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by George Skentzos

Audi has finally joined the compact SUV market having unveiled the new Audi Q5 at the Beijing Auto Salon.

Measuring 4.63 metres long and 1.88 metres wide, it will challenge the BMW X3, Volvo XC60, the Land Rover Freelander and the new Mercedes GLK.

Built upon the underpinnings of the new Audi A4, the premium five-seat Q5 SUV is equipped with Audi’s renowned quattro permanent all-wheel drive system as standard.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

In normal running conditions, the transfer case distributes the power to the front and rear axle in a 40:60 ratio for a rear-focused style, however the quattro driveline can deliver up to 65 percent of the power to the front axle and a maximum of 85 percent to the rear axle.

The Audi Q5 will arrive in Australia with a selection of three direct-injection turbocharged engines – one petrol and two diesels.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

The first is an entirely redesigned 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder petrol unit with 155kW and peak torque of 350Nm available from just 1,500rpm and remaining constant up to 4,200rpm.

This equates to a 0 to 100km/h time of just 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 222km/h – not bad at all for a four-cylinder SUV which returns 8.5 litres of fuel per 100km.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

The 2.0 TDI offers similar performance with 125kW and 350Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm – hitting 100km/h in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 204km/h.

Average fuel consumption of the diesel unit is dramatically improved, using just 6.7 litres per 100 km.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

The most powerful engine on offer in the new Audi Q5 range is the 3.0 TDI, delivering 176kW and an enormous 500Nm available between 1,500 and 3,000 rpm.

Performance is brisk, taking the Audi Q5 from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, accelerating to a top speed of 225 km/h. On average, the three-litre engine consumes 7.7 litres of fuel per 100 km.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

The 2.0 TDI engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission whilst the 3.0 TDI and 2.0 TFSI come with Audi’s new seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission.

Drivers can let the seven-speed S tronic shift automatically or select gears manually, with paddles on the steering wheel.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

Its electronic stabilization program (ESP) has been enhanced to compensate for the lifestyle led by the Q5. For example, a sensor “tells” the ESP if a roof rack has been mounted, engaging the ESP earlier is slippery conditions.

With a two-tonne towing capacity, the Audi Q5 features additional equipment for performance in rough terrain including a standard hill descent control system and special calibrations for ESP and ABS off-road.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

For what is essentially an urban SUV, its off-road capabilities are more than impressive, with an approach angle of 25 degrees thanks to its short front overhangs, 20 centimetres of ground clearance, a wading depth of up to 50 centimetres and a climbing capability of 31 degrees of incline.

The Q5 is also fitted with Audi drive select which continuously varies the steering ratio and the power steering assistance depending on the speed driven – which means less steering effort is required when parking, and firm steering with low sensitivity at higher speeds.

2008 Audi Q5 Compact SUV

Additional high-tech optional extras for the Audi Q5 include the advanced key for keyless access to the vehicle, a tire pressure monitoring system, the large panoramic glass sunroof with additional tilting function, the triple-zone climate control system, sun blinds for the rear side windows, the dynamic cornering light system known as Audi adaptive light, an electric tailgate and a swiveling trailer hitch.