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The four-ringed badge of Audi has always played a special role in the life of The Good Car Guy. It’s hard to escape the effect a brand can have when, from birth, the smell and feel and atmosphere of a car company is embossed on one’s consciousness. The Q5 is the quintessential modern Audi: a handsome and successful response to a growing segment. A handful of competitors were greeting the Audi Q5 when it first landed in dealers about a year ago. Audi managed to ascertain the potential customer’s wishlist and then blended its own core values into a new segment with as little compromise as possible.

Spacious, stylish, and speedy, the Audi Q5 is to the small luxury SUV category what the Audi R8 is to the supercar establishment. Coming just a little out of right field, the Q5 – and the R8, too – aren’t the most obvious choice but, upon closer inspection, reveal themselves to be the exceeders of expectations. Can I really have this much cool for this much money?
Apparently I can. We expect good interiors from Audi. Audi’s Q5 innards are great. We expect a sporting nature from a new Audi. Q5s top the class in that department. Design is the factor which took Audi from also-ran status to the belief that, later on next decade, it could be the largest luxury brand in the world. The Q5? Mmm-hmm, one of the company’s most cohesively styled current products.

Engines: 270 horsepower; 243 lb-ft of torque from a 3.2L V6

Base USD Price: $37,350
Cargo Capacity: 57.3 cubic feet behind front row
Maximum Towing Capability: 4,400 pounds
City Mileage: 18 mpg
Stiff Competition: The Good Car Guy’s visceral response to the Mercedes-Benz GLK landed that vehicle on’s 100 Favourite Cars list. On the other hand, the BMW X3 was in The Bad 8 Supersize last year. (Will it be again in v2.0?) Other opponents include the fun-to-drive Acura RDX, Infiniti’s wagon-like EX35, the stylish new Volvo XC60, and Land Rover’s butch LR2, all of which the Audi routinely out-sells. All but the Benz, that is.