It’s hard to believe that the first Audi SUV only hit the roads in 2007, just a decade ago. This honour was taken by the bulky Q7, which was quickly followed by the more UK-friendly Audi Q5 just a year later. Needless to say, the Q5 went down a storm, selling to 1.8 million customers around the world and adding a new dimension to Audi’s famed quattro four-wheel-drive brand. Fast forward to 2017 and the SUV class appears to be heading for world domination, and there’s an all-new Q5 due in showrooms this month. It’s lighter, faster, more efficient and smarter. The Q5 is arguably the SUV of choice for smartphone buffs, with the latest car packed with in-car technology.

One thing which hasn’t changed too much is the styling. If you can recognise an old Q5, you’ll have no trouble picking out a new one, but you might also notice its new single frame grille, sharper creases – especially along its shoulder line – along with slim front and rear light clusters with intricate designs, all made possible by advances in lighting technology.

A 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 282bhp is due later in the year, but for now the best-seller will be the 2.0-litre TDI fourcylinder unit with 187bhp, quattro fourwheel- drive and a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic gearbox. Audi boasts a class-leading 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds, and real-world performance is impressive too. The transmission can be jerkier than a traditional automatic at manoeuvring speeds, but once on the move it’s ideal for squeezing every ounce of potential from the engine – both in terms of its performance and economy, which is a claimed 55.4mpg.

We tested the Q5 fitted with both Sport and S line suspension setups and found the default Sport hardware far better suited to UK roads. Soaking up bumps instead of bouncing over them, the softer setting feels more confidence inspiring, and doesn’t introduce too much body roll. Our one criticism is the steering, which feels quite numb, but Audi has made huge gains in refinement and this setup should at least prove relaxing over long distance motorway jaunts.

The Q5’s new interior design will be hard to beat for the price, although the upcoming Volvo XC60 and Range Rover Velar will be hoping to raise the bar. The dashboard is now angled towards the driver, features an effortlessly cool design and boasts top notch materials.

There’s more space too; the Q5 is wider and has a longer wheelbase than before, but the use of aluminium and hot-formed steel has reduced weight by up to 90kg. The boot now measures 550 litres, matching the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, but an optional £350 upgrade to ‘Rear bench seat plus’ allows you to expand it to 610 litres by sliding the 40:20:40 split seats forward and back.

While Audi was often lamented by owners and the press for being stingy with equipment, this seems to be a trend the premium marque is keen to reverse. Even the entry-level SE trim gets a powered tailgate, heated seats, three-zone climate control and safety features that include bi-xenon headlights and autonomous emergency braking as standard. Sport trim adds hugging front seats, LED interior lighting and Audi’s MMI navigation system, while S line specification brings LED headlights, 19-inch wheels and sportier styling touches both inside and out.

Prices £37,170 to £40,220
Bodystyles 5-door SUV Engines 2.0 (187bhp)
Trim levels SE, Sport, S line
Also consider BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
Model tested S line 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic
Price £40,220
Made in San José Chiapa, Mexico
Bodystyle 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Engine 1968cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel with stop-start and selective catalyst reduction
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
Layout Four-wheel-drive
Maximum power 187bhp @ 3,800-4,200rpm
Maximum torque 295lb ft @ 1,750-3,000rpm
Top speed 135mph 0-62mph 7.9secs
CO2 emissions 133g/km
Official fuel economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 52.3/57.6/55.4mpg
Fuel tank size 65 litres Range 792 miles
Insurance group 29 BIK rate 28%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,663/2,140mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 550/1,550 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 1,770/2,400kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating
Verdict Audi’s upmarket SUV has an improved cabin and in-car tech, along with great refinement, but it has numb steering and tougher competition than ever to contend with.