1st Place: 2013 Audi Q5 2.0T, by Peter Bleakney

2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

The Audi Q5 is the master of understatement. It’s not exactly a wild party to look at, calling the interior understated might well be an overstatement, and the Q5’s advertised 211-horse count makes for the sparsest stable in this showdown.

Yet when the dust settled, the Audi squeaked a victory over the fetching and capable Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. And that’s because the Q5 is a commendably cohesive piece that is thoroughly enjoyable to drive, and it shows an obsessive attention to detail that will warm the hearts of anyone who appreciates fine design and workmanship.

And we still think that 211 hp rating from the 2.0L direct-injection turbo-four might be a bit modest, although it really is the 258 lb-ft available from 1,500 rpm that does most of the talking. This engine and the smooth eight-speed auto make for a good pair, and proved the most fuel efficient here by a slight margin.

The Q5’s rear seats got the highest marks for space and comfort, and the front chairs were excellent, too, but ultimately outscored by the EX37’s snug seats and the Acura’s cushy ones.

On the road, the Q5 is a competent handler and it got the best marks for Ride Comfort and NVH as well as taking the Easy to Drive category. We scored it second in handling to the rip-snortin’ Infiniti, which is essentially a G37x sedan with a thyroid problem. While the tippy BMW X3 felt like an SUV, this Audi was very car-like in the way it carried itself. It was also the favourite for steering feel, although this tester would have appreciated a bit more meaningful heft to the helm.

2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
2013 Audi Q5 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

Where the Q5 lagged was in cargo space behind the rear seats and ease of parking, the latter due to thick D pillars and curving flanks that were hard to gauge, especially compared to the Infiniti’s around-view cameras and the GLK’s upright shape and large windows.

Indeed, the Q5 is not particularly exciting, and when compared to the GLK’s chunky look-at-me exterior (on those 20-inch AMG wheels no less) and its bold interior, the Q5 comes across as quite a wallflower.

Sometimes still waters run deep. You know the Q5’s classic and ergonomically sound interior will never grow tiresome, nor will the driving experience that blends all-day comfort with just enough sport.

Pricing: 2013 Audi Q5 2.0T
Base price (2.0T): $47,650
Options: Navigation with Park Assist – $3,200; Monsoon Grey Metallic – $750
Freight: $1,995
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $53,695

Observed fuel consumption: 11.9 L/100 km

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