Tough act to follow: Audi Q5 [w/ poll]

Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 has proven to be a very important model for Audi. It may not have been Audi’s first SUV (that would be the gargantuan Q7), but it has been its most successful one. Even as it is about to be replaced in 2016 by a completely new model, the current eight-year-old Q5 was the second-best selling car in the Premium Mid-sized SUV segments in Europe and in the US in 2015! Over its lifespan, it has consistently outsold its German competitors, the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK, quite the feat for a first-time effort from Audi. And now, with the second generation Q5 model almost upon us, I wonder if it will be able to its predecessor’s sales success.

In order to determine this, it’s instructive to consider what exactly is it that made the Audi Q5 such a consumer-favorite? In my mind three factors played a crucial role.

Success factor #1: perfect balance. The Q5 was a well-rounded product with no obvious downsides: it looked good inside and out, had a wide range of powerful and economical engines, could easily swallow a family and their luggage, and its chassis struck a good balance between comfortable and sporty. Here, there is no reason to believe Audi is about to drop the ball – we can expect the new Q5 to be much like the old one, only better: faster and more efficient, more comfortable, more spacious, loaded with tech. On merit, it should go straight to the top of its segment.

Success factor #2: luck. When the Q5 entered the market in 2008 it was not yet fully developed and there was no “default” model it would have to compete against. The only semi-established mainstream model at the time was the BMW X3, which came out in 2003, but that first-generation model was deeply flawed with awkward styling and a hard ride, and never established the same kind of foothold on the segment as, say, the 3-series did over decades. By the time the new one comes out it’ll face not only much improved versions of its original competitors, the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC (replacing the GLK) or Cadillac XT5 (replacing the SRX) in the US, but altogether a much larger field, including the Volvo XC60 (the current European sales leader), Porsche Macan, Lexus NX and Jaguar F-Pace, to name just a few.

Success factor #3: styling. The final factor that contributed greatly, in my opinion, to the Q5’s success was the styling. When the model came out I was somewhat disappointed, as I had hoped for a much more aggressive look. However, over time the model proved to be the very definition of a “grower” – the elegant shape did not age one bit, while details such as the unique rear lights or the perfectly-executed flares over the wheels managed to keep the whole car looking fresh. What can we expect of the new Q5 in the styling department? Audi’s SUV track record has been really poor of late, between the ill-proportioned Q7 Mk II and the Q2 that somehow manages to look like it’s trying too hard and, at the same time, not hard enough. However, spy pictures of the new Q5 promise an altogether more balanced look than either of those two, with a nice character line down the side accentuating the suitably flared arches.

Audi Q5 spy
Photo credit: MotorAuthority

So, how will the new Q5 fare? Given how much the sector has changed, and what we know of the upcoming Q5, does it look likely that it will repeat its predecessor’s success? Yes – in my opinion it should not only match its success, it looks like it has all it needs to go straight to the top of the sales charts on both continents. That will be slightly easier in Europe, where the segment-leading Volvo XC60 is getting on in years, but could also happen in the US, where the elegant and inoffensive Cadillac SRX is about to be replaced with the in-your-face XT5, a strategy that hasn’t worked out great for the CTS.

What do you think? Vote in the poll, and let us know by leaving a comment below:

How will the Q5 Mk II fare?

  • Big success: it will sell just as well as the Mk I, but won't trouble the top spot of the sales charts (40%, 16 Votes)
  • Too early too tell: depends on how good it is (25%, 10 Votes)
  • Letdown: it will sell worse than its predecessor (20%, 8 Votes)
  • Smash hit: it will go to the top of the segment in at least Europe or the US, or both (15%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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