand's new performance-oriented blacked-out features, Sportier bodykit and honeycomb grille.

It comes standard with 20-inch alloys in a different design, an interior LED lighting package, electrically adjustable steering column, and a head-up display, but otherwise shares its primary equipment with the Sport. The 50 TDI S-Line wears an MSRP of $89,600. Again, this is not at the expensive end of the spectrum for a more performance-oriented mid-sizer from a luxury brand.

Engine & trans

Lexus NX

Okay, this is where it gets tricky. You ready? The Lexus NX 450h+ has a combustion engine up front. It’s a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 136kW/227Nm which runs on the Atkinson cycle, meaning it sacrifices some power in favour of efficiency.

The idea is that the slack is taken up by the electric motors, of which this car has two. It has one more powerful unit on the front axle, producing 134kW/270Nm, and a second unit on the rear axle facilitating the all-wheel drive system, producing 40kW/121Nm.

The combustion engine, meanwhile, can only drive the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The electric motors are, in fact, the same ones used in the ‘regular’ 350h hybrid, however the higher voltage 18.1kWh battery pack in the 450h+ allows a full range of motion in the fully electric driving mode, up to 135km/h without any assistance from the combustion engine.

Combined power is rated at 227kW, but no system peak torque figure is given. Lexus claims the NX 450h+ will sprint from 0-100km/h in just 6.3 seconds.


Audi Q58/10

Audi has tweaked the Q5 engine line-up for this facelift, introducing some more high-tech touches.

The base car, and the mid-grade sport have a choice of two engines, the 40 TDI 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, and the 45 TFSI 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol.

Both have healthy outputs slightly different from their pre-facelift equivalents of 150kW/400Nm for the 40 TDI (slightly down), and 183kW/370Nm for the 45 TFSI (slightly up).

These are also augmented with a new mild hybrid (MHEV) system which consists of a separate 12-volt lithium-ion battery which helps to boost the starter motor. It is "mild" in the truest sense of the word but allows these engines to have smoother start/stop systems and increase the amount of time the car can coast with the engine off when decelerating. The brand claims this system can save up to 0.3L/100km on the combined fuel cycle.

Those looking for a little more in every department will soon also be able to opt for the 50 TDI S-Line, which trades the four-cylinder engine for a 3.0-litre diesel V6 producing 210kW/620Nm. It also ups the MHEV system to 48-volt. I'm sure we'll be able to share more on this variant when it launches later in the year.

All Q5s wear Audi's signature Quattro all-wheel drive branding, and in this case it has a newer version (launched with this car in 2017) called "Ultra Quattro" in which all four wheels are driven by default via twin clutch-packs on each axle. This is in contrast to some "on-demand" systems which only activate the front axle when a loss of traction is detected. Audi says the Q5 will revert to front-drive mode only in the most ideal of circumstances, like when minimal acceleration is applied, or when the car is coasting at higher speeds. This system is also said to "reduce frictional losses" for a further approximate 0.3L/100km reduction in fuel consumption.

The 40 TDI and 45 TFSI engines are both mated to seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmissions, and the Q5 range can tow 2000kg braked regardless of variant.

Fuel consumption

Lexus NX

The 18.1kWh battery pack which features in the NX 450h+ grants it an unusually long range for a PHEV, at a claimed 87km. This is to the more lenient NEDC testing cycle, however, and in our real-world driving the car reported around 62-65km of pure electric range at close to 100 per cent charge.

That’s still the longest real-world range of any PHEV I’ve tested, which bodes well for the usefulness of this system.

Unlike some PHEVs, the NX 450h+ has flexible options for controlling the drivetrain. The car defaults to EV mode, but with a flick of the switch it can be driven as a parallel hybrid (like any other Toyota or Lexus hybrid system) which does a great job of maintaining the battery level.

Or you can switch to charge mode, which constantly runs the engine using excess idle power to charge the battery.

The only thing I wish you could control here is the regenerative braking, which has a single mild state of tune. The ability to control it with the paddle-shifters would make for a more efficient EV.

Claimed fuel consumption for the 450h+ is just 1.3L/100km, and after my testing, covering several hundred kilometres in a few drive modes, on the freeway and around town, I came to a final figure of 3.9L/100km. 

That's pretty good, but if you were able to make more use of the EV drive mode, it could easily be less.

In terms of charging, the NX uses a European-standard Type 2 charging port. Importantly, the NX can charge at a rate of 6.6kW, double that of many PHEVs.

This means despite a relatively large battery you can get to 100 per cent charge on a public AC charger from the reserve level in just 2.5 hours. A more realistic proposition for those who only have on-street or apartment parking and cannot charge at home.

Total range can theoretically be in excess of 1000km with a full charge and tank of fuel. The NX takes 55L of fuel but notably requires mid-shelf 95RON premium.


Audi Q58/10

The Q5 is big and heavy, but these new more efficient engines have helped to trim fuel use across the board.

The 40 TDI diesel engine option has an impressively low official claimed/combined fuel figure of just 5.4L/100km, while the 45 TFSI has a less impressive (but still good, all things considered) official/combined figure of 8.0L/100km.

We won't give an as-tested figure for our launch drive loops as they wouldn't be a fair representation of a week of combined driving, so we'll save a full judgement for later variant reviews.

You'll need to fill the 45 TFSI with mid-grade 95RON unleaded petrol. The petrol engine gets a large 73-litre fuel tank, while either of the diesel engines have 70-litre tank.

Driving

Lexus NX

The NX feels entirely different from the previous model. The new car feels bigger, wider, heavier, almost as though you’re driving the previous-generation RX, a full size up.

It’s also a completely different beast from the RAV4 on which it is based. Visibility is still excellent with expansive glass on all but the rearmost window, while the refreshed cabin design feels spacious but more luxurious, too.

The steering is heavy, regardless of drive mode, making the NX feel substantial, but not inconvenient or artificial, with some organic feedback letting you connect with the road.

The hybrid drivetrain is the real star of the show, however, with Lexus putting its decades of experience on full show. 

The car defaults to EV priority mode, moving primarily as an electric car at up to freeway speeds without needing the combustion components. 

In hybrid vehicle mode, the components (which are the same as the standard hybrid, anyway) do an excellent job of mimicking the series/parallel drive of other Lexus and Toyota hybrid models.

The key brilliance of this system is how drive to the wheels is managed by the transmission, so it is imperceptible to the driver when the engine is assisting (aside from distant noise at higher loads). 

The mastery of this tech is such that it is still the leading hybrid drive on the market for smooth power transfer.

The NX also has a charge mode, where it will operate primarily as a combustion vehicle with less electrical assistance. The idle time from the engine is used to charge the battery via the transmission. 

While it’s not an efficient way to use the energy, it may be useful for where you want to maximise the amount of energy saved during a freeway trip in order to have a full charge for emissions free motoring at your destination.

The only area of drivetrain customisation I wish the NX had is in regeneration. The stock regen tune is quite mild, so I feel as though it could get even more range out of EV priority mode if you were able to maximise this.

The NX is also quite fast in a straight line, with Sport and Sport+ modes allowing you to eke otherwise hidden performance out of the electric motors. 

Raw acceleration does make the 6.3-second claimed 0-100km/h time feel like a realistic proposition, but I wouldn't put this SUV in amongst its performance rivals.

While its electrified straight-line performance is impressive, the each-way suspension tune and weight of 18.1kWh of batteries leaves a little to be desired on the handling front. 

This car feels its weight in the corners and comes with a fair bit of body-roll to keep it out of the same league as German sports machines like the GLC53 or BMW X3 M40i.

The suspension tune was another source of disappointment. For context, the ride is generally very good, but I found the large wheels, low profile tyres, and new adaptive suspension package give the NX a ride with a harsher edge than I was expecting. 

This is perhaps more notable because its RAV4 relation is particularly good for ride comfort. Seems odd that the relatively affordable Toyota-branded SUV rides with more grace than its Lexus luxury equivalent.

The same goes for road noise. Not bad, but it could be better on coarser chip surfaces, where you can hear the difference the big Lexus wheels and low-profile rubber makes.

Where does that leave us? This is a more luxury-oriented model when it comes to its ride and handling than some of its price-equivalent sporty rivals, but leans into its electric features to provide a customisable platform for energy-efficient adventures.

It’s silky smooth around town but leaves you with the confidence to have some battery left at the end of your trip without making it too complicated. I’d argue the ingredients on offer here are what more manufacturers should be combining to get people into PHEVs.


Audi Q57/10

Have you driven a Q5 before? For those who have, there will be no big changes here. For everyone else, it's a big heavy SUV with a 2.0-litre engine. The Q5 has always been inoffensive, but perhaps not a riveting experience behind the wheel when it comes to its lesser-powered variants.

We weren't able to test the go-fast 50 TDI S-Line as part of this launch review, but I can report that both updated 2.0-litre turbo options have both been nicely refined to make this big SUV a comfortable and competent family tourer.

Despite Audi going to lengths to point out aggressive 0-100km/h sprint times for both variants, I just couldn't connect with them in that sporty way. I'm sure they're fast in a straight line, but when you need to ask for torque at freeway speed or are really trying to make the most of a curvy road, it's tough to get over this SUV's bulk.

Both engines are quiet though, and even the non-active suspension tune does a remarkable job of being both comfortable and controlled.

The diesel engine is prone to bouts of lag, and although attempts have been made to reduce the impact of the stop-start system, it can leave you without precious torque at times when starting at the lights or at roundabouts and T-junctions. The petrol alternative is much better in this regard, proving slick and responsive on our test loop.

Once up-and-running the dual-clutch was hard to catch out, with ultra-fast shifts and ratios chosen at appropriate times.

The steering suits this car's character really well. It's quite computer-assisted, but in its default mode is pleasantly light, while sport mode tightens up the ratio to bring enough bite and responsiveness to keep the driver engaged enough.

Sport mode does deserve special mention here, as it's an unsually good one. The tightened-up steering is joined by more aggressive accelerator response, and with the excellent adaptive suspension package, a lower firmer ride.

Speaking of the adaptive suspension, we had the opportunity to test it in the 40 TDI, and while it's an expensive option ($3385, ouch!) it removed the sharper moments from the standard ride, added a dollop of dynamism, and quietened down the cabin even more.

Even the stock suspension plays nicely with this car's all-wheel drive system, which no doubt helps with that sturdy road feel and confident traction.

The sum of these parts makes the updated Q5 perhaps what it should be – a comfortable premium family tourer with a hint of something more thrown in. It sits nicely between its key rivals, with the Mercedes-Benz GLC more to the luxury side, and the BMW X3 offering a bit more of a sporty angle.

Safety

Lexus NX

As the top-spec car, the NX 450h+ comes with the full suite of modern active safety, including freeway speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a new intersection assist feature, a new emergency steering feature, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, safe exit warning, and panoramic reversing camera.

It also packs a whopping 10 airbags alongside the standard array of brake, stability, and traction controls, as well as dual ISOFIX and three top-tether child seat mounting points across the rear row.

At the time of writing, the NX was yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating.


Audi Q58/10

Just like the bump in cabin tech, Audi has now made the majority of safety items standard across the Q5 range.

On the active safety front, even the base Q5 gets auto emergency braking which works up to 85km/h and detects cyclists and pedestrians, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert, auto high-beams, and an exit warning system.

Adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera suite, a more advanced collision avoidance system, and an auto-parking suite are all part of the 'Assistance package' on the base Q5 ($1769 on 40TDI, $2300 on 45 TFSI), but become standard on the mid-grade Sport.

As for the more expected safety items, the Q5 gets the standard suite of electronic assistance items for traction and braking, with eight airbags (dual front, quad side, and dual curtain), and an active bonnet for pedestrian collisions.

The facelifted Q5 will carry over its excellent-at-the-time maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017.

Ownership

Lexus NX

Lexus offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty but goes one step further for its hybrid and electric models to offer an industry-leading 10-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for the high-voltage battery components.

Service costs are very competitive for the luxury market, too, with every NX costing just $495 a year for the first three annual visits.

Good value considering the PHEV is more complicated compared to standard combustion variants.

Specific ownership boons offered to buyers of the PHEV model include complementary home installation of an AC charging terminal, alongside a three-year membership to the Lexus Encore Platinum service.

Benefits include invites to various events and discounts with partnered venues and fuel stations. But perhaps most importantly, access to the 'Lexus on Demand' service which lets users swap their car for another model for up to eight days at a time.

This is a fairly generous ownership initiative which keeps Lexus ahead of its luxury rivals.


Audi Q57/10

Audi persists with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is well behind the pace given its primary rival Mercedes-Benz is now offering five years, emerging rival Genesis also offers five years, and Japanese alternative Lexus offers four years. Still, many of its other rivals, including BMW and Range Rover, persist with three-year promises, so the brand is hardly alone here.

Audi does score some major points for having more affordable pre-paid service packages. At the time of writing, a five-year service pack for the 40 TDI comes in at $3160 or $632 a year, and a pack for the 45 TFSI comes in at $2720 or $544 a year. Super affordable for a premium brand.