After what seems like a long hiatus, Audi is back with a bang in Malaysia. All at once, the brand has introduced a salvo of SUV models ranging from the Q2, Q5, Q7, and Q8 flagship SUV. The introduction of the four new SUVs mark a comeback of sorts for the Audi brand in Malaysia and also brings the total product portfolio to six, taking into account the A4 and TT models.
In addition to the official introduction, we had some time behind the wheel of all four of Ingolstadt’s finest. Here’s what you need to know.
Audi Q2 Sport 1.4 TFSI – RM219,900 Excluding Insurance
The Q2 is Audi’s smallest SUV ever – it slots in just under the Q3 compact SUV and represents a youthful and funky entrance into the Q-family. Based on the company’s MQB platform, the Audi Q2 is aimed squarely at grabbing a share of the premium compact crossover segment currently filled in by the Mercedes-Benz GLA, BMW X1, and MINI Countryman.
How does it drive?
In a word, lively! It’s a fun little compact SUV with a taste for the bends. Along the windy roads of Genting Highlands, the Q2 exhibited superb body control, agile handling, and a poised ride without being overly rigid. The steering is quick and responsive and there’s a substantial difference to the car’s demeanour as you cycle through the various Drive Select modes. The engine is a stout performer and offers predictable torque delivery just above 2,000 rpm and pulls cleanly right up to its redline.
The interior, with its swanky red inlays, create a nice youthful feel and the ergonomics of the various switchgear are spot on. You sit low in the supportive seats which instantly instills confidence. The interior is somewhat let down by the hard plastics in the door panels and slightly flimsy (though nicely designed) air-conditioning vents.
Audi Q5 Sport 2.0 TFSI Quattro – RM339,900 Excluding Insurance
The second-generation of Audi’s most successful SUV model boasts an improved quattro AWD system, a more spacious and up to date cabin space, and lighter overall kerb weight despite growing in size. Two new drive modes are now available: Lift/Offroad and Allroad to underscore better all-weather performance. The Audi Q5 will take on a crowded field of mid-sized premium SUVs such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, and Lexus NX.
The most impressive aspect of driving the Q5 is its predictability. At low speeds, the progressive steering is nice and light – and despite its size – is surprisingly pliable in traffic; there’s a real sense that the car wraps around you to help you build confidence. Push the throttle harder though and the engine surges with immediate torque – a long, flat torque curve allows for superb in-gear acceleration and overall pace. The 7-speed dual-clutch is intuitive and instantly reacts to the driver’s inputs with regards to upshifts and downshifts; traction levels, as you might surmise, are sublime.
In terms of outright performance, it's right up there with the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 but where the Q5 manages to be a tad better than its Stuttgart rival is in the tighter bends – the Q5 is very composed during quick steering transitions and its mid-corner balance is about as good as it gets in this segment. The interior is well thought out and finished with typical Audi precision. One complaint though is that I wish I could be seated lower in the driver's seat to be better integrated with the driving experience.
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro – RM599,900 Excluding Insurance
The ‘big daddy’ quattro is a statement of the high-tech competence of Audi. The Audi Q7 is circa 325 kgs lighter than in its predecessor, making it the lightest car in the premium 7-seater SUV segment. Along with a more luxurious and spacious interior, the rear luggage compartment in the seven-seater model has the flexibility of altering its capacity from 295 liters to a whopping 1,955 liters. Performance is buoyed by a new engine, eight-speed tiptronic transmission, and improved quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The Audi Q7 will arguably have the toughest hill to climb, taking on established rivals such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
There a sense of calm when you get into a Q7. Shutting the door and sliding into its supportive seats instantly cocoons you within a tranquil space void of the disturbances from the outside. The interior is expansive and functional, and practically everything you see, hear, and touch exudes quality and execution. I personally believe the Volvo XC90 still has a better mix of materials and contours on the inside, but it’s no deal breaker. The third row is easy enough to access by dropping the outer 2nd-row seats and does seem like it will accommodate children rather well. The Bang & Olufsen stereo system, on the other hand, offers great depth and sound quality.
Given that my time spent behind the wheel was mostly on straight highway sections, I can confirm that the Q7 will make for a sublime mega-mile cruiser. The engine operates effortlessly at the speed limit and this Goliath will hit upwards of 180 km/h in very short order if required. While the output numbers are impressive, don’t expect neck-snapping acceleration as the supercharged V6 is set up to be very tractable and linear, and it fits the overall demeanour of the car well. The steering (though slightly vague) is progressive and predictable, making the Q7 a good steer at both low and high speeds. The brakes too are monstrous and cut off the car's momentum with impressive authority.
Audi Q8 3.0 TFSI Quattro – RM727,900 Excluding Insurance
The Audi Q8 combines the spaciousness and ergonomics typical of an SUV with the elegant body line of a four-door coupé. At 4.99 meters long, 2.00 meters wide, and 1.71 meters tall, the Q8 is wider, shorter and lower than its Q7 sister model, but with a wheelbase of nearly 3.00 meters, it also offers ample passenger comfort and practicality. The suave design – in particular, the roofline, sloping C-Pillar, and blistered wheel arches – echo Audi’s legendary Ur-quattro model from the 80s. The Audi Q8 will take on other premium rivals such as the BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, and Porsche Cayenne.
Jumping from the Q7 into the Q8, the first thing one realises once you press the accelerator pedal is just how much more manic the acceleration is, and how much of a difference that mild hybrid system makes. Torque (60 Nm more than in the Q7) is almost instantaneous at any speed, augmented perfectly by Q8’s 8-speed automatic. It feels even faster than the quoted 5.9 seconds 0-100 km/h time that the brochure reads. The Q8 belies its huge proportions in the corners with excellent handling characteristics: great on turn-in, poised mid-corner, and explosive on corner exits, the Q8 feels even lither than the Porsche Cayenne we recently tested. I would appreciate a bit more steering feel in the Q8; having limited feedback is arguably forgivable in the Q7, but in a car like the Q8, it goes a long way – this is a driver’s car through-and-through.
The interior is equally impressive; the central highlight element being the MMI touch response display which sits flush with black dashboard fascia, just below, the digital climate control touchscreen give the Q8 an air of sophistication and exclusivity. The seats are comfortable and offer nice support all round, but I would love a tad bit more storage space and cubby holes for knick-knacks at the front.